The Kansas City Chiefs deserve a ton of credit for pulling off a major win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. They held position in a very tough AFC playoff race, but now they must respond to the damage incurred if they're to be successful moving forward.
While the Chiefs have significant injuries all over the roster, the offensive line in particular is perilously thin down the home stretch of the regular season. The Chiefs will be (and should be) favored in each of their remaining games, but John Dorsey will need to repair the ship even as they set sail toward the playoffs.
Eric Fisher, the starting left tackle, went down before halftime with what Andy Reid termed a neck sprain. A timetable has yet to be determined for his return.
Center Mitch Morse suffered a concussion, and he will have to go through all proper safety protocols before he can be cleared.
Left guard Jeff Allen returned to the game despite an ankle sprain that took him out, and it will certainly be a situation to watch as the Chiefs prepare for Week 13.
That's 60 percent of the line that could miss more time, and Allen is only starting at left guard because Ben Grubbs hasn't played since Week 7.
If Allen can go against the Oakland Raiders in Week 13 but Fisher and Morse can't, then that means the front line likely looks like this:
- Left Tackle - Donald Stephenson
- Left Guard - Jeff Allen
- Center - Zach Fulton
- Right Guard - Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
- Right Tackle - Jah Reid
If this is the Chiefs starting line-up, then it also means there are zero back-ups on the current roster.
First of all, the Chiefs clearly need some warm bodies to at least fill in as needed. Mitch Morse is the lightest lineman on the Chiefs' offensive front at 305 pounds. Perhaps a beefy TE like Brian Parker can help or a defensive lineman, as Reid mentioned in post-game comments, but the Raiders have a talented front seven. John Dorsey will definitely make a move and likely more than one.
The obvious help can first be found from the team's own practice squad. Jarrod Pughsley is 6'4, 310 pounds with experience starting games at both tackle and guard from Akron. He was also a good candidate to make the roster out of training camp this year, before he was cut. Elevating Pughsley from the practice squad could be Dorsey's first course of action.
The Chiefs do have two other offensive linemen on the practice squad, but both are greener than Pughsley. Laurence Gibson, 6'6, 315 pounds, was the Dallas Cowboys seventh round selection and had approximately 20 starts of experience at both left and right tackle for Virginia Tech. Michael Liedtke is the rawest prospect of all as a small school prospect from Illinois State.
Dorsey could also turn to the free agent market, and you should expect the Chiefs to tryout potential help on Tuesday. Some familiar faces from the last several months that are still available include Tavon Rooks, Curtis Feigt, Charles Sweeton and Derek Sherrod. All were signed by the Chiefs at some point this past offseason. Dorsey could also sign a player from another team's practice squad (e.g. OT Jeremy Vujnovich of the Packers). And, of course, there are general free agents to contact.
It is also possible that some of these guys get healthier than expected. Maybe Eric Fisher's next sprain isn't that bad. Maybe Mitch Morse can get cleared pretty quickly. Maybe it's time for Grubbs to return to the active roster. Any of these outcomes represent the most hoped for scenarios.