Rested Chiefs turn attention to playoffs

The Chiefs didn’t take any chances in a regular-season finale

that had no bearing on their playoff situation, resting virtually

all of their starters in an overtime loss to San Diego.

Now, it appears the Chiefs will be near full strength for the

first time in weeks when they visit the Indianapolis Colts for an

AFC wild-card playoff game on Saturday.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday that wide receiver Dwayne

Bowe was going through the protocol to clear him from a concussion

that he sustained against the Colts two weeks ago, while outside

linebacker Tamba Hali is making progress from inflammation in his

knee.

Fellow linebacker Justin Houston, who’s been out with a

dislocated elbow, and left tackle Branden Albert, who’s had a

hyperextended knee, are also expected back against the Colts.

”It’s the start of a new season. That’s how the playoffs

work,” Reid said. ”You’re in the dance, as they say. It’s another

phase of the season. You’ve worked very hard as a team to get into

this position. Now it’s important that you exhaust yourself to make

sure you’re right.”

At least in terms of health, the Chiefs are getting right at the

right time.

Bowe would not have been cleared to play in the 27-24 loss to

the Chargers, but Reid sounded optimistic Monday that he’ll be

ready to go against Indianapolis. The Chiefs’ top pass catcher was

hurt late in a 23-7 loss to the Colts at Arrowhead Stadium when he

landed on his neck.

Hali, meanwhile, developed some tenderness in his knee against

the Colts, and the team’s leading pass rusher was held out of

practice last week. Reid said Monday ”the inflammation in his knee

has gone down, and we’ll just see how he does tomorrow.”

The Chiefs are scheduled to have a full practice on Tuesday.

Houston and Albert both practiced fully last week, only to sit

out Sunday with a slew of other key players. Houston hasn’t played

since hurting his elbow against San Diego on Nov. 24, while Albert

hurt his knee the following week against Denver.

Reid also said that cornerback Sean Smith, who hurt his knee

Sunday, was doing fine when he arrived to the team’s practice

facility Monday. Right tackle Eric Fisher, who left the game and

has been dealing with shoulder injuries, is also expected to be

ready for the Colts.

”Obviously, guys are going to be feeling pretty fresh, so

that’s a good thing,” said quarterback Alex Smith, who was among

seven inactive for the Chargers game. ”It will really help us as

far as the week goes, having a great week of preparation.”

After going just 2-14 last season, the Chiefs fired coach Romeo

Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli and overhauled most of the

front office. Reid was brought in along with new GM John Dorsey,

and in short order they managed to change the entire culture of the

franchise.

Kansas City raced to a 9-0 start fueled by an opportunistic

defense and spectacular special teams, only to struggle down the

stretch. The Chiefs will head into the playoffs having lost five of

their last seven games, including their first meeting with the

Colts.

Reid was quick to point out that several of those were narrow

defeats, including a last-second loss to the Chargers at Arrowhead

Stadium and the overtime loss Sunday.

If that’s cause for concern, Reid wasn’t letting on. And in any

case, the fact that the Chiefs are headed on the road for their

wild-card game could be reason for optimism. They went against

conventional wisdom by going 6-2 on the road this season.

”I think the team has confidence they can go into another

stadium, loud – we faced Denver and it was loud – this will be

loud, and play good, solid and productive football,” Reid

said.

Reid acknowledged speaking to his team on the plane returning

from San Diego on Sunday about the urgency that comes with the

postseason. The Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since the 1993

season, and 25 players on the 53-man roster have never participated

in a playoff game.

”The biggest thing you notice in the playoffs is everything is

a little bit faster, every step you take for some reason, it’s a

little faster,” Reid said, ”and I think both teams know it’s

single-elimination. That’s why the games are that way.”

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