The K.C. Chiefs will be without Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu among others on defense when they face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The defense overall is going to take some significant hits, which means some key secondary players and backups will be needed to take a step up in the first game of the 2021 season for the Chiefs to stymie the Cleveland offense. The loss of Clark and Mathieu on both sides means younger players must also emerge as emotional leaders and on-field communicators.
The loss of Mathieu in the secondary is a big one, but it’s not a total shock that he’s inactive given that he’s been out for over a week on the team’s COVID/reserve list. The team removed him yesterday but they were reportedly looking at taking a limited approach. It’s clear the team’s training staff and coaches decided to just let him sit this out entirely in order to get better for the long haul.
That’s likely the same approach when it comes to Clark along the defensive front. The Chiefs have to feel good about their overall depth there and Clark has been dealing with a hamstring earlier in the preseason. It will be interesting to see how much Chris Jones plays outside without Clark on the other side and how effective he looks there.
As for other inactive, it’s interesting to see Deandre Baker also on the list, since he’s a promising young draft pick who could serve a vital role as the season goes on. That’s three performers down for a defense that’s going to be tested by a devastating run game that allows Baker Mayfield to also take deep shots on the play-action.