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Chiefs put Juan Thornhill on IR, promote practice squad guard

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The Chiefs have put their the rookie safety on injured reserve, elevating practice squad guard Ryan Hunter to the active roster.

Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions - NFL Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Tuesday morning, the Kansas City Chiefs made a move we’ve been expecting since last week: placing rookie safety Juan Thornhill on injured reserve. What we didn’t know was what they would do with Thornhill’s roster spot.

Thanks to an announcement on the team’s official Twitter account, now we know.

Thornhill suffered a torn ACL in the team’s 31-21 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in the season finale; there was never much doubt about whether he was done for the season.

Since the Chiefs didn’t make an immediate move to sign a free-agent defensive back to replace Thornhill, we were fairly confident they would be filling his roster spot with a practice squad player; if the Chiefs brought in a free agent, they would have wanted to have as much time as possible to get him up to speed on the Chiefs’ playbook.

Still, the elevation of a practice squad offensive lineman Ryan Hunter to take a roster spot previously occupied by a player with a key role in the defensive secondary comes as a bit of a surprise.

The move suggests that even without Thornhill, the Chiefs feel confident they can continue to make the secondary effective with players already on the roster; cornerback Kendall Fuller’s use as a hybrid safety in recent weeks — and cornerback Morris Claiborne’s continued recovery through the unexpected bye week — may have played a role in their calculation.

And while left guard Andrew Wylie is participating in this week’s practices, we don’t know the extent of his participation; we won’t see an official injury report until Wednesday afternoon. He was inactive against the Chargers and might not yet be ready to play this weekend. Having Hunter on the active roster gives the Chiefs a little breathing space as they decide whether Wylie can play in Sunday’s Divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans.