The Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium marks the anticipated debut of defensive lineman Charles Omenihu, whom the club signed to a two-year contract in the offseason. Omenihu missed the first six games of Kansas City’s season due to a suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
During his Monday media availability (via Zoom), Andy Reid hinted that Omenihu would be ramped up rather than playing a full game right away — but on Wednesday, he added that the defensive lineman is in good shape and has the advantage of having participated fully in training camp and the preseason.
There is no question that the head coach is looking forward to adding him to his No. 2 defense.
“He’s another one that can play inside and outside, and it gives you flexibility there,” said Reid of Omenihu. “He’s good at both, so again, you could work different combinations with that. But he’s definitely somebody you have to look at. I’m game-planning against him. I’m going to know where he’s at. He’s a good football player.”
General manager Brett Veach explained the team’s vision for Omenihu when he was signed back in April.
“[Omenihu] can play a lot base end on early run downs, but I think the thing that really appealed to us was his inside pass rush ability,” explained Veach. “He’s long, he’s athletic, and again, we just feel like pairing him with Chris Jones inside on third downs is something that will be really beneficial for us.”
Jones — who has 5.5 of the Chiefs’ 17 sacks on the season — is eager to see the five-year veteran among the mix of weapons the team has along the line.
“Should be a lot of fun,” said Jones. “I think you can never have enough pass rushers. I think he’s a guy that brings a lot of versatility to our room — to our team, especially. [I’m] thankful he’s back, ready to [see] him in and utilize his ability — especially on pass-rush downs.”
Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. — who had a suspension of his own last season — shied from detailing specifics on his conversations with Omenihu once the suspension was announced, but he did say he made a point to talk to him. Gay actually returned from a four-game suspension to play Omenihu and the 49ers in his first contest back in mid-October of last season.
Gay was thus able to guide Omenihu before the defensive lineman left the building for a few weeks.
“Just staying ready, man — keeping everything intact mentally and trying not to get too much into the outside world, knowing that sooner or later, I would be back in that action,” recalled Gay. “What was it, Week 6, I think? And yeah, I was rolling after that, and I was happy to be back.”
Like Reid and Jones, Gay believes the Chiefs are adding a key, versatile piece who will only complement what they have been able to accomplish these past six weeks.
“He’s happy, just know that,” Gay said pointedly. “He’s ready.”