Chiefs still without five starters as showdown with Broncos looms closer

Dee Ford missed practice on Wednesday, and it's unknown whether he'll play in Sunday's game against Denver.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs hope to get at least some of their injured players back for Sunday night's showdown at Denver.

But as of Wednesday, the prognosis for their return was still unsure.

Five starters, including wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (groin), nose tackle Dontari Poe (knee), defensive end Jaye Howard (hip) and linebackers Dee Ford and Derrick Johnson -- both of whom have hamstring injuries -- all didn't practice.

The Chiefs and Broncos are tied for second in the AFC West at 7-3, a game behind Oakland.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he thought Johnson's soreness would "be OK by game time."

As for the other starters, a lot is left to be determined.

Ford has started all 10 games for the Chiefs this season, with 32 total tackles and 10 sacks.

Going into the Week 11 matchup against Tampa Bay, he led the league in sacks. He left the game against the Buccaneers without a sack and is tied with Buffalo's Lorenzo Alexander and Seattle's Cliff Avril.

Reid isn't sure if Ford's hamstring strain is an injury that puts him out for the long term, or if it's something he'll bounce back from quickly.

"We're literally taking it day to day," Reid said. "You talk to him and he's upbeat about everything, so we'll just have to see how it goes."

Ford watched practice from the sideline in street clothes.

Maclin has been sidelined with a groin injury since Week 9. He left Kansas City's game against Jacksonville in the first quarter.

Reid said on Wednesday that Maclin is making progress, but didn't give a timetable for his return.

Since Maclin has been out, wide receiver Albert Wilson has started in his place. Wilson caught eight passes for 44 yards in his past two games.

Poe wasn't practicing because of the knee injury.

Running back Charcandrick West and defensive end Kendall Reyes also didn't practice.

West is going through the concussion protocol, while Reid said Reyes "had a little bit of swelling on his knee."

If West isn't cleared to play Sunday, that leaves the Chiefs with two healthy running backs in Knile Davis and Spencer Ware to take on Denver's stout defense.

Reid isn't fazed.

"I think we'll be all right," Reid said. "When it's all said and done, I think we'll be OK."

Ware took the majority of Kansas City's carries against Tampa Bay, rushing 17 times for 69 yards.

Through all the injury issues comes some good news: starting cornerback Marcus Peters practiced Wednesday.

After he missed Sunday's game because of a hip pointer, Reid said the coaching staff was going to keep a close eye on Peters and his reps during Wednesday's practice.

Peters, a second-year corner out of Washington, is tied for the league lead in interceptions with New York Giants' Landon Collins and San Diego's Casey Hayward.

The defensive backs each have five picks. Peters, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, hadn't missed a game until last week.

Regardless of who's on the field, it's the next man up mentality for Kansas City.

"The team on the field is the team," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "We don't get any breaks. ... We'd love to have them all.

"Three weeks ago, we'd have loved to have Justin (Houston), but it is what it is. ... We can't cancel. We can't completely change our system, so we adjust."