Coming into training camp for the K.C. Chiefs at St. Joseph, the youngsters looked ready to play along the interior while veterans were holding down the exterior spots. Shortly after the first game, however, injuries and opportunity have altered course a bit, allowing rookie tackle Lucas Niang to take over the right tackle role.
Veteran Mike Remmers was penciled in as the starting right tackle for the Chiefs in the first preseason depth chart, giving the Chiefs experience outside with Orlando Brown opposite him at the bookends to help stabilize an otherwise very young line reliant on two rookies to fill the center and right guard spots in Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, respectively.
Remmers started a dozen games at right tackle for the Chiefs last season between the regular season and postseason in the wake of a back injury to Mitchell Schwartz. Signed as a jack-of-all-trades to backup multiple spots on the line, Remmers instead turned in a helluva performance as a fill-in for the best player along the Chiefs o-line. Hence the reason the team brought him back on another one-year deal.
Mike Remmers’ return from injury makes things interesting at right tackle.
Unfortunately for Remmers, he’s been sidelined with the same ongoing back concerns that plagued Schwartz a season ago. Back spasms have kept Remmers out for well over a week, which has thrust Niang into the first-team unit. He held that place long enough to keep the role in the first matchup on the preseason schedule.
The early returns after the Chiefs opening preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers were solid for Niang and company. Yet as the team returned to practice at Missouri Western State University, Remmers was back in the fold in the team’s practice on Monday. Remmers’ return bolsters the line and provides necessary competition for Niang and others, but it also forces the Chiefs to respond to his presence in practice and on the forthcoming depth chart.
Will Remmers find himself back in his old position when the Chiefs take on the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night in their second preseason game? Will Niang return to man the post and build further chemistry and continuity for an all-rookie right side?
Remmers is in place as a stop-gap for the Chiefs—that much is clear. The very nature of his contract as a one-year deal speaks to that reality, and the third-round investment in Niang was made for a good reason. The Chiefs clearly envision Niang occupying this spot at some point in the future. Just whether that’s the short- or long-term remains to be seen.
If Remmers is still standing on the sideline when the ones come out on Friday night, it will serve as a vote of confidence for Niang going forward that the team believes he can grow into the role quick enough to play from the very first official week of his NFL career. That would be quite a feat for a first-year player who opted out of the entire 2020 season.
The good news here for the Chiefs is that if Niang is ready, it also means Remmers is ready to man the super-sub role once more, giving them a potential fill-in starter at almost every spot along the line. For a unit that’s already loaded with depth, it’s going to make competition real interesting at more than just right tackle.