Dontari Poe
Back surgery sidelines Chiefs Pro Bowl DT Poe
Dontari Poe

Back surgery sidelines Chiefs Pro Bowl DT Poe

Published Jul. 28, 2015 5:06 p.m. ET

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs are facing a potentially devastating loss on defense, even though training camp doesn't begin for veterans until this weekend.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe will miss camp and likely part of the season after undergoing surgery last week on a herniated disc. The injury initially occurred during the Chiefs' voluntary offseason program, but Poe aggravated it during a workout at home on July 8.

Poe had surgery to remove the disc on July 15.

"He's not doing a whole lot of rehab or treatment. He's just resting," Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Tuesday as rookies and select veterans reported to training camp at Missouri Western. "I've told the coaches we won't talk about any more activity with Dontari until we get out of training camp."


Poe is expected to report with the rest of veterans Friday, but he will spend his time with Burkholder and the training staff rather than on the practice field.

Coach Andy Reid said Jaye Howard will be first in line for repetitions, but veteran Mike DeVito and sixth-round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches could compete for time.

Asked whether he expects Poe back for the season opener Sept. 13 at Houston, Reid replied: "I think he stands a reasonable chance the early part of the season, whether it's the beginning or somewhere early in the season for his return. You just have to see, see how he recovers.

"It's a positive thing," Reid insisted, "and it's something he needed to get done, as opposed to have that other deal antagonize him throughout the season."

The two-time Pro Bowl selection is coming off arguably the best season of his three-year career. Poe had six sacks despite facing constant double teams, and he was invaluable in slowing down the running game, something that plagued Kansas City all season.

The Chiefs at least have reasonable depth at his position.

Howard started 10 of the 16 games he played in a year ago, and DeVito is returning from a torn Achilles tendon that sidelined him in Week 1. Nunez-Roches is a raw prospect out of Southern Miss, but his size and athleticism made him a favorite among coaches this summer.

Yet replacing Poe is a 6-foot-3, 346-pound task. His bulk and the physical demands of his position combined with the nature of the injury make any return uncertain.

"He'll have extensive rehab and treatment," Burkholder acknowledged.

The news put a damper on what has been an upbeat offseason for the Chiefs.

After barely missing the playoffs a year ago, they upgraded their offense by signing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in free agency. They also return Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson from a season-ending injury, and signed All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston to new contract.

There also have even been positive reports on the status of safety Eric Berry, who missed much of last season after he was diagnosed with lymphoma. It remains unknown whether Berry will be able to play at all this season, but Reid said Tuesday that he is undergoing more testing this week and that there should be news on his status soon.

"He's kept himself in good shape, believe it or not. He's done a really good job there. But like I've said, he has to go through all the formalities here," Reid said.

If nothing else, the return of Berry to the team -- even as an observer -- could lift the spirits of team that could be without Poe for much of the season.

"We're all fans of his in this situation," Reid said. "He's getting the tests done and we'll take it from there. I know everyone is chomping at the bit, Eric more than anybody."


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