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NFL Beat Week 5: Kimberley A. Martin

Front Row continues a weekly series with ESPN NFL reporters who take you inside their upcoming game assignments. Kimberley A. Martin is covering the Raiders at Chiefs

After going through COVID-19 protocols, Kimberly A. Martin files one of several pre-game reports. That’s part of her Sunday game day routine. (Kimberly Martin/ESPN)

Before leaving for Kansas City to cover the Raiders and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, ESPN NFL reporter Kimberley A. Martin shared insights on this AFC West divisional matchup with Front Row. Martin and her fellow NFL reporters will provide more news and notes from around the league on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET, ESPN) and Fantasy Football Now (10 a.m. ET, ESPN2) before the games.

WEEK 5 NFL REPORTER ASSIGNMENTS

Sal Paolantonio: Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
Kimberley A. Martin: Las Vegas at Kansas City
Dan Graziano: Cincinnati at Baltimore
Dianna Russini: Indianapolis at Cleveland
Ed Werder: New York Giants at Dallas

If you were able to travel to the game with any player or coach, who would it be and why?
That’s an easy one: Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. He’s a down-to-earth, funny guy who has a way with words. But more than that, he’s the play-caller for one of the league’s most explosive offenses and still doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I’d love to get a glimpse into Bieniemy’s creative process. Plus, I’d want to hear his unfiltered thoughts on the coaching hiring practices in the NFL.

What is the first thing you’ll do when you get to the stadium?
After going through the COVID-19 protocols (i.e., online questionnaire about potential symptoms, temperature check, etc.), I’ll meet with my producer and crew early. We’ll then set up for my first TV hit of the morning, either outside of the stadium or in the stands close to the field. After that, I’ll prep for the rest of my live TV hits, while simultaneously keeping an eye on Las Vegas Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III (who has been nursing knee and hamstring injuries) and Kansas City sack-leader Chris Jones (who was inactive last week).

What are the most essential items you have on hand?
No. 1: Multiple masks. Aside from that: my two phones, two portable phone chargers, my laptop, my earpiece for live shots, binoculars to see players from the stands, snacks to munch on throughout the day and a sweater and scarf (because stadiums are cold in the morning!). This is partly why my shoulder bag weighs 50 pounds!

What are the top three storylines you’ll be reporting on?

  • The defending Super Bowl champs haven’t lost since Week 10 of the 2019 season and with a win on Sunday, the Chiefs will improve to 5-0. But after a slow offensive start against New England, how will Kansas City respond in the first quarter against Las Vegas?
  • The Raiders defense ranks dead-last or second-to-last in several statistical categories: The unit can’t get pressure on quarterbacks, doesn’t force turnovers and can’t get off the field. Meanwhile, the Chiefs remain undefeated due in large part to their defense, which is currently second in the NFL in points per game allowed.
  • Which Derek Carr will we see on Sunday? The Raiders quarterback who has completed more than 72 percent of his passes and has a rating over 107 in four straight games? Or the QB who has three of the Raiders’ four lost fumbles in the fourth quarter this season? Carr is 0-6 in his career against Kansas City, but a win at Arrowhead Stadium could go a long way in changing the perception of Carr and the Raiders’ playoff chances.

What should fantasy football players consider?
[Running back] Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s rushing production has dipped since his Week 1 breakout, but he’s a versatile cog in the Chiefs’ offense and he’s capable of making some splashes in the passing game, too.

What is your go-to stadium snack?
The 49ers have the best candy/chocolate/cookies/brownies/ice cream spread, hands down. But during these COVID times, I’m just happy if a stadium press box has water, bags of chips, and soda (because I need a caffeine kick by the time kickoff arrives!).

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