Dontari Poe: The Chiefs must find his replacement

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Dec 8, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball in front of Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito (70) in the first quarter at FedEx Field. The Chiefs won 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The answer to the Poe workload problem comes with an answer easier said than done: find someone who can take 10-15 snaps per game off of Poe’s plate. However, the lack of a clear backup becomes devastating if the Chiefs have to create a platoon to take all of Poe’s snaps if his back injury costs him regular-season games.

The lack of a clear backup becomes devastating if the Chiefs have to create a platoon to take all of Poe’s snaps if his back injury costs him regular-season games.

The problem gets deeper when you look at the Chiefs’ empty cupboard of potential candidates. On’s unofficial Chiefs depth chart, Charles Tuaau (rookie undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M-Commerce) is the only name listed behind Poe at DT. However, a few other names have a chance to rise out of training camp.

The player with the most invested in him currently is sixth-round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches, rookie out of Southern Miss. A pre-draft analysis on  projected that Nunez-Roches would be a third or fourth-round pick, but “falling” to the sixth round was not proclaimed as a national injustice. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 307 pounds, he is roughly an inch shorter and 40 pounds lighter than Poe, but he has some of the physical traits and, at the very least, enough of an unknown factor to make him the most interesting potential backup of the group.

In the meantime, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star tweeted that Andy Reid expects Jaye Howard will fill in for Poe for now. Playing mostly defensive end in 2014 after injuries to Mike DeVito and Mike Catapano, Howard played over 400 defensive snaps for the Chiefs, but he is now a prime candidate to slide to the middle of the line. If DeVito stays healthy and returns to defensive end, Howard becomes the likely frontrunner to fill Poe’s shoes.

Though DeVito seems poised to return to the outside, according to Paylor, Reid said that DeVito (along with Nunez-Roches) got work at nose tackle in OTAs. It’s not DeVito’s natural position, but he could get snaps in the middle to prepare for a situation where injuries keep piling up.

Next: More help on the roster?