Keep an eye on Chiefs' Dee Ford on Friday night

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Andy Reid and his defensive coaches came up with a good idea for last Friday's preseason game when they used Dee Ford as one outside linebacker in place of Tamba Hali. That way, the Kansas City Chiefs would not only save unnecessary wear and tear on the 31-year-old Hali but also get a good look at Ford, their 2014 first-round draft pick.

The Chiefs were rewarded for their decision when Ford played well both against the run and pass. The Chiefs liked the idea so much that Reid indicated Ford would again get some first-team work in Friday night’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium. Hali will also play some, unlike last week.

If Ford continues to play well for the Chiefs, he could pay dividends for the Chiefs both in the short and long term. But by rotating Ford in with the starting defense this year, the Chiefs could keep Hali fresh for the grind of a long regular season, his 10th.

By 2016, when Hali’s Chiefs career is likely finished, Ford would be a starter and give Kansas City another solid outside linebacker to pair with Justin Houston.

In that sense, Ford will be one of the Chiefs’ most important players on Friday night.

“We’ve been happy with the way he’s attacked this camp," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “I think the better he can become as an all-around player -- we all know he has some unique rush skills -- but the better he can become as an all-around player, the better off he is going to be.

“That’s where he’s really made some strides, I think. He’s played the first and second down in this past game, I thought, really well. He did a good job setting the edge in the run. As long as he keeps improving, that arrow is really pointing up for Dee. We’re excited about where he’s at.”