While the Kansas City Chiefs’ trade for wide receiver Mecole Hardman is making lots of headlines about the team’s offense, the defense is making an exciting addition of its own this week: defensive end Charles Omenihu.
The former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman was signed as a free agent during the offseason — and at the time, there was hope was he could be the best pass rusher the team had ever had to play alongside Chris Jones. But in August, Omenihu was suspended for six games as a result of violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. That came to an end after the Chiefs’ 19-8 victory over the Denver Broncos a week ago Thursday.
God did…Kept trusting. My faith hasn’t been any stronger. 90 is back pic.twitter.com/JEG1OgiT3L— Charles Omenihu (@charless_94) October 13, 2023
“He was waiting for me Friday morning,” defensive line coach Joe Cullen revealed to reporters on Thursday. “He’s excited — [and] we’re excited. Charles has worked hard — and we’re glad to have him back. He’s a really good football player.”
“He’s fired up,” said defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “He’s got so much energy, he’s ready to burst out there. He was great. We’ve got to amp him up the right way. But we’ve talked about that — Joe, Charles and I. He looks great — [and] he’s chomping at the bit, as you can imagine.”
But how much impact will Omenihu have in his first game with the team? He was a full participant in the offseason program, training camp and preseason games — but hasn’t played since then. That’s somewhat different than his teammate Chris Jones, who missed all of that — and got his first game snaps against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2.
“We’re still working through that,” said Cullen of Omenihu’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. “He’s in good shape. But you know you have to be in football shape, too. It was the same thing with Chris when he came back.”
Omenihu’s help will be needed. Against the Broncos, Jones and defensive end Mike Danna both played at least 88% of the defensive line snaps. If Omenihu can step in, both will be fresher.
The Chiefs have several guys who are playing lots of snaps. Last 3 games snap%— Price Carter (@ArrowheadPrice) October 19, 2023
There's room for Omenihu and FAU to play more and to potentially add Frank Clark. Guys are better when they are fresh..
Still, the Chiefs’ pass rush has been playing so well that Spagnuolo described finding Omenihu’s role as a “good problem to have.”
“The guys that have been here the last six weeks have certainly earned their time to continue,” he said. “We look at it as an addition. So hopefully the whole [defensive line] goes upward.”
And on Sunday, corralling the Chargers’ talented quarterback Justin Herbert will be a tough test. The Los Angeles offensive line has allowed the league’s sixth-lowest sack rate (5.2%) — and Herbert has the arm strength to throw from any platform. But in the last two games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, those teams were able to apply enough pressure for Herbert to turn in his two worst performances of the season.