The Kansas City Chiefs are coming out of the bye week as healthy as they’ve been at some positions all season. Early season injuries at linebacker have passed and the unit is now at full strength. Pass rusher is as rested and ready as ever in 2021. A banged-up secondary has been able to heal up with an extra week away instead of playing through games while remaining limited in practice.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the Chiefs aren’t without key injuries to worry about. Right tackle has been the biggest question mark since midseason and it remains that way even coming into December. The secondary is also not entirely out of the woods despite the fact that Tyrann Mathieu and L’Jarius Sneed should feel much better on Sunday than they have in recent weeks.
As the Chiefs prepare to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at Arrowhead, there are a few key injuries to watch this week. Here’s a look at the biggest worries or areas of confusion at this stage for the Chiefs before Week 13.
Lucas Niang was trending in a positive direction just 24 hours ago with his return to practice on Wednesday for the Chiefs. While he was limited in his participation, the sight of Niang back at practice was a welcome sight given that he’d missed the previous two games with a rib injury that first removed him from the Chiefs’ win over the visiting Green Bay Packers back in Week 9.
Unfortunately, Niang was forced to sit out Thursday’s practice entirely which likely means he ran into a hiccup in his progress back and the team has decided to take it easy. That trajectory would also lead us to guess that Niang won’t be ready—although this is a situation to watch going forward.
The timing of Niang’s injury has not been good since Kyle Long was not yet ready to be activated from the Physically Unable to Play list until this week. Mike Remmers is on injured reserve as well, which means any of the built-in backup options were rendered ineffective before Niang was ever injured himself.
In Niang’s place, the Chiefs would likely roll with Andrew Wylie again for another week after leaning on him for the last two starts before the bye.
Just earlier today, we posted a story on the incredible success had by Fenton this year, a breakout season that should have everyone in league circles aware of his talent. He’s one of the highest-graded defenders in all of 2021 per Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately, a knee injury is still hanging around from the team’s most recent game against the Dallas Cowboys.s
You might remember watching Fenton crawling off the field in pain after going down on a hit on which he appeared to injure (hyperextend?) his knee in an unnatural way. He was scheduled for an MRI on the Monday morning after the game and a source told FanSided’s Matt Verderame that the expectation was that Fenton would be “fine.” Now it appears as if Fenton is not quite as fine as originally believed.
The Chiefs haven’t stated any official injury designation here, so anyone on the outside of Arrowhead is grasping a bit here. Still, it’s worth noting given how good Fenton has looked this season.
At this point, Kyle Long is listed as a full participant in practice and there’s no physical reason to believe that would not be able to play. But this is not a normal situation with a player who just missed a few weeks and is now back at practice. Long missed the entire 2020 season due to retirement and he’s missed the first 12 weeks of this season due to injury. If he’s back, the Chiefs cannot be sure what they even have until they seem in a game. We mention his name here because Long is going to be a key figure to watch late this week for what the coaching staff says about his leg injury.