Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu was on the field for pregame warmups before the team’s Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns — a game the Chiefs managed to win 33-29. Considering Mathieu was activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, it was presumably his second day back with the club after spending 10 days away from the team.
Despite Mathieu appearing to be capable of playing in the brief warmup, head coach Andy Reid decided to hold him out. Reid also held out Frank Clark, who seemed to be testing his hamstring before the game.
In the post-game press conference, Reid explained his thought process.
“I held [Mathieu] out — that was completely me doing that,” said Reid. “He wanted to play. Both these guys wanted to play, but I just thought it was the right thing to do. I don’t want to take any steps back, and the Badger’s been out for two weeks, and it was just best that we went this route.”
Without Mathieu and Clark, the Chiefs' defense struggled through the first half before finally finding a way to force a turnover in the third quarter. It surrendered a fourth-quarter touchdown before shutting the Browns down in their final three possessions.
“I think guys just stepped up,” noted quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “We were without Tyrann, we were without Frank, who are obviously great football players, but they’re great leaders on that defense. A lot of young guys had to step in and play — and guys like Chris (Jones) stepped up and made those huge sacks.”
In the third quarter, Jones’ second sack of the day set the stage for the key bobbled punt three plays later. Jones discussed having to step up without Mathieu and Clark after the game.
“It was a big challenge, especially having two of our leaders down,” he admitted. “Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu is the vocal leaders of this team, and having that presence, especially on the field in games like this — teams we’ll probably meet in the playoffs — is very important, so hopefully I’m able to have my guys back this week.”
Reid also noted that linebacker Anthony Hitchens “tweaked” his elbow, but he remained in the game.