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Steve Spagnuolo, Travis Kelce become latest to weigh in on Chris Jones

Spagnuolo says the defense will need to rely on a deep rotation against the Lions; Kelce believes in the defensive leadership in the building.

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Parade Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Another day and practice without Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones came and went on Monday, as the team as a whole eyes the Thursday night NFL season-opener against the Detroit Lions.

New information on the contract situation emerged as the weekend began, but at this point, it seems as though reality has set in for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit. The defense now knows with near certainty that the All-Pro defensive tackle will not be in the lineup for the first game.

“This is what we really firmly believe: if we play as a unit — I mean, 60, 65, 70 plays as a unit — not guys trying to do their own thing,” began Spagnuolo, “if guys do what they’re capable of doing, we can play good defense. We all believe that — and then hopefully, there’s a couple of exceptional plays in there for us and not the other way around. And then I think we’ll play good enough defense to win, but we’ll find out.

“I got a lot of confidence. I love working with them, and these guys got a lot of confidence. We want to just go out — the game can’t get here soon enough. You guys could almost feel how long it’s taken, right, since the last preseason game? We feel like you guys do.”

With no Jones, it is fair to expect that Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Joe Cullen will be rotating quite a bit, likely beginning with starters George Karlaftis, Derrick Nnadi, Turk Wharton and Mike Danna and then making sure Malik Herring, Keandre Coburn and Felix Anudike-Uzomah are in the mix.

“Rotation’s the great word because we’ll use them all,” said Spagnuolo. “We’re going to get guys in there and mix and match. Listen, this group that we have — I’m not just talking about the D-line — but it’s a great group to work with. They work. These guys work, and they’re into it. And we’ve got a bunch of guys that are cerebral. Nick [Bolton] and Drue [Tranquil], and the whole crew... guys on the back end. Hopefully, we can play really good as a unit, and our best players will play really good, and all our other guys will play really solid.

“I think this [Lions] team can force you into making mistakes if you’re undisciplined, especially with your eyes. And if you don’t do that, it gives us a fighting chance. With the things they do do on offense, if you go wandering, or you’re biting on something that’s not there, they make you pay for it.”

Playing to the audience on his “New Heights” podcast this week, tight end Travis Kelce begged Jones to “come home,” going as far as to say that he did not “get it” in jest.

“I was more so just trying to have some fun talking about the situation, trying to bring light to it, trying to be funny,” said Kelce. “At the end of the day, Chris has his situation, he has his reasons. It ain’t none of my business. I’m trying to win football games. Hopefully, we can get him back as soon as possible because I know how great of a player he really is.”

Kelce revealed that he last spoke to Jones when they collaborated on a DirecTV commercial this offseason. As expected, the tight end did not want to say much regarding Jones’ contract situation but did compliment the defensive leadership currently in the building.

“I think we have plenty of leaders across the board right now,” said Kelce. “Defensively, Bolton, [Justin] Reid, even Willie [Gay Jr.] — you name it. Those guys are coming to work every day busting their tail. And doing things with the right demeanor, rallying the group and making sure everybody’s on the same page.

“That’s what you get when you come into this building, man. You get guys that rise to the occasion and want to be that for their teammates.”

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