It wasn’t until Sunday that the NFL made up its mind that the Chiefs-Patriots game would be played on Monday — but once the teams lined up to play, the Chiefs pulled away late, emerging with a 26-10 victory. One of the game’s heroes was definitely second-year cornerback Rashad Fenton.
We saw Fenton make several plays in the first half — including a pair of tremendous pass breakups and a tackle for loss. He played physically and showed confidence in a newly-expanded role. He battled former first-round pick N’Keal Harry, contesting every play. To start the second half, it was more of the same, as he blanketed Damiere Byrd deep down the field to end the Patriots’ opening drive. Harry did get a touchdown over Fenton, but Fenton came back with an interception to cap off a great night for the Chiefs secondary.
With four games of the season (and his suspension) in the books, the veteran cornerback was allowed to return to the team on Tuesday.
Chiefs defensive backs and cornerbacks coach Sam Madison said he’s followed the 28-year-old cornerback from afar as the beginning of the season rolled along.
“I’ve been following him on his social media, watching him throughout the course of his workouts and doing everything,” said Madison. “He looks physically fit and ready to go. Before he left, he was in really good shape and understanding of the defense because this would be his second year into it so bringing that physicality back. He’s a big corner, he loves to hit, the same as Charvarius Ward. These guys, they love to tackle. He had his best game, his last game of his season that was in the Super Bowl, so hopefully he’ll be able to pick up right where he left off and give coach [Steve Spagnuolo] another weapon to be able to put out there and play man-to-man and be able to limit somebody’s big runs of the teams that we’re about to get ready to play coming up.”
Also on Tuesday, we dug into the snap counts for Monday’s win, which revealed that the Chiefs’ second-round rookie linebacker got more than half of the team’s defensive snaps against the run.
Rookie Willie Gay Jr. got his first start for the Chiefs on Monday. Here’s how all of the linebackers’ snap counts have shaken out over the first quarter of the season.
On the mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, the AP Nerd Squad discussed some nice surprises of the first quarter of the season — one of them a former first-round pick.
Taco Charlton is this year’s Emmanuel Ogbah — a player the Chiefs picked up with little expectation that has been productive. Charlton hasn’t even been active for all four games this season but has made a noticeable impact as a quality pass rusher opposite Frank Clark. Charlton has already produced two sacks in three active games — showing some juice off the edge. If he continues at this rate, he’ll earn a nice payday similar to Ogbah.
Starting on Wednesday, we learned that reports of positive coronavirus tests on the Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans could end up impacting the Chiefs schedule not only for their Week 5 game against the Raiders, but also for the Week 6 game in Buffalo. We tracked all the reports — and then received some clarity on Thursday.
The changes are necessary due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Tennessee Titans organization. Two more Titans players tested positive on Thursday, meaning their Week 5 game against the Bills had to move to Tuesday, October 13.
That made the Bills playing two days later implausible.
The Chiefs-Bills AFC showdown thus moves to Sunday, October 18 — so long as there are no more positive tests in Tennessee. If Tennessee has more positive tests sometime this weekend, the Bills are off for Week 5 and the game reverts back to its originally-scheduled Thursday night.
If all of that seems hard to follow, you’re right: it is. Now imagine that you’re an NFL team trying to prepare for an upcoming game while all of this is going on — as the Chiefs explained on Friday.
“If we play Thursday, we play Thursday,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “If we play Sunday, we play Sunday. Whenever. Whenever that goes, it goes. But right now, we’ve got a big task with the Raiders, so we’re trying to focus in on that.”
This is all a pretty big adjustment for Reid — who is famously addicted to careful planning and repetitive routine in his game preparation — but he has no more control over it than anyone else does. And the last couple of weeks have been quite a wake-up call for everyone in the league.
“You just have to make sure you’re doing the right things and trying to take everybody into accountability,” said Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Friday. “You’re not just doing it for the guys on this team. You’re doing it for the guys league-wide. It’s unfortunate what’s been going on, but hopefully, everybody realizes again how serious this matter is — and how fast this bug can spread.”
After all that, it’s almost comforting for an NFL head coach to talk about something more straightforward — like perhaps how your latest offensive coordinator is fully prepared to be a head coach for another team.
“He grabs the coaches and they come up with these ideas and we roll,” explained Reid. “Then, they let me in on it, so I know what’s going on. One thing Eric is is a phenomenal leader of men. And he makes everyone around him better — and his knowledge of the game is second to none. That’s why I can answer questions and still look in the mirror and feel good about doing it. I know how good he is and what a good football coach he is and a great person.”
Bieniemy has learned to design (and call) plays from the best in the world, and he will bring that — and the lessons he has learned off the field — with him when he does finally get his overdue opportunity.
“I’ve learned a lot coaching under coach Reid,” said Bieniemy. “And it just doesn’t all have to do with football. There’s things — how you handle yourself as a man in this world, as an employee — how you treat people... on top of that, working with him and hand in hand, just some of the things — I can’t reveal all of the secrets, but, just understanding what you’re good at and what are the things that you want to go out and attack when game-planning?
“So it’s making sure that you’re utilizing all your personnel the correct way and giving those guys to go out there and be their best. And on top of that, allowing their personalities to show.”
The Chiefs made a few personnel moves during the week. On Thursday, the team moved running back DeAndre Washington from the practice squad to the active roster, waiving wide receiver Marcus Kemp to do so. And on Friday, we learned that a promising rookie will miss a few games.
Without a status listing, defensive tackle Chris Jones is expected to make his return to the lineup after missing the last game against the Patriots due to a groin injury.
Defensive end Michael Danna will miss the game after not practicing all week due to a hamstring injury. UPDATE: On Saturday, the Chiefs placed Danna on injured reserve, clearing the way for Bashaud Breeland’s return. Danna will miss at least the next three games.
After getting through the week without any new positive coronavirus tests, the Chiefs had one crop up on Saturday.
A Kansas City Chiefs strength and conditioning coach has tested positive for coronavirus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who tweeted this report from his official Twitter account late Saturday morning:
There are no new positives in Tennessee nor New England, but there are now two other positive tests: one for a practice squad player in Chicago, but Bears have been closed since Thursday night, and a strength and conditioning coach in Kansas City, per source. Tracing is ongoing.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 10, 2020
The Chiefs are currently scheduled to play the Las Vegas Raiders at Noon Arrowhead Time on Sunday. It is unclear how this could impact the game, but the expectation at this point is it would go off as scheduled — so long as there are no further positive tests.