KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There was one player guaranteed of a roster spot who started on offense Thursday for the Kansas City Chiefs in their last preseason game.
That happened to be the same player who influenced people to actually go to Arrowhead Stadium and watch the last preseason game.
Oh, a handful of other guys will probably make the squad once roster cuts are revealed. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson should be among them, but if so, he has celebrated backup Patrick Mahomes to partially thank after Kansas City upended Tennessee 30-6.
Three times in the first half, the speedy Robinson slipped behind the Titans defense and caught strikes Mahomes zipped with his potent arm. After a 53-yard connection in the first quarter, Mahomes also hit Robinson in stride for a 28-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the half.
“A great arm. You saw him tonight,’’ Robinson said. “He was just slinging the ball without effort and making completions.’’
Coupled with a 76-yard punt return by rookie Jehu Chesson, the late TD throw gave the Chiefs a 13-3 halftime lead.
Playing the entire half, a segment Chiefs coach Andy Reid designated for Mahomes earlier in the week, the Texas Tech rookie went 9 of 16 passing for 183 yards.
“I feel like I’ve gotten better every single day,’’ Mahomes said. “It’s a process, but you want to come into every single practice and every single game to improve.’’
Enough that Mahomes expressed confidence as he heads into his first NFL season, which begins in earnest for the Chiefs next Thursday in New England against the mighty Patriots.
Rookie mistakes were evident. An interception thrown mistakenly into coverage was wiped out when a review determined the Tennessee defender, Jayon Brown, did not control the football.
Yet on the snap before that miscue, Mahomes showed the pizzazz that created a buzz ever since the Chiefs moved up 17 picks to take him with the 10th overall choice in the NFL Draft.
After patiently waiting for a receiver to get open, Mahomes was flushed from the pocket. While scrambling to his right, he connected on an electrifying 46-yard bomb to Robinson, who averaged a whopping 42.3 yards on his three first-half receptions.
“For me it’s all about getting the ball up and letting the receiver make a play,’’ Mahomes said. “I saw Demarcus on the guy and the guy was behind him, and I knew if I put it out there he would make a play on the ball and he did. …
“I went through all the reads, they had things covered up pretty well, so I went to the right after the line had protected me for a day and a half.’’
Mahomes proved so elusive that the Titan defender attempting to chase him down, Kevin Dodd, was injured on the play and needed considerable time on the field to recover.
“I’d seen him starting to scramble,’’ said Robinson, “and I was like, man, I knew I had a good quarterback and he could make down-the-field plays. I just had to get open.’’
Granted, Mahomes was playing against Tennessee backups.
Yet he was also working behind reserves on a Chiefs line that had disappointed during the preseason.
In addition, as well as Robinson performed, he is a second-year pro listed as a third-stringer.
Fans who understand … grasp … realize that veteran Alex Smith will (sigh) be the Chiefs starter had to at least wonder what a 2-minute drill might look like with Mahomes and Robinson as partners.
As exciting as they were on deep routes, the Chiefs’ first touchdown was just as savory.
Chesson, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan, darted for a 76-yard touchdown with 9:36 left in the second quarter. Chesson began his trek along the visiting sideline before crossing the field by avoiding enough tacklers while stumbling over the last few yards.
Tyler Bray quarterbacked the Chiefs in the third quarter and tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Gavin Escobar at the 1:52 mark to cap an 85-yard drive.
Joel Stave closed out the game at quarterback for KC and fired a 68-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Jones with 9:54 remaining.
With none of the regulars in action and the Chiefs already short-handed in the backfield because of a season-ending knee injury to Spencer Ware, handoffs were given to free-agent rookie Devine Redding, who gained 59 yards on 21 rushes.