Five things to watch when the Chiefs meet the Washington Commanders at Arrowhead on Saturday

·3 min read
Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com

The Chiefs play their first game at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday, when the Washington Commanders visit in the second preseason game for both teams.

In the second preseason game last year, quarterback Patrick Mahomes played in the second quarter, a total of four series and 32 snaps. The starters figure to get more playing time than in last week’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Kickoff is 3 p.m., and the game will be televised on Channel 41.

Here are five things to watch from a Chiefs’ perspective.

More attention to the running game

The Chiefs were happy with the overall offensive performance of the first two teams in the preseason opener at the Chicago Bears. But they didn’t emphasize the running game. One series each for Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne produced five rushing attempts for 16 yards. Look for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon (if healthy), Ronald Jones and Derrick Gore to stretch their legs more against Washington.

No Smith-Schuster, so who gets the targets?

On Thursday, Andy Reid said it was unlikely wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster will play this weekend because of a knee injury. It would have been nice to get him a target. Last week, 15 Chiefs were targeted but not Smith-Schuster. Who could use the looks? Justin Watson and Skyy Moore looked good last week and their spots on the roster seem assured. Looking to make an impression are Daurice Fountain, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon and Cornell Powell.

Breaking in the newcomers

Defensive tackle Danny Shelton joined the Chiefs this week and could get some snaps. He wears No. 92 but at 345 pounds you won’t need binoculars to spot him.

Cornerback Rashad Fenton, one of the most experienced players in the secondary, should see his first action after missing the first three weeks of camp.

Takeaways and preventing the big play

The Chiefs came up with five sacks last week, a good sign for a team that ranked 29th in that category last season. But Steve Spagnuolo’s group didn’t force a turnover. Maybe this week. Washington threw and interception and coughed up a fumble in last week’s loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Also, Spagnuolo wants to cut down on big plays. Last week, the Chiefs surrendered a couple of long completions. Cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed and Joshua Williams appeared to be in good position but couldn’t close the deal.

“There were some things in the past game that we need to clean up from the standpoint of those long pass plays,” Spagnuolo said.

Butker from 70?

At 90.12 percent, Harrison Butker is the second most accurate kicker in NFL history, and he owns one of the strongest legs with a career long of 58 yards. But with an off-season adjustment that essentially changes the rotation of the ball on his kicks, Butker said he believes he could hit a 70-yarder under the right conditions, like a warm day with a slight breeze.

Saturday’s high temperature in Kansas City should be in the mid-80s with a swirling wind.