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Unknown But Important Contributors - Kansas City Chiefs Edition

The Bolts open their season against the divisional opponent many pundits predict will win the AFC West in 2016. The game may end up hinging on the performance of these relatively off the radar players. The UBIC column returns for 2016…

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

UBIC -€” Offense

Spencer Ware (RB-#32) With Jamal Charles expected to be on the shelf early in the season as he continues to heal from his October 2015 blown ACL, the Chiefs running game will fall to his back-ups.  Word out of KC after pre-season indicated that Ware is the next man up.

Bolts fans are already familiar with Ware; he saw action against the Chargers twice last season.  We are also familiar with Charcandrick West, who was the initial next man up in 2015 after Charles injury.  In the Bolts first game against KC, a horrid 33-3 trip to the woodshed, Ware ran for 96 yards on 11 attempts and scored twice.  He also caught one pass for 5 yards.  3 weeks later, in a nearly unwatchable 10-3 win for the Chiefs, Ware had 52 yards on 10 rushes.  With Ware's 5.6 YPC average for 2015, the Chiefs do not feel too badly about their running game without Charles.

Ware came from a solid college program (LSU), but was not a college star.  Getting drafted by Seattle in the 6th round of the 2013, he was cut after two non-descript seasons for the Seahawks.  He made the Chiefs final 53 man roster in 2015 and finished the season as KC's leading rusher, also leading the team in rushing TD's.  The 5'10", 225 lb. Ware does not have elusiveness, but runs with authority and power.  He also offers some aptitude in the passing game than West does; while not a breakaway or even big play threat as a receiver, he has had dependable hands in what has been a small sample size to this point.

Ware is big enough to be a credible Fullback and I would not be surprised to see West and Ware on the field at the same time.  Reid mixes in a lot of creative blocking and misdirection into his running game and the west coast offense that KC runs likes to use RB's as outlet or designed receivers.  Perrymen and Te'o will not be able to key on pass or run when Ware is on the field.

Honorable Mention

Albert Wilson (WR-#12) While Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce sit firmly at the top of the Chiefs passing target pecking order, Wilson was 3rd on the team in receiving yards last season.  Wilson came on later in the season, but clearly established himself as the team's #2 receiver over the last 6 games.  AT 5'9", 200 pounds, Wilson is undersized for an outside receiver, but he can work there.  He does a lot of his work from the slot and starting outside to work his way in on slants and shallow crosses.  The system used by KC can get production from a receiver like Wilson.  How well he fares against Heyward and Flowers (Maclin should be seeing a lot #22 on Sunday) could be an important subplot in this game.

UBIC -€” Defense

Dee Ford (OLB/DE #55) On the strength of a 10.5 sack, 14.5 tackles for loss, Ford was deemed to be worthy of KC's first round selection in 2014.  After 2 seasons of work, the resulting 24 tackles and 5.5 sacks would not suggest production worthy of a 1st round choice.  Granted, the selection was at the back-end of the first round, but still...

Remember though that Ford is an OLB, a pass rushing specialist and he plays on a team that normally can put Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on the field at the OLB/DE spot.  When Ford has seen the field, he has used his freakish speed for a 255-pound man and been productive.  While usually not able to get on the field, this Sunday will be different.  Houston is still recovering from a late 2015 injury and will miss the game on Sunday.

The last time the Bolts played the Chiefs, Ford was on the field for all but one defensive snap.  He recorded 3 sacks going up against King Dunlap for 7 plays and Chris Hairston for the remainder.  Dunlap will have to make certain that he can slow down Ford enough to permit Rivers to get the ball out.  This will not be an easy task against a strong, fast man with good footwork and something to prove.

Honorable Mention

Phillip Gaines (#23 CB) Last season, Marcus Peters was the defensive UBIC for the Chiefs.  The rookie was busy making a name for himself and he certainly had an amazing rookie season.  On the other side of the field, Gaines will find himself on the opposite island from Peters.  Drafted in the 3rd round of 2014, he will replace the Sean Smith, the veteran CB that played opposite of Peters in 2015.  Gaines recorded 5 solo tackles and one assist last season; this season he will be expected to do a lot more.  With Keenan Allen more than likely matched up against Peters, Gaines will be expected to shut down Williams or Benjamin.  Bolts fans will be hoping that he doesn't succeed.