The Chiefs’ depth in the defensive backfield is already being tested.
Starting safety Kendrick Lewis is out with a right shoulder injury he sustained early in the Chiefs’ preseason loss to the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night. Lewis was helping to make a tackle when he appeared to hurt his shoulder, and he immediately left the game.
His right arm was in a sling after the Chiefs’ 31-17 loss.
Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said Sunday that Lewis will miss ”a bit of time,” but did not provide details on the injury or a more definitive timetable.
Lewis is expected to wear a sling for several more days before starting a rehab program, but Crennel said the two-year starter is not considered a candidate for injured reserve.
”He has to have no surgery or anything like that,” Crennel said, ”but he has to rest that shoulder and immobilize it a little bit before we can start movement.”
Lewis was clearly frustrated with the injury, spiking his helmet into the sideline turf at the Edward Jones Dome after leaving the field. He had surgery in the offseason to repair a torn pectoral, which ultimately limited him during the Chiefs’ offseason program.
”He injured the same shoulder before,” Crennel said, ”(but) it’s a different injury.”
Lewis was the Chiefs’ fifth-round draft pick two years ago, but has developed into a reliable playmaker in the defensive backfield. He started 10 of 12 games as a rookie, and all 16 last year, when he made 47 tackles and intercepted three passes.
The Chiefs are already without cornerback Brandon Flowers, who hasn’t practice since July 31 because of a bruised heel. The injury was initially considered minor, but it has kept the team’s top cornerback off the field far longer than Crennel had anticipated.
”We’re not good enough, but we’ve got enough people, let’s put it that way,” Crennel said, when asked whether depth was becoming an issue.
The Chiefs struggled in the defensive backfield last season after losing Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry to a torn left ACL in the opener. Veteran safety Jon McGraw was hurt much of the season, and the guys behind them on the depth chart were routinely beaten for long pass plays.
General manager Scott Pioli worked to shore up the depth problem in the offseason, bringing in free-agent safety Abram Elam and drafting DeQuan Menzie in the fifth round. But Menzie has been out with a hip injury — and is also transitioning from safety to cornerback — which leaves Elam as the best option should Lewis end up missing significant time.
Elam started all 16 games last season with Dallas, making 50 tackles, and has started 64 of the 92 games he’s played in the NFL. He has 278 tackles and five sacks in his career.
”I’m glad we got him, definitely, because he’s an experienced guy,” Crennel said. ”He has some maturity level about him. He’s able to grasp the system and I think he’ll do a good job.”
Second-year pro Jalil Brown has been getting reps at cornerback with Flowers out, though he didn’t perform particularly well against St. Louis. Travis Daniels can play both cornerback and safety, but he’s been dealing with nagging injuries of his own.
Daniel is not expected to practice fully on Monday, when the Chiefs begin preparations for Friday night’s preseason game against Seattle, but Crennel said there were no other significant injuries to come out of the game against the Rams.
”You always got guys who get banged up a little bit,” he said, ”but nothing major.”