The end of training camp is drawing near and the picture is becoming clearer when it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs‘ 2022 roster.
There is still a long way to go, obviously. Preseason games haven’t even been played and most coaching staffs have recently just started making their evaluations.
But, that doesn’t stop players from getting ahead of one other early in camp, per se. The coaches -and those following teams at camp- are certainly taking notes on who is standing out both in the meeting rooms and on the field.
For the Chiefs, it appears as if fifth-year veteran Justin Watson is on track to steal a roster spot from first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler Josh Gordon. Per The Athletic‘s Nate Taylor, Gordon’s talent is still there, but he has put together an inconsistent camp thus far.
Watson, on the other hand, has developed a very strong connection with Patrick Mahomes over the last few months and his camp has been more consistent. He also has good athleticism and speed. But, where Watson separates himself from Gordon is his ability -and desire- to play special teams.
“You never want to play Kansas City when you’re playing special teams,” Watson recently told reporters. “This is always a premier unit. To play for [Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator] Coach [Dave] Toub and [the Chiefs place] such an emphasis. The assistant head coach is our special teams coordinator. You can feel that it’s important, it doesn’t even need to be said. You can just tell by how much we put into it and the effort we put into it. I love that.
“It’s always been something that’s been important to me. You can feel it with a lot of the other guys. It’s cool after practice, we already see a lot of guys working with each other, competing knowing that those last couple of spots on the roster are going to come down to special teams.”
It tracks that Watson is currently ahead of Gordon. Once you get past the WR4 position, it’s mostly about who can play special teams. Especially for the Chiefs: Andy Reid isn’t going to play many five receiver sets since Travis Kelce is on the roster. Therefore, the fifth receiver isn’t going to see the field much, at all. Unless there is an injury or special package involved.
Watson has 666 (yikes!) special teams snaps over the course of the last four seasons.
Gordon has no more than five since 2012. He appeared in 12 games for the Chiefs in 2021 and there were high hopes he would start to resemble the monster we saw dominate secondaries in 2013, but it looks like his days are numbered in regard to the 53-man roster.
Football can be complicated, but some decisions can be really easy. And unless Gordon just cranks it up and starts balling out over the next few weeks, it looks like the Chiefs will have an easy decision on their hands when it comes to choosing between him and Watson.
Featured image via Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports