KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
QUARTERBACK (3): Alex Smith, Nick Foles, Tyler Bray. The first two are set. Bray didn't distinguish himself during the preseason, and his recent neck injury came at an inopportune time. But the Chiefs have stuck with him through too much to give up on him now. Aaron Murray’s fumbles in the recent preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams might have killed his chance to make the team. Kevin Hogan looks like a practice squad candidate.
RUNNING BACK (4): Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Darrin Reaves. This might be an overreaction to what happened in Saturday's game against the Chicago Bears -- when Reaves was the second back into the game ahead of Knile Davis -- but Reaves is a more complete back than Davis and therefore a better fit for what the Chiefs do on offense. I'm not convinced the Chiefs will keep four runners, but they might, given the slow pace of Charles' return from his torn ACL.
FULLBACK (1): Anthony Sherman. It only seems like Sherman has been the Chiefs' fullback since Len Dawson was their quarterback.
WIDE RECEIVER (6): Jeremy Maclin, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, Tyreek Hill, Rod Streater, Demarcus Robinson. The notable cut here is De'Anthony Thomas. He might go on to play for another team, but he doesn't provide the Chiefs anything they otherwise lack. The bar isn't high, but this is the deepest group the Chiefs have had at these positions in some time. It's reasonable to think they could get some production from all but Robinson, who looks like more of a developmental prospect.
TIGHT END (3): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Ross Travis. It’s tempting to give the Chiefs a fourth tight end, and in this case it would be Brian Parker; he's not much of a receiver, but he's bigger and a better blocker than any of the tight ends they retained. But tough choices have to be made somewhere. I kept a fourth running back in Reaves, instead of Parker.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Eric Fisher, Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Zach Fulton, Jah Reid, Jordan Devey. The Chiefs haven't wavered from the first five as their starters. Fulton, Reid and Devey have been starters at some point in their careers and can play multiple positions.
DEFENSIVE LINE (5): Allen Bailey, Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard, Chris Jones, Nick Williams. I'd prefer to keep a sixth, which would be Rakeem Nunez-Roches. He has got ability in a 3-4 scheme and could be picked up by another team if cut by the Chiefs. He'd be a practice squad candidate if he passes through waivers, but Williams gives the Chiefs more immediate value.
LINEBACKER (9): Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Dadi Nicolas, Andy Mulumba, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Justin March, Ramik Wilson. Justin Houston will begin the season on an injured list. I have the Chiefs cutting inside linebacker D.J. Alexander, but he could make the team as a 10th linebacker or replace Nicolas or Mulumba, one of the backups on the outside.
DEFENSIVE BACK (11): Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Kenneth Acker, D.J. White, Steven Nelson, KeiVarae Russell, Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Eric Murray, Daniel Sorensen, Jeron Johnson. The toughest decisions on the roster are here and complicated by the recent addition of Acker. But I have the Chiefs parting with two defensive backs who are former starters, Marcus Cooper and Jamell Fleming.