The offensive line was already a minor concern heading into the season for the Chiefs which is why the team tried to re-sign Stefen Wisniewski and actually drafted TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang in the third round. Unfortunately, injuries and opt outs have forced the Chiefs to move forward with a patchwork approach.
So far, the Chiefs have to be pleased with the work of the team’s backup linemen thus far. There’s little in the way of chemistry or continuity among the performers up front due to myriad changes, but the Chiefs keep winning and the offense has looked sensational most games. That’s a testament to the coaching staff, the front office, and of course the players themselves.
Still it’s tough on a team to lose one starting guard to an opt out (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif), a rookie to the same (Niang), and another starting guard to injury (Kelechi Osemele). On Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Mike Remmers was taken out for a spell from right tackle which meant Yasir Durant played meaningful reps as an undrafted free agent in his place—who was already playing in place of Mitchell Schwartz.
All of this is important because they are all changes happening alongside the fact that the Chiefs have been without Schwartz, their cornerstone lineman, for the last few weeks. Ever since back pain forced him out early against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6, Schwartz has missed three-plus games. After holding the active NFL record for most consecutive snaps, Schwartz has now been among the team’s inactive players for nearly a month.
All we know at this point about Schwartz is that it’s a back injury, which seems like the kind of thing that could plague a player for some time. Have the Chiefs been waiting for the bye week? Are they just wanting to make sure he’s good for the postseason? Can he return as soon as Week 11 against the Raiders? And is this threatening to his future in the league?
The Chiefs have given very little clarity about Schwartz’s health to this point, but getting Schwartz back is going to be crucial down the stretch as the Chiefs fight for the AFC’s top seed.