Injuries force Chiefs to make major O-line shuffles
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Daniel Munyer was cut by the Chiefs in mid-October and retreated to the University of Colorado, where he stayed in shape by volunteering to help his alma mater with the offensive line.
Then his phone rang Sunday.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey had just watched left tackle Eric Fisher leave a game with a neck injury, Jeff Allen depart with an ankle injury and Mitch Morse leave with a concussion. His team was suddenly so short of bodies that coach Andy Reid contemplated using a tight end on the line.
Allen managed to play through the pain the rest of the way in a 30-22 win over Buffalo, but the perilous lack of depth caused Dorsey to give Munyer a call.
"You have to have a next-man-up attitude because when you’re called upon, you have to take advantage of it," said Munyer, who quickly jumped on a flight from Denver to Kansas City.
As the Chiefs prepare to visit Oakland on Sunday, they are contemplating their sixth offensive line combination this season. Morse remains out with a concussion, so Zach Fulton is likely to get his first start at center, while Fisher and Allen were still slowed in practice this week.
Exactly what the line looks like against the Raiders is anybody’s guess.
"I really don’t get into all that with the guys," Reid said. "The guys come in and they go. If you practice, you practice. If you can’t, you can’t and we roll. That’s the approach we’ve taken and the guys are good with it.
"They battle like crazy to get themselves back and if they can’t make it, they have trust in the guys around them that they’ll step in and do a good job," Reid added. "We’ve kind of just left it at that."
That may be an overly simplistic approach to things.
The Chiefs (6-5) had used the same offensive line the last four weeks, and that coincided with four of the five wins during their current streak. Not only did they do a competent job of protecting quarterback Alex Smith, they paved the way for journeyman running backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware to become fantasy football heroes in place of the injured Jamaal Charles.
They’re averaging more than 30 points per game during their streak, and that’s pushed Kansas City into a tie for fifth in the NFL in scoring for the season.
"To be honest," Smith said, "I feel like all the juggling we’ve done last year and this offseason and training camp earlier this year, different guys playing — moving guys around — maybe early in the year it was hard on it, but I think at this point it starts to become a strength."
It certainly came in handy against the Bills.
Fulton started at guard last season and has been a backup this season, but he slid to center and didn’t flub a snap in the rainy slop. Donald Stephenson has shuffled all along the line, Jah Reid has filled in admirably, and Allen has been used at guard and tackle depending on the week.
Munyer can play guard and center, making him a valuable addition.
"We’ve had a lot of guys play at a high level and I think Sunday was a great example of that," Smith said. "It’s that time of year, guys are going to get banged up and move around and obviously, as the week goes on, we’ll find out how healthy we get."
Notes: S Eric Berry was back at practice Thursday. He had a routine checkup Wednesday with the specialists in Atlanta who treated him for lymphoma. … DE Mike DeVito (shoulder) was back practicing after missing Wednesday’s workout. … Morse and De’Anthony Thomas (concussions) were held out again.
- Alex Smith
- Charcandrick West
- Daniel Munyer
- De'Anthony Thomas
- Donald Stephenson
- Eric Berry
- Eric Fisher
- FOX Sports Kansas City
- Jah Reid
- Jamaal Charles
- Jeff Allen
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Mike DeVito
- Mitch Morse
- Spencer Ware
- Zach Fulton