In 2019, It felt like every offensive starter for the Kansas City Chiefs missed significant time due to injury. From the season-opening game, key players went out — and as soon as they got back, another big player would go down.
By the time the team was gearing up for a postseason run, the offense had just about every Week 1 starter healthy and ready to go. Every one except starting left guard Andrew Wylie, who left the Week 15 game with an ankle injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Veteran guard Stefen Wisniewski replaced Wylie for the championship run, even when Wylie was cleared to return.
“It was hard,” Wylie admitted to reporters during Saturday’s press conference. “But we got an excellent training staff, they got me right. I came back healthy, and I was healthy for [the] playoffs, but the team was rolling, the [offensive] line was really clicking.”
No competitor wants to sit on the bench as his team is playing — but that’s what it takes to be a good teammate at times. Wylie understood the role he had to play for that particular postseason. Now, he’s ready for a bigger role in the quest for a repeat.
“It was great to watch my brothers go out there and win the Super Bowl and have those great playoff wins, but I’m ready to get out there and do it myself this year.”
“My main goal is to play a full season, and to make it all the way through playoffs. We got some really great competition this year on the interior [offensive] line, that also makes it really motivating.”
He will have a fair shot at making such a contribution. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 season, leaving a vacancy at the starting right guard position. While the left guard spot isn’t set in stone either, the public inference is that veteran guard Kelechi Osemele was brought in to play there.
Which side of the center he lines up on is the least of Wylie’s concerns.
“I’ll go wherever (offensive line) coach [Andy] Heck puts me, wherever he feels I play the best at is where I’m going to play. So ultimately, it’s up to him. I’m comfortable at both and I got some starts under my belt at both.”
When Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was asked about the guard competition on Saturday, he went into what he and the staff like about Wylie.
“Wylie played a lot of productive snaps for us over the years.” Bieniemy emphasized. “He had a setback last year but things happen. The thing that we love about Wylie is that he has never stopped competing. He’s constantly competing. He’s back in the lineup, now it’s about making sure he can sustain a high level of play throughout the course of training camp into the season.”
The offensive coordinator expressing that a player is “back in the lineup” could be interpreted different ways. He likely meant that he is simply back from injury — but it shouldn’t be a big shock if Wylie is looked at as an incumbent starter.
The 25-year-old lineman has been around a few years now.
“This is year four for me, year three in this offense, so I know it very well.” Wylie proclaimed. “I’m able to move fast, do my job. It falls on the interior [offensive] line to set the depth of the pocket while the tackle sets the width. I know what [quarterback Patrick Mahomes] wants, the looks he wants, he’ll send us in the right direction and we’ll get it done.”
Some argue that the best Wylie has looked in a Chiefs uniform was when he filled in at right guard for Duvernay-Tardif in 2018. After mostly played at left guard in 2019, Wylie has a chance to flip back to the other side and prove himself.
With restricted free agency coming after 2020, Wylie has both an earned Super Bowl ring and a contract to play for — making him one of the most motivated players at Chiefs training camp.