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Under The Radar: Since his return, Charles Omenihu has been a dominant player

The former San Francisco defender has improved what was already an excellent Kansas City defensive unit.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In their decisive 31-17 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs showcased a resurgence — particularly in the last three quarters of Sunday’s game against their divisional rivals — marking one of their most complete performances of the season.

Throughout the season, the Kansas City defense has consistently demonstrated its prowess. Following his return from an NFL suspension. defensive end Charles Omenihu has been a notable contributor to the unit’s success, further enhancing a defense that was already thriving.

During the NFL’s legal tampering period, the Chiefs secured Omenihu’s services with a two-year, $20-million contract, following a stellar 2022 season in which he notched an impressive 54 pressures, five sacks and 16 quarterback hits for the San Francisco 49ers.

Omenihu’s debut, however, was delayed until Week 7 due to a 6-game suspension stemming from an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence in January. Since his return, Omenihu has played a crucial role in maintaining the Chiefs’ defensive excellence. With 11 pressures, two sacks two quarterback hits in his first five games back, his ability to rush the passer — especially from the interior — has proven invaluable. Moreover, Omenihu’s adeptness in setting the edge against the run (and his solid play recognition in the base defense) have added to his impact.

While he didn’t collect a sack during the recent clash in Las Vegas, his presence was undeniable. He registered three quarterback pressures and two tackles over just 39 snaps, earning a 75.4 grade from Pro Football Focus — his highest grade of the season. Sunday’s performance underscored the depth and impact he brings to Kansas City’s defense.

The bottom line

Before Omenihu’s return, coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense had already demonstrated that it is an elite unit in 2023 — but his presence has undeniably elevated the team’s performance. Omenihu’s flexibility — which allows him to move inside on crucial third downs — permits the Chiefs to maximize the versatility of All-Pro defensive lineman Chris Jones. Currently ranked fourth in total defense and fourth in team sacks with 37, the unit — with Omenihu’s contribution — is continuing to play at a very high level as the team strives to once again secure the AFC’s top seed.

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