Rodney Hudson took his first professional snap at center for the Chiefs. Eric Winston made his Chiefs debut at right tackle.
And guards Jon Asamoah, Ryan Lilja and left tackle Branden Albert teamed up for just their second season together in the exhibition opener against Arizona on Friday night.
The results, even for a preseason game, couldnt have been better. The Chiefs drove the ball 72 yards for touchdowns on each of their first two possessions in the 27-17 victory. Running backs averaged 6.7 yards per carry in the two drives; quarterback Matt Cassel was never in peril of being sacked in six passing attempts, and the Chiefs starters converted two of three third-down situations and one fourth-and-1.
Obviously thats what you want to see right out of the blocks, said Winston, who signed as a free agent with the Chiefs after making 87 consecutive starts for Houston. You want to see touchdowns, you want to see points.
Preseason games theres an argument to be made whether it matters or not, but what does matter is the way we were running the operation of the plays we had good tempo, getting in and out of plays, checking into plays things that we need to do to be successful. I was more impressed with how on point we were with that more than anything else.
Hudson, the Chiefs second-round draft choice in 2011, made one start at guard as a rookie, and was stepping into the shoes of longtime starter Casey Wiegmann, who retired after making more than 11,000 consecutive snaps since 2001.
Not only did Hudson have to worry about snapping the ball and blocking, hes charged with making the line calls that determine pass protection alignments.
It went pretty good, Hudson said. All of us were communicating together. The line and the quarterback got things sorted out. We worked pretty well together. It was a collective effort, the backs making good runs, the line blocking, the tight end blocking, the receivers blocking. Ive got some things I can do better, but thats what practice is for.
Im just leaning on the older guys and learning making calls and learning from my teammates.
Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel likes the blend of youth and experience in the line.
Theyre developing that cohesiveness that good offensive lines have, Crennel said. Theyre beginning to become as one. Theyre learning each other. Theyre spending time with each other. They are on the same page. It was evident in the game.
Hudson is doing a nice job making his IDs and protection calls. And I think the offensive linemen have a confidence in him being able to get it done. With a veteran like Lilja beside him, he can help quite a bit as well.
Lilja said Fridays production was a byproduct of all the work put in during the off-season program and first two weeks of training camp.
Youve got to have five guys who know what each other is thinking, Lilja said. Those first two series we were out there, we moved the ball. They didnt really give us anything too exotic. Its still early in the preseason, but we moved the ball. We converted, we did some things and we got in the end zone, and it was fun.
It felt really good to be out there and get in the end zone a couple of times. We said starting out we want to get off to a fast start in this deal, and thats to the preseason, thats to the regular season, thats to every practice, thats one of our goals as an offense.
Winston emphasized there is still room for improvement.
It would be easy right now to pat ourselves on the back and say, Wow, look how well weve done the first two weeks of camp, and be satisfied, Winston said. Everyones going to need to take a critical eye to this game.
I know I missed some blocks. I know Ive got to get up on linebackers. I know Ive got to do some things I didnt do very well in the game. Obviously it was covered up with some great running, and we were opening up some holes. When we get in the gritty part of the games, when we get in the fourth quarter of games and we need yards, we need to finish a game out or we need a first down, Im going to have to get up there.