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Chiefs send Khalen Saunders to IR, call up replacement from practice squad

With Saunders out for the next month, the Chiefs elected to replace him on the roster with Braxton Hoyett.

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have placed defensive tackle Khalen Saunders on injured reserve, the team announced via their official Twitter account on Saturday.

Saunders dislocated his elbow in the Chiefs’ first game of the 2020 season — a 34-20 win over the Houston Texans last Thursday night. In a corresponding move, the Chiefs activated defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett to the 53-man roster from their practice squad.

The Chiefs protected Hoyett on Tuesday, preventing other teams in the league from signing him to their rosters. Hoyett had been the first and only player the Chiefs opted to protect under the league’s 2020 practice squad rules.

Hoyett, 24, is listed at 6 feet 2 and 302 pounds. He first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent for the Tennessee Titans in 2019, but he was cut by the Titans at the end of training camp. Hoyett spent time on the Chiefs’ practice squad last season, and they signed him to a reserve/futures contract after the Super Bowl. The Chiefs initially cut Hoyett to get down to 80 players this offseason, but he was brought back into the fold a few weeks later.

Chiefs defensive line coach Brendan Daly spoke highly of the Chiefs’ depth along the defensive line this week.

“I expect those guys if and when called upon, whoever that may be, Tim Ward as an example, Braxton as an example, Demone Harris, Taco Charlton — guys that didn’t necessarily play in the game a week ago, that’s a very fluid situation week in and week out, and that’s my expectation for each and every one of those guys that they’re going to prepare and be ready to go in if they’re called upon, that they’re going to go out and perform at a high level for us and I’ve got confidence in every one of those guys. And I feel good about the depth that we’ve got, I think that’s a great credit to our personnel department and the people that they’ve brought in.”

Now that Saunders is on the injured reserve list, he is out for the next three weeks. This was already expected after the report from NFL Network earlier this week. It is also worth noting that Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers marks the final game of Mike Pennel’s suspension.