KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The third preseason game is widely regarded around the NFL as a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
And for good reason when considering starters on both sides of the ball typically experience the most action of the exhibition games after barely breaking a sweat in the first two preseason contests.
Don’t expect the Chiefs to stray from that league-wide blueprint Friday night when the team hosts the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Playing time will be somewhere there in three quarters for the ones,” coach Andy Reid said Wednesday, “and then the twos will take it from there.”
The third exhibition contest also carries importance because starters hardly – if ever – see playing time in the preseason finale.
Any appearance in the final exhibition game is often limited to a series or perhaps a handful of plays, so Reid understands the significance of seeing his starters do well Friday night.
“The way we do it now, it’s important for sure,” Reid said. “For the ones, it’s kind of the final tune-up and that’s what most teams do around the league.”
Teams often treat the extended playing time for starters like a regular season game and build a game plan for the third preseason contest.
Reid and his coaching staff aren’t different in that regard.
The Chiefs, however, won’t have a full deck to build a plan around, especially on the offensive line where starting left tackle Eric Fisher (high-ankle sprain) and projected starting right guard Jeff Allen (knee) aren’t expected to play.
Fisher and Allen, who suffered his injury in the preseason opener, missed the second preseason contest and did not practice the past week.
Donald Stephenson has filled in for Fisher, while Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has manned the right guard position with Paul Fanaika taking over at right tackle.
Their presence with Fisher and Allen not playing shouldn’t alter how Reid goes forward Friday night.
“We’ll run our stuff,” Reid said. “We’ve got trust in the guys that are in there and we go with it. We’ll go ahead and we’ll play just like we did last week. We played, we called the stuff that we call and we roll with it.”
Backups will see action after the starters depart the field, and the second- and third-team units should dominate playing time in the final preseason game on the road against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 3.
The final quarters of the next two preseason contests allow for assessing the players fighting for a roster spot or playing time, such as rookie wide receiver Chris Conley.
“His play will increase this week,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said of Conley. “And again, he’s a guy that’s in the mix and we need to have a lot of reps on tape to evaluate him properly and see where he fits in our scheme.”
The Chiefs already know what quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, tight end Travis Kelce, outside linebacker Justin Houston, among other core players, bring to the field.
“We play a bunch of guys in the preseason and it’s an evaluation process,” Pederson said. “That’s what the preseason’s for and we go out to win every game; regular season, preseason, postseason, whatever it is. We coach to win every game. However, preseason is a little different because it’s the evaluation process.”