Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Chris Lammons left Sunday’s 22-9 win over the Denver Broncos after suffering an ankle injury on the opening kickoff. The injury was later called a high ankle sprain — meaning that Lammons is likely to miss multiple games.
Though Lammons has only played 13 snaps on defense this season — all at the end of the Week 10 blowout win against this week’s opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders — he is an unquestioned leader and iron man on special teams. Lammons had played over 70% of special teams snaps in 10 straight games before exiting early on Sunday night.
“He’s a four-phase starter,” said Chiefs assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Dave Toub of losing Lammons. “Obviously, he’s our starting gunner and plays in a lot of important spots for us, so we’ll have to look and see who we have on the roster number one — and then maybe pull somebody up from the practice squad, possibly.”
Toub identified current Chiefs practice squad cornerbacks Josh Jackson and Dicaprio Bootle as options to replace Lammons.
“He (Jackson) is definitely one of the guys that we’re looking at,” Toub confirmed, “But we’ll see as we go. He’s definitely a possibility — Bootle’s a possibility. It’s going to be a corner spot if you think about it that way. You could go safety, but we’ll see.”
Bootle will be familiar to Chiefs fans from the preseason. The former Nebraska Cornhusker signed with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent. His preseason usage implied he was being seriously considered for the 53 man roster, but he was waived at the final roster cutdown and then signed to the practice squad. He was active for the Week 4 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, recording a solo tackle in seven special teams snaps.
After making ten starts for the Packers as a rookie, he fell out of favor and saw his role on defense diminish over the next two seasons. The former Iowa Hawkeye played 59% of special teams snaps in 2019 — likely a factor as the Chiefs consider him a replacement for Lammons.
The Packers traded Jackson to the New York Giants before the 2021 season, though he never dressed for a game with his second team. The Chiefs then signed Jackson to the practice squad after he was waived in October — where he joined Mike Hughes and Deandre Baker as members of the cornerbacks room who entered the league as top 50 picks with other teams.
After the injury to Lammons, the Chiefs used a practice squad protection for Jackson this week — preventing him from signing with another team. Toub discussed reasons to think that Jackson is a legitimate option for game day if needed.
“We’ve been seeing him in practice,” Toub noted, “And he’s really good in meetings. That’s the first thing we see. He’s up on what we’re doing. At practice, you see him on the scout team and he’s showing up. You see his effort is there. He’s got a big body — he’s able to run with guys. He’s a guy you want to possibly take a look at.”
Toub sees the practice squad and special teams as an opportunity for players like Jackson to re-establish themselves after being cut.
“I think the number one thing is when you get cut, it kind of changes your mentality,” he explained. “You get cut, you say ‘Why did I get cut? Well, maybe I didn’t play hard enough on special teams there. I’m going to do that here.’ So they might have that attitiude. Or ‘I need to step it up in other areas. I’m not going to get cut again.’ Guys will have that mentality.
“You want to tap into that as a coach — if a guy’s in that mode. That’s where we’re at with him.”