The Chiefs are looking thin at defensive end in the week they’re preparing for the Broncos.
As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to face the Denver Broncos in Week 7, the team’s depth and talent at defensive end is going to be tested if current injuries hold up through the weekend.
On Thursday, defensive ends Taco Charlton and Alex Okafor were both forced to miss practice for the second consecutive day due to knee and hamstring injuries, respectively. On Wednesday, Charlton and Okafor were among multiple players sitting out—including wide receiver Sammy Watkins and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
Charlton has been a pleasant surprise for the Chiefs as a low-risk signing brought in to see if a change in scenery (and coaching) could help develop the potential that made him a first round pick in 2017 for the Dallas Cowboys. The Michigan product is only playing 19 percent of all defensive snaps for K.C. but is making the most of his opportunities with 4 quarterback hits and 2 sacks on the year.
Okafor is a solid veteran who started opposite Frank Clark along the Chiefs defensive front last season. This year, he’s had a hard time finding momentum with hamstring injuries that won’t allow him to see the field for more than a couple games at a time. Okafor also missed six games last season due to injuries.
The Chiefs are already missing rookie end Mike Danna, who landed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury after leaving in Week 4 against the New England Patriots.
If the team is forced to play without all three players, the team is suddenly looking very thin at defensive end. Frank Clark is a cornerstone on one side and Tanoh Kpassagnon is an important starter on the other, but the rotation will be a concern given that seldom-used Demone Harris is the only other end there. Of course, players like Chris Jones and Tershawn Wharton can slide around, but the team is still operating without key depth as they prepare to face the Broncos.
It will be interesting to see if Charlton and/or Okafor can return to practice in any capacity on Friday before final injury reports are turned in. If not, it will require some juggling on Steve Spagnuolo’s part to reorient his defensive line a bit to get the Chiefs through another game.