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3 Kansas City Chiefs players who could see increased roles in 2021 – Chiefs Wire

After drastically re-shaping their roster following their Super Bowl loss, the Kansas City Chiefs are headed into 2021 with a bevy of new talent and a slew of new players. Between players returning from opting out last season, the 2021 NFL draft and high-profile free agent additions, the team has a new look. It’s much different than the 2020 NFL season when the team returned 21-of-22 starters from their championship 2019 roster.
Some of the contributors from 2020 seem to have been lost in the mix. With the departure of players like Sammy Watkins and Bashaud Breeland and a position change for Chris Jones, starting roles opened up on both sides of the ball. Training camp served as an open competition with several players making a case for an expanded role.
Strong showings in the preseason have left Kansas City with one of the deepest rosters in the NFL after cuts. With the home opener just days away, these returning players could see a major increase in usage for the Chiefs this year.
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A fifth-round pick last season, Danna didn’t see the field much in 2020. He played just over 30% of the snaps on defense last season, but he’s someone who could have a key rotational role this year. Chris Jones’ move from defensive tackle to defensive end, ensured that Danna wouldn’t be a starter. However, as Jones transitions to his new position, and in the event Frank Clark becomes unavailable, Danna could become a major contributor. He looked great in the preseason, improving his performances in each of the team’s three exhibition games.
Kansas City’s decision to cut standout defensive end Tim Ward last week was a clear sign of confidence in Danna. He has been listed as Frank Clark’s backup for the entirety of the preseason, despite being out-produced by Ward. He was praised by coaches throughout training camp for being instinctive, athletic, and a student of the game. Their faith in his development could bear fruit if the need for a spot starter arises at his position.
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With Mecole Hardman taking over as a starting receiver opposite Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle has found himself third on the depth chart on the NFL’s most decorated offense. A fan favorite after playing his college ball at Kansas State, Pringle burst onto the scene as a kick returner last year, but only played in a limited role on the Chiefs’ offense. Stuck behind Hardman, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, Pringle only caught 13 balls for 160 yards and a single touchdown in the regular season. Even after his teammates lobbied for Pringle to get more playing time, he registered a lone reception in the Super Bowl.
The pick-your-poison duo of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce should open up opportunities for Pringle to make a big impact this season. He showed some big-play ability in the preseason, catching 7 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City will need their third or fourth options to make significant contributions this season, even if Hill and Kelce will see the majority of targets in any given game.
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As an undrafted rookie, Wharton made a relatively large impact on the Chiefs’ defense as a people-mover upfront. He registered tackles in all but three games and made his way to the quarterback twice for sacks. His playing time increased throughout the season, and he played in about half of Kansas City’s defensive snaps in the Super Bowl.
For being in his first season after a jump from Division II football at Missouri S&T, the campaign he was able to put together in 2020 was impressive. He should be able to build on it this year, despite the signing of Jarran Reed.  Wharton is in an enviable position on a defense that looks to be much improved from last season. He’ll only be needed in a rotational role in the first couple of weeks, but could bring new life to the line when the starters, Reed and Derrick Nnadi, need a rest.
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