The Kansas City Chiefs began their Week 4 preparation on Wednesday with a lengthy injury report — and also placed backup offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho on injured reserve after he tore a quadriceps muscle — an injury that could very well end his season.
The fourth-year tackle had started 2023 as the team’s swing tackle — and had gained some popularity among fans after filling in for right tackle Jawaan Taylor during his recent penalty struggles.
In his media availability on Wednesday, head coach Andy Reid would not commit to a definitive timeline for Wanogho’s return saying only, “We’ll just see how it goes.”
Although it’s early in the season, Wanogho faces an uphill battle to have an opportunity to return in 2023.
Analyzing a quadriceps tendon tear
The term quadriceps refers to a group of four muscles on the front of the thigh that serve as the extensor mechanism for the knee. They also assist with hip flexion and stabilizing the knee, since they control tracking for the patella (kneecap).
Quadriceps tears are relatively rare. They are classified as either partial or complete ruptures. A partial tear involves fraying of the muscle tendon, while a complete rupture results in the inability to extend or straighten the knee.
Quadriceps tears can happen when a player plants a foot on the ground while landing with a bent knee. This results in a quick (and high-load) eccentric muscle contraction — meaning the muscle is in a lengthened state when it contracts. Tears can also occur from a direct, high-pressure fall onto the knee.
A partial tear can be managed through immobilization in a brace for several weeks. This is followed by rehab to regain range of motion for the knee, along with strength, stability, balance and motor control of the quadriceps.
A complete rupture requires surgical intervention to repair the quadriceps tendon and reattach it to the patella. A period of knee immobilization follows surgery.
The severity of Wanagho’s quadriceps tear has not been disclosed. If it is a partial tear, three months would likely be the minimum amount of time he would need for a return to practice. A complete rupture of the quadriceps tendon would obviously be a much longer recovery.
Impact on Week 4 and beyond
In the early portion of the season, the Chiefs remain optimistic about the performance of the offensive line. Despite his penalty struggles, that optimism includes Taylor. But to undergo the rigors of an NFL season, depth is essential — especially in this position group.
For the forseeable future, the team will now have to depend upon third-year player Lucas Niang or rookie Wanya Morris as the swing tackle. Both have been inactive for all three of this season’s games.