Overview of the Chiefs’ initial 53-man roster

Aug. 18, 2015; St. Joseph, MO: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) under center during training camp at Missouri Western State University. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)
Aug. 18, 2015; St. Joseph, MO: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) under center during training camp at Missouri Western State University. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs officially established the initial 53-man roster on Saturday following a wave of transactions from 75 players.

The Chiefs waived wide receiver Da’Ron Brown, defensive end Mike Catapano, safety Sanders Commings, linebacker Ja’Gared Davis, defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo, offensive lineman Garrett Frye, defensive end David Irving, linebacker James-Michael Johnson, center Eric Kush, wide receiver Tello Luckett, offensive lineman Daniel Munyer, cornerback Deji Olaytoye, offensive lineman Jarrod Pughsley, running back Darrin Reaves, offensive lineman Derek Sherrod, cornerback Kevin Short, tight end Ryan Taylor, fullback Spencer Ware and wide receiver Fred Williams.

Kansas City also placed tight end Richard Gordon (ankle) on injured reserve, traded safety Kelcie McCray to the Seattle Seahawks for an undisclosed draft pick and moved cornerback Sean Smith to the reserve/suspended list.

The initial 53-man roster breaks down as 24 players on offense, 26 on defense and three specialists.

Barring changes in the coming days, here is how the full roster shapes out ahead of the season opener on the road against the Houston Texans on Sept. 13 (rookies are italicized):

QUARTERBACK (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray

ANALYSIS: No surprises with the trio with Smith the clear starter, Daniel the clear backup and Murray continuing to develop entering his second season. Tyler Bray, who is on the non-football injury list, recently signed a two-year contract extension.

RUNNING BACK (3): Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Charcandrick West

ANALYSIS: That the Chiefs only kept three running back likely signals West, who missed the final preseason contest with a concussion, should be available for the season opener.

FULLBACK (1): Anthony Sherman

ANALYSIS: None needed; Sherman is one of the league’s best pure fullbacks.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant, De’Anthony Thomas, Chris Conley, Frankie Hammond Jr.

ANALYSIS: The decision to keep Hammond over Fred Williams and rookie Da’Ron Brown boiled down to special teams. Hammond can return punts and led the Chiefs in the preseason with seven returns. Williams, who led the team in preseason action with 15 catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, and Brown did not record a punt return or kickoff return.

TIGHT END (3): Travis Kelce, James O’Shaughnessy, Demetrius Harris

ANALYSIS: By keeping three tight ends, the Chiefs must feel good about Kelce’s availability for the season opener after he missed the preseason finale with a slight ankle sprain. Harris, who returned to action in time for the preseason finale after missing organized team activities, training camp and three preseason games, felt good about his chances to contribute for the regular season and the Chiefs apparently agree.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Donald Stephenson, Jeff Allen, Zach Fulton, Paul Fanaika

ANALYSIS: The starting offensive line projects as Fisher, Grubbs, Morse, Duvernay-Tardif and Stephenson. Allen is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in the preseason opener, and his eventual return could shake up the starting rotation. The biggest area that jumps out about this group is versatility. Outside of Grubbs, who is a mainstay at left guard, the other players can play a variety of position along the offensive line. Fulton’s ability to play center made Eric Kush expendable.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Mike DeVito, Jaye Howard, Allen Bailey, Dontari Poe, Nick Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches

ANALYSIS: Poe’s listing on the initial 53-man roster is a good indication the Chiefs believe he will be ready sooner than later as he recovers from back surgery. Howard will continue to fill in at defensive tackle until Poe returns. Mike Catapano’s release is a surprise.

LINEBACKER (10): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Dee Ford, Dezman Moses, Frank Zombo, Josh Martin, Ramik Wilson, D.J. Alexander

ANALYSIS: No big surprises among this group. Wilson can fill in next to Johnson depending on Mauga’s health. Mauga did not play in the preseason after suffering a heel injury late in training camp.

CORNERBACK (5): Phillip Gaines, Jamell Fleming, Marcus Cooper, Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson

ANALYSIS: The starters project as Gaines and Peters while Sean Smith serves a three-game suspension to start the season. Gaines will likely move inside with Fleming taking his place at right cornerback in the team’s nickel package.

SAFETY (5): Ron Parker, Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry, Tyvon Branch, Daniel Sorensen

ANALYSIS: Parker and Abdullah project as the starters, with either Berry or Branch working in the dime package.

SPECIALIST (3): Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester

ANALYSIS: No surprises here.


Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.