Mike Remmers had been waiting for this moment.
Before the season began for the K.C. Chiefs, no one was quite sure how the competition at right tackle would shake out between holdover rookie Lucas Niang or Remmers, the incumbent veteran. Neither one was likely the plan a year ago given Mitchell Schwartz‘s continued presence at the position for the previous five years, but questions around his back injury cost him a roster spot as the Chiefs reset the entire offensive line.
The Chiefs replaced Eric Fisher with Orlando Brown Jr. and Austin Reiter with Creed Humphrey. They sat Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in favor of rookie Trey Smith and made a major investment in Joe Thuney to be the new anchor at left guard. Just like that, there was a new line that required time together to build communication and chemistry. The question was who would line up on the right side.
Mike Remmers was very glad to be back in the Chiefs starting lineup.
Coming into this year, however, the team had Niang returning from opting out the season due to COVID-19 after being drafted in the third round in 2020. They then invited back Remmers on another one-year deal knowing he could provide security and a solid floor outside no matter how things worked out. Unfortunately for Remmers, some preseason injuries didn’t allow him to gel with the new line.
Niang has been the starter since Week 1 for the Chiefs, giving them three rookies from center through right tackle for the first third of a season, but Niang’s learning curve has been the toughest given his position outside against outstanding pass rushers. Being away for a year certainly hasn’t helped either. Given a minor injury coming into this past week, Remmers was given the green light to take over.
“It felt great getting back out there,” said Remmers to reporters on Wednesday. “I love playing. Going into year 10, it brings me a lot of joy to be out on the field with my teammates and everything like that. I was just banged up during training camp, and they got a great staff here that got me ready. I’ve been practicing on the scout team and stuff like that, just trying to stay ready for the opportunity and happy to be back out there.”
Remmers said he was told the Wednesday before the game that he would be the starter outside. ” I knew I had to go out and have a great practice. If I didn’t practice well, I’m not going to be confident and going out there to do my job,” he said.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said that Remmers’ experience and leadership made him a nice addition on the right side last week, and he specifically praised the way Remmers “battles” up front.
“You see he battles, that’s the biggest thing,” said Mahomes. “He’s played a lot of different spots for us but for other teams as well and been in a lot of big games. He knows what it takes. He knows how to get in there and battle, to help bring those young guys along as well and be kind of a leader on that side of the line for us. It’s definitely a guy I’m glad we have on our team. We have that depth that he can just step right in and play really good football.”
If Remmers continues in the starting role, he knows that Niang not only has his back in the interim but that Niang will be a solid player for the Chiefs for a long time. When asked what words he has for Niang in this shifting role, he had nothing but praise for the way the Chiefs rookie has played so far.
“It’s incredibly difficult to play in the league, especially as a rookie. That’s not an easy task and he’s been doing great. He’s improved a lot through the season and I’ve seen it. His technique has gotten a lot better and he;’s a fighter for sure. I know he’s always there supporting me and I’m supporting him. We bounce ideas and thoughts on the opponent each week. He’s a great teammate.”