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Chiefs need a full game from Tamba Hali against the Patriots

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Kansas City Chiefs LB Tamba Hali broke his thumb a few weeks ago and has had a bad knee for a couple years now. Tamba is an old guy - by NFL standards - at 32 years of age. It's late in the season so you have to wonder if he is slowing down. The reason I wonder this is because of his recent snap counts. Tamba has been a part time player for a couple weeks now.

Tamba's snap counts:

Week 15: 57 / 68 (breaks thumb vs. Ravens)

Week 16: 0 / 0 (has surgery, vs. Browns)

Week 17: 14 / 57

Week 18: 15 / 64

I could see him taking time off in Week 17 because he was coming off thumb surgery and the Chiefs had already clinched a playoff spot. What was really surprising to me was seeing Tamba play a part time role against the Texans. Perhaps the Chiefs would have changed their strategy if they weren't dominating the game but I was really surprised to see how few snaps he played in the most important game in two years. Is this because Tamba is slowing down? Or is this because Dee Ford and Frank Zombo have proven themselves capable replacements? Probably some combination of both but Chiefs coach Andy Reid mentioned his knee specifically.

"Yeah, we'll just see how it goes," Reid said, "how he's feeling and work it from there. He wants to play, that's not the situation. We'll just see how the third down situations go, or if we decide to play him on first or second downs, it all depends on how his knee is rolling there."

Tamba said earlier this year that the rest Andy Reid is giving him during the practice week is a major part of him playing well. Tamba was really good earlier this season where he had 5.5 sacks in five games leading up to Week 12. The pass rush is as important as even against the Patriots, who had trouble with the Chiefs pass rush in last year's game.

Justin Houston is coming back from his own injury. He said he was rusty in last week's game against the Texans so another week and he should be less rusty heading to New England. Houston can't do it alone. He needs his partner on the other side.