*Around the NFL's season preview continues with the AFC West *
Change we can believe in
The Chiefs are one of the more stable franchises going these days entering Year 3 of the Andy Reid takeover. It remains to be seen if that's a good thing. The offensive line, which has not been a strong suit under Reid, lost stalwart center Rodney Hudson and traded for former Saints guard Ben Grubbs. Rookie center Mitch Morse will start from day one. The team needs 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher to play like a difference maker, but he's not even their left tackle any more. He was moved to the right side and is recovering from a high ankle sprain.
Kansas City addressed its need at wide receiver by ending the Dwayne Bowe era, paying Jeremy Maclin like a superstar and drafting Chris Conley in the third round. But the Chiefs are expecting young players like Albert Wilson to step in as a starter, while top-level talent Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce carry a mid-level starting quarterback in Alex Smith.
Our prime concern with these Chiefs remains the roster construction. They have a few true superstars in Charles and outside linebacker Justin Houston. There are solid veterans like Smith, linebacker Derrick Johnson and Maclin. And there isn't much else. The Chiefs have poor depth throughout the roster and subpar starters at a variety of positions throughout the offensive line, defensive line and back seven on defense.
The secondary is a huge mystery with safety Eric Berry's return from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma a huge boost for the group. Berry is back, but he's no longer expected to be used as a starter as the Chiefs are careful with his recovery. Ron Parker and Husain Abdullah will start at safety, while rookie Marcus Peters and Philip Gaines form an inexperienced secondary team.
Training camp surprise
Nose tackle Dontari Poe's back surgery highlights our issue with the Chiefs' roster. He's a Pro Bowl talent, but the team's defensive line is dreadful now that he's hurt. It's uncertain when Poe will return, although he avoided the reserve/physically unable to perform list to start the year.
What we'll be saying in February
Andy Reid's shirts are a lot more entertaining than his team.