Khalen Saunders injury update: Chiefs lineman will return in 1 month

The Chiefs will likely see Khalen Saunders back in one month from an elbow injury.

According to NFL reporter Ian Rapoport, the Kansas City Chiefs won’t expect to see Khalen Saunders return before one month’s time. However, given the potential for greater injury severity, the team is lucky to see such a limited timeline of four weeks.

Saunders left the team’s season-opening game against the Houston Texans with a dislocated elbow. Fortunately, as Rapoport notes, Saunders avoided surgery in the process and should be able to heal in time by midseason.

Saunders is a key piece in the Chiefs defense as an impressive young lineman with loads of potential. The Chiefs selected him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft with the knowledge that he would need time to adjust to the pro level after playing at Western Illinois. While his technique needed coaching and his football IQ needed reps, Saunders possessed the rare blend of size and athleticism at the position that is hard to find—think Dontari Poe as a potential ceiling.

Coming into his second season, Saunders was ready to make the leap in a game that would naturally slow down for him given his experience level. Instead, the elbow injury set him back at a key point. The Chiefs have talent in the interior with Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi, but Saunders is an important cog and could eventually supplant Nnadi if he can realize his promise.

Now the Chiefs will find their depth tested in the next few weeks in key games against the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. Fortunately Mike Pennel returns from suspension after the Chiefs visit the L.A. Chargers in Week 2 to help bolster the position.