Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones is expected to make his highly-anticipated 2023 debut on Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones missed all of the Chiefs' offseason work and the team's Week 1 loss to the Detroit Lions because of a contract holdout.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said that Jones looked good in his first practice back, giving him optimism that he will indeed play against Jacksonville. Jones playfully said he didn't know if he was in football shape in his turn at the podium on Wednesday.
"We'll get through [Thursday] and [Friday] and see where he is," said Spagnuolo. "I'll be curious to talk with him and see how he feels. Conditioning, that's the biggest thing, right? [It's] the conditioning. The one thing we don't want to do — want to protect against as best as we can — is to not put him in a situation where we get him hurt. We certainly don't want that. And we all know: look, he hasn't had a lot of work up until this point. We'll get him as much as we can and then try to be smart on gameday."
Spagnuolo — who added Jones appears to be in good shape — told a story from his 20-plus-year NFL career to explain why he would not put an exact snap limit on the first-team All-Pro.
"We had a linebacker that didn't play very much," remembered Spagnuolo, not recalling when or where he was. "It was like, 'Hey. We're going to keep you at 25 [or 30]. I think he played 60 plays... I can't remember why. I don't know. It wasn't so much that as the way the game went or maybe somebody got hurt. Maybe the backup got hurt or something. I'm not going to slap a number on it."
As well as the Chiefs' defense played well while shorthanded on Thursday night against the Lions, there is no denying the impact Jones has on what Spagnuolo can do.
Steve Spagnuolo explains Chris Jones' impact by discussing success without him.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) September 14, 2023
Play in the clip: It took all 11... good double from Trent McDuffie/S Mike Edwards on Amon-Ra St. Brown and Mike Danna rushing well inside to produce a sack.
Jones makes life easier for all. pic.twitter.com/WkUS7haR1f
The Chiefs allowed just 14 points by relying on the effort of all 11 contributors. The defensive coordinator explained what he meant by bringing up defensive end Mike Danna's sack of quarterback Jared Goff.
"We had to do a little bit about that last week," started Spagnuolo. "We had to find other ways to generate some pressure. I thought Mike Danna did a nice job inside on that one play. The coverage was really good. We had a double on their star receiver... Everything executed the way it was supposed to — all 11 guys — and we ended up getting a positive play. Chris will get right in the fold with the things that we're doing.
"There will be some things in there, obviously, that we have always had in for Chris that we wouldn't have had in."