Chiefs’ Justin Houston has knee strain, outlook uncertain
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs were quickly running out of offensive linemen as one by one they went down with injuries, and for the briefest of moments, Andy Reid might have thought he’d need to suit up himself.
Hey, it’s only been 34 years since the coach played for BYU.
The Chiefs ultimately got by with Jeff Allen, hurt earlier in Sunday’s game against Buffalo, getting back on the field. But things could be dicey going forward after left tackle Eric Fisher hurt his neck and center Mitch Morse sustained a concussion in the 30-22 victory.
To say nothing of the knee injury to Justin Houston.
The All-Pro pass rusher went down when he was tripped by his own teammate while chasing a play in the first half Sunday. He lay face-down on the field while trainers tended to him, then was helped to the sideline and into the locker room. He was seen limping out of it after the game.
Reid indicated the injury is similar to one Houston sustained in a playoff loss to the Colts nearly two years ago. In that case, it was a strained knee ligament — depending on the severity of it, such an injury can sideline a player anywhere from two weeks to half a season.
In the midst of a playoff chase, the Chiefs (6-5) visit Oakland on Sunday and are hopeful Houston will be back soon.
"He’s going to get an MRI today," Reid said Monday. "I don’t want to put anything out there. Let’s see how that is how bad it is, and go from there. I think he’s doing OK."
The Chiefs have rebounded from a 1-5 start in part because they have been better than other teams at dealing with injuries. Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles was lost for the season to his own knee injury, while offensive lineman Ben Grubbs remains sidelined by a neck injury.
Several other starters have missed time, including running back Charcandrick West, who had started since Charles went down but missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.
"That’s one thing I like about my team. We find a way to persevere," said Spencer Ware, who ran for 114 yards and a touchdown in his first start. "With Jamal going down and then Charcandrick going down, our whole team is filled with people that prepare like they are the guy, so when the time comes they’re able to step in. And that’s what we do."
That’s what the Chiefs did along the offensive line on Sunday.
Reid said he would have slid a tight end or defensive lineman into the game ahead of himself if the Chiefs ran out of offensive linemen. But with injuries mounting on the defense line, Reid also acknowledged that "we were a little low there, too."
"You can’t say enough," said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who was sacked just once but did not lose any yardage on it. "Three injuries, moving the line around, playing different positions and still being able to get it done really speaks to their depth."
Reid has been in this position before, during his final year in Philadelphia. But he is confident that Kansas City has more depth than the Eagles did back then, when injuries conspired to send them to a 4-12 record and Reid was fired after 14 seasons.
"I’m always going to tell you, (general manager) John Dorsey and his crew do a phenomenal job of bringing these guys in," Reid said. "You’re looking at guys with big hearts."
Not to mention a team that, despite its ailments, is in the thick of the playoff hunt.
"It’s one of those things, next man up," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "Coach Reid holds us to a high level, everybody across the board, second and third string, offense and defense. You have to come in and respond and play well."