KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs are preparing this week for the third preseason game like it’s a regular season game week with the exception of starters’ playing time.
“Normally what I do is I go about a half and start them that third quarter,” coach Andy Reid said Wednesday, “and then we just kind of go from there.”
Reid said Saturday’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings is a progression from the first two preseason games, which saw the Chiefs go 1-1.
The Chiefs starters on both sides of the ball played the first quarter in the first game against the Cincinnati Bengals, with the remaining quarters split among the backups.
The first-team offense and defense saw more playing time into the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers.
How deep into the second half the starters actually play Saturday remains to be seen.
But quarterback Alex Smith appears ready for whatever is asked of him considering the third preseason game is often treated as a dress rehearsal for the regular season opener.
“We’ve had our hands on the game plan a little longer than normally for these preseason games,” Smith said. “Certainly, you would expect a little better control of the game plan.”
Two areas Smith would like to see success Saturday night are execution and finishing drives when considering the first-team offense hasn’t scored a preseason touchdown.
“That’s what we’re striving for every single play is to go out there and execute and be successful,” Smith said. “But with that our job as an offense is to move the ball, put some points on the board and last week we struggled in the red zone for a lot of different reasons. This week it would be nice to capitalize on some of those drives.”
PRACTICE SQUAD EXPANSION
The NFL and NFLPA agreed Tuesday to expand the practice squad from eight players to 10 players for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The specific criteria for practice squad eligibility have been expanded in two areas, according to the NFL news release:
“First, a player must have a minimum of six games – up from the current three games – on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’s three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service.
“Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.”
The agreement between the NFL and NFLPA has a fan in Reid.
“Coaches will say this,” he said, “we‘re all for as many guys as we can have, we’ll take. And adding a couple extra guys gives two more players an opportunity to play and make a livelihood out of this thing. So it’s a great opportunity for those two to make it for each club, and you start adding up numbers and you get quite a few guys.”
The Chiefs added rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas and cornerback Chris Owens to a growing list of injured players.
“De’Anthony had a spasm in his hamstring,” Reid said. “It didn’t happen in practice. It happened when he woke up this morning. We’ll see how it works out.”
Reid said Owens hurt his knee during practice and didn’t have the specifics on the injury.
“We don’t know how bad it is,” Reid said. “We’ll check it out and see how he does.”
Defensive end Mike Catapano wasn’t present Wednesday after practicing Tuesday.
“He tried to go yesterday and struggled with it,” Reid said.
The second-year pro battled a virus during training camp that caused him to miss nine total practices in St. Joseph, Mo., and he didn’t play in the two preseason games.
Meanwhile, running back Jamaal Charles (foot), wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (quad), wide receiver Junior Hemingway (hip), offensive tackle Ryan McKee (knee), inside linebacker Joe Mays (wrist), outside linebacker Josh Martin (quad) and cornerback Damond Smith (undisclosed) did not practice.
Smith recently dealt with an abductor strain and practiced Tuesday, but Reid didn’t offer an explanation for Smith’s absence Wednesday.
Reid was unsure if Charles, who missed the second preseason game, would play Saturday.
“We’ll see,” Reid said. “I’ve got to see how he works out this week, and right now he hasn’t practiced.”
NOTES: Second-year wide receiver Frankie Hammond ran with the first-team offense in Dwayne Bowe’s (quad) place … Reid confirmed second-year quarterback Tyler Bray will be the first quarterback to take snaps Saturday after Alex Smith leaves the game … The Chiefs moved up practice from the afternoon to the morning to get ahead of the heat. The players were not in full pads, but in shorts and helmet.