Frank Clark is the Kansas City Chiefs biggest injury concern
By Matt Conner
The Kansas City Chiefs are relatively healthy entering the stretch run of the regular season but Frank Clark remains the biggest concern.
On Wednesday, Frank Clark was limited in his participation in practice for the Kansas City Chiefs. On Thursday, he was not able to participate at all.
The most recent Chiefs injury report lists both a shoulder injury and an illness as the reasons for which Clark has missed practice, but these are only the latest concerns. A neck injury plagued Clark at the beginning of the year and the end results left him numb, without feeling in some fingers. He was given Weeks 8 and 9 off in response.
While Clark has taken heat for failing to live up to the mammoth contract he was given by the team earlier this year, there’s no denying that his presence is a game-changer along the line for the Chiefs. Even as he’s been playing while hurt, Clark is the recipient of double teams, extra attention, holds that aren’t called and anything that can distract or keep him from collapsing the pocket.
Together with Chris Jones, it’s a nearly impossible combination for teams to keep at bay—forcing the quarterback to make poor decisions or inaccurate throws at opportune times. Philip Rivers tossed four interceptions two weeks ago. Derek Carr threw two, including a pick-six to Juan Thornhill. The Chiefs needed key wins to stave off the competition in the AFC West and it was the team’s defense that came up big to help them gather the positive momentum that they feel now.
Unfortunately Clark is back on the shelf, although it’s unknown how his current status will affect him for Sunday afternoon’s showdown against the New England Patriots. If he’s unable to go, the Chiefs will have that much more difficult of a time to stay alive for any sort of first round bye in the postseason. More important, however, is keeping Clark healthy (or helping him get there) for the playoffs.
Going without Clark in the next week or even more would be another reason for those already set against him (or, rather, the tremendous cost it took to import Clark in the first place) another talking point. The bigger picture, however, is that Clark can silence all doubters with an impact performance in the postseason—when memories are really made. The Chiefs have a very real opportunity in front of them, and Clark is a major factor in any Super Bowl possibility.
Clark’s health will be something to watch closely with the Patriots coming up in Week 14, but the Chiefs should be tuned in even more to make sure Clark is good to go when it counts. Letting him have another break might be difficult but it’s worth it in the end. There’s too much at stake for him to simply play through the pain for the sake of competition.