Earlier I gave you the names of six offensive players the Kansas City Chiefs are particularly eager to see in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. Here, I'm doing the same for defense.
Cornerback Ron Parker. The Chiefs moved Parker, who has been released eight times in his NFL career, into the starting lineup during offseason practice. He struggled at times then but bounced back to play well in camp, as he did in his limited playing time last season. But the Bengals and their wide receivers provide a better challenge, the kind that can show the Chiefs whether they can trust Parker on a full-time basis when the regular season begins.
Defensive lineman Allen Bailey. He has quietly had a nice training camp, and now it's time for him to show it under the lights. Bailey, a spare defensive lineman for the past three seasons, has been in the starting lineup at one of the end positions. So far, he has held off Vance Walker, one of the Chiefs' biggest free-agent signings.
Safety Malcolm Bronson. He joined the Chiefs last season as an undrafted rookie who was injured, but the Chiefs kept him around all season anyway, indicating he had something they liked. The Chiefs are desperate for help at backup safety, and this is Bronson's chance to show the Chiefs he can provide it.
Safety Daniel Sorensen. An undrafted rookie this year, Sorensen has showed good instincts and ball skills. In the most recent training camp practice on Monday, Sorensen had two interceptions and broke up a pass. He was a standout on special teams in college at Brigham Young and has to play well in that phase in order to make the regular-season roster.
Cornerback Phillip Gaines. The Chiefs' third-round draft pick, Gaines got off to a slow start after arriving in the spring. He looked lost for a time, but he appears to be making progress and the preseason games will be a good gauge of just how much progress. The Chiefs are thin at cornerback and need to know whether Gaines is a project or someone they can count on this season.
Linebacker Dezman Moses. An outside linebacker, Moses plays the same position as Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dee Ford, so there won't be much playing time for him this season no matter what. But the Chiefs still think he can be a good player for them. He joined them last season, and though he played some, Moses was never effective because he was injured. He might or might not play against Cincinnati because of an elbow injury, but if not the Chiefs will keep an eye on him in the other exhibitions.