Q&A: Ford, Thomas rookies to watch

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- This is the first training camp edition of the Kansas City Chiefs mailbag. To ask a question for a future edition, send to me via Twitter (@adamteicher) and tag it #ChiefsMail.

@adamteicher: The two rookies who have the best chance to make an impact are outside linebacker Dee Ford and running back/kick returner De'Anthony Thomas. Ford for now is a backup behind Justin Houston and Tamba Hali in the regular defense and the Chiefs haven't used their nickel defense much so far at training camp. But I expect Ford to play in obvious passing situations and he has already shown he has a lot of natural ability as a pass rusher. Thomas has lined up in a variety of places on offense (running back, slot receiver and wide receiver) but he may make his immediate mark as a punt returner. He's fast and quick enough to be a good returner and special teams coordinator Dave Toub has a great record in developing talents such as Thomas.

@adamteicher: It's an important camp for Knile Davis. Here's what I wrote recently about his situation: es.pn/1AgSAdV. He could earn more playing time with a big training camp but as long as Jamaal Charles remains healthy there will be a limit to how much Davis plays.

@adamteicher: I won't predict the Chiefs will keep four quarterbacks but I won't dismiss the notion, either. Particularly in light of Alex Smith's contract situation, they are in no position to release a quarterback who they think can develop into a productive player. Smith will start and I don't see the Chiefs replacing Chase Daniel as the top backup or getting rid of rookie Aaron Murray. That would leave Tyler Bray as the odd one out, though I don't sense the Chiefs are ready to give up on him. An alternative would be to put Bray or Murray on an injured list.

@adamteicher: Sean Smith figured to be the Chiefs' No. 1 cornerback after they released Brandon Flowers but he's been practicing with the backups for some time. There's plenty of time for the Chiefs to move him back into the starting lineup and I expect they will soon. Marcus Cooper is one of the starting cornerbacks and he's played well during the offseason. But it was scary the way opponents successfully picked on him last year.

@adamteicher: Continuity always helps and I think that's something the Chiefs are counting on as an advantage this year. The coaching staff returns intact and most of their key players are back. That helps. But 11 wins and a Super Bowl appearance look out of the question to me. Remember that the Chiefs showed considerable weakness down the stretch last season, losing six of their last eight games. And you can't ignore the strength of their schedule.

@adamteicher: The Chiefs haven't put on the pads in practice yet, so it's hard to get a read on left tackle Eric Fisher. He didn't play well last year but it was easy to see his athletic ability and the Chiefs still believe he can be the player they envisioned when they drafted him No. 1 overall last year. The question is how long it will take before Fisher gets to that point. Offseason shoulder surgery that he had in January limited what he was able to get done in the weight room so it will be interesting to see whether he got stronger. He had trouble holding up last year against bigger, stronger opponents.

@adamteicher: Frankie Hammond Jr. is a nice prospect who has a good shot at winning a roster spot. He is fast and has good hands. The Chiefs kept him on the practice squad all season for a reason. But I'd be surprised if he's ready to claim a starting spot at wide receiver. It appears Donnie Avery will start for at least another season.

@adamteicher: They are thin and inexperienced in the secondary other than Eric Berry and Sean Smith. So I would expect the Chiefs to be looking for a safety or cornerback as teams make their cuts. But they are far down in the waiver process so they may not get a player they put in a claim for.

@adamteicher: The Chiefs have spent a lot of money since John Dorsey replaced Scott Pioli as general manager last year. The contracts of seven of the 10 players with the highest salary-cap totals for the Chiefs this year have been signed with Dorsey as their general manager. So, to answer your question, yes.