Chiefs QB Smith out Sunday; Charles has knee surgery
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs coach Andy Reid had just declared Alex Smith out with a head injury, announced Jamaal Charles was undergoing knee surgery and revealed that Spencer Ware had yet to pass a battery of concussion tests.
Then it started to rain.
It was a fitting soundtrack for a stunningly gloomy midweek briefing.
Reid went on to say defensive lineman Jaye Howard is dealing with a hip flexor injury and offensive lineman Mitch Schwartz will be resting his sore ankle in practice. There is also the belief offensive lineman Parker Ehinger is done for the season with a knee injury.
"It’s part of the National Football League," Reid said with a shrug.
The biggest news was that Smith, whose head was slammed off the hard turf in Indianapolis twice last weekend, had been ruled out for the Chiefs’ game against Jacksonville.
Smith passed concussion tests after both of the hits, the second of which knocked him from the game, but decided to err on the side of caution.
The decision was made after consulting with an independent neurologist, talking with Reid and others in the front office — including team owner Clark Hunt — and having the results of his concussion tests reviewed by a concussion expert at the University of Pittsburgh.
"There’s no blood test where you can go in and take it and they say, ‘Yeah, you have a concussion,’" Smith said. "I’ve got three little kids. You only get one brain, far as I know. The last thing I wanted was to go out there and yeah, something happens again and all of a sudden you’re asking different questions.
"I’m not ready for that," Smith added. "I don’t want to be thinking about any of that."
Nick Foles will start in his place Sunday and Tyler Bray will serve as the backup, and Smith and Reid both expressed confidence that he will be available the following week at Carolina.
"Any kind of head trauma, whatever you want to call it, time to heal is important. Precaution here was the weighing factor," Smith said. "This was a decision we came to together."
Foles was sharp in relief last Sunday, going 16 of 22 for 223 yards with two touchdowns and no picks in a 30-16 victory. While he does not have the scrambling ability of Smith, he has a bit more arm strength that could give the Chiefs a different look against the Jaguars.
"I feel pretty good that he’s got a grasp of the offense," Reid said. "We didn’t have to change anything when he went in. I wasn’t looking at the sheet, wondering what I can call and can’t call."
Just who Foles will be handing off to Sunday is another question.
Charles had exploratory surgery Wednesday to determine why there is lingering pain in his surgically repaired right knee. The operation was performed by Dr. James Andrews, who has repaired both of the running back’s ACLs, and the belief is that Charles may have some meniscus damage.
He’s been placed on injured reserve, which means he will miss at least eight weeks. The four-time Pro Bowl running back could conceivably return for the playoffs, though that appears to be a longshot.
"Since he’s come back from this rehab he’s had pain in both knees, it’s gone back and forth," Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said. "He had some damage in that meniscus before. Dr. Andrews wants to see if it has a little flap in it or something that’s causing the discomfort."
His loss is compounded by the fact that Ware is still going through the NFL’s concussion protocol. The Chiefs’ fill-in is unlikely to play against Jacksonville, even though he has not been ruled out.
With only Charcandrick West available on the active roster, the Chiefs signed former second-round pick Bishop Sankey to shore up the position. Sankey has been on the Patriots’ practice squad, and Reid said it is possible that he will be active against the Jaguars.
"He’s got to get caught up, quickly, if he’s going to be in there," Reid said.
The Chiefs also waived linebackers Sio Moore and Sam Barrington this week. They used the roster spots to add offensive lineman Mike Person and promote linebacker Terrance Smith from the practice squad.
The net result has been a chaotic three days for the Chiefs (5-2), who are a half-game back of Oakland and Denver in the AFC West after rattling off three consecutive wins.
"We’ve all got confidence in each other," Reid said, "so we go out and next man comes in and goes. We’re not going to have to do a whole lot of different things. We’ll just play."