The Kansas City Chiefs' defense continued its strong season by making plenty of plays against the Los Angeles Chargers, aiding in a 31-17 win. The scary part for the rest of the league is that the player who missed the season's first six games due to suspension made the most significant impact of anyone.
Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu made his Chiefs debut in Week 7, racking up one sack, two quarterback hits, another tackle, and a pass defended. He was one of five Chiefs to bring down Chargers' quarterback Justin Herbert, but he was the only one to hit him multiple times.
It was the fifth-year defender's first live action in nearly two months — his last was the August 26 exhibition against the Cleveland Browns. He had only missed six games in his entire career leading into this season; Omenihu was chomping at the bit away from the team.
"Seeing those boys go out there and eat, I wanted to be a part of it," Omenihu told reporters in his post-game press conference. "Especially coming in and trying to be a piece to a puzzle that's already been put together, it was eating at me."
The veteran complimented defensive lineman Mike Danna for his strong year and noted George Karlaftis and Chris Jones as well. He mentioned Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Tershawn Wharton, Malik Herring all working and how it influenced him to add to it.
"They trusted me and brought me in to add more to the fire that's already here," Omenihu reflected. "So going out there and being productive is the name of the game."
He indeed produced, leading the unit to its highest sack total in a single game this season. The five were highlighted by Omenihu's second-down sack that eventually led to a punt late in the second quarter with the score tied.
Omenihu lined up outside the right tackle, with Chris Jones to his inside. Jones bullrushed the guard's outside shoulder hard enough to force Herbert into stepping up — right where Omenihu had his sights set.
"I felt Chris getting up the field, and I wrapped him up," Omenihu remembered. "The first quarterback hit, I could feel I was close. I felt like it was going to be one of those types of games where I'm going to get active."
"Getting the sack is probably the happiest moment of my career personally, doing it with a new team, in a home game, a big game."
The 26-year-old's happiness is a welcoming sight, considering how negative a suspension like his can be for a professional athlete's mental health. Fortunately for Omenihu, some of his new teammates have gone through similar situations with positive outcomes.
"A lot of those guys really knew the intricacies of what I was going through mentally," Omenihu revealed. "(Linebacker) Willie [Gay] obviously had a situation where he had a same kind of deal, so he was talking to me all week, keeping me encouraged... those guys embracing me was a big thing for me."
Omenihu is having a DAY— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) October 22, 2023
In the third quarter of his debut, Omenihu made another big play — batting a pass at the line of scrimmage, leading to an interception by cornerback L'Jarius Sneed.
Omenihu rushed from an inside alignment that time, getting his hands up once he couldn't reach the passer. As he did that, Jones worked the right tackle beside him.
Having two enormous bodies engulfing one side of an offense's pass protection is quite the trump card for the Chiefs — and Omenihu knows it.
"Playing with a guy that is going to be a Hall of Famer one day, trying to work off of him, that's an advantage for me," Omenihu smiled. "It's going to be good."