Just last season, Khalen Saunders came into his second year with the Chiefs hoping to turn the corner and earn significant minutes as a former third-round pick who had learned with a full season under his belt. Then came an elbow injury which cost him not only several weeks of actual healing and recovery but far more than that in terms of reps lost to competition.
Now it looks like the same might have happened again to Saunders after suffering a knee injury which has kept him out the last few weeks. Saunders was one of the few bright spots defensively for the Chiefs in the first third of the season–along with Mike Danna up front—but Saunders has been sitting due to a knee injury that had him questionable coming into games.
This past week, he was not on the injury report with any official designation, but he was also held out as an inactive player. He practiced all week in full only to then not earn any reps in the team’s win over the Raiders. Is the same thing happening one more time to Saunders?
The Chiefs are loaded up front if every part is working, and Turk Wharton is looking better alongside plenty of veterans who are also playing well in Derrick Nnadi, Jarran Reed, and Chris Jones who slides inside and out. Given that Melvin Ingram has been added to the room of edge rushers to go with Frank Clark, Danna, and Alex Okafor, the Chiefs might have more than they right now.
That said, Saunders is a disruptive force up front with a motor that doesn’t stop and it’s only a matter of time before he gets back out on the field. His presence gives the Chiefs coaches peace of mind knowing the defensive front can withstand a loss or two and still keep rotating in quality players.