We were excited last week because the Kansas City Chiefs were getting back Donald Stephenson, who was arguably the best offensive lineman when he was suspended four games to start the season. But then Sunday game and Stephenson never played.
The Chiefs offensive line, which has been doing better than I thought, had Ryan Harris and not Stephenson at right tackle on Sunday in San Francisco. Continuity is a thing coaches talk about all the time so it sounds like that was part of the reason Harris, who started in Stephenson's absence, got the nod.
"We had [Donald] available to us as a swing tackle last week," Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck said on Tuesday, via quotes from the Chiefs. "It's good to have Donald back in the mix. He's a good football player. He's part of our group. And the way we approach it in the O-Line is ‘all hands on deck.' We're going to need everybody before it's all said and done. So right now Ryan [Harris] is doing a nice job in there and we have some good continuity going in there on the offensive line. Getting Donald back in the mix, we'll just see how it goes."
All hands on deck is right. Stephenson started seven games as the Chiefs swing tackle last year and guard Jeff Allen was a starting tackle so this year so the Chiefs aren't kidding when they say the best five will play.
Right now though, if the staff is happy with Harris, the Chiefs are doing better than I thought they would be at tackle because I was worried about that position during training camp. I suspect Stephenson will get his spot back when the Chiefs offensive line has a bad game and the staff can't fall back on the importance of continuity. Or with the Chiefs bye week coming, the staff just wanted to give him a few extra weeks to get back in football shape. Either way, a line like the Chiefs can't leave a player like Stephenson on the bench for too long.