KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs bring a three-game winning streak into Sunday’s matchup against struggling Jacksonville, a seemingly classic trap game, but the Chiefs have plenty of reasons to be wary hosting the Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium.
First and foremost, the Chiefs, 5-2, tackle the Jaguars, 2-5, without three offensive starters, including quarterback Alex Smith, who sustained head trauma during last week’s 30-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts. He joins running back Spencer Ware and offensive lineman Parker Ehinger on the sidelines.
Ware suffered a concussion last week, and has yet to complete the NFL’s mandated concussion protocol. Ehinger torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and will miss the rest of the season.
That means backup quarterback Nick Foles takes the reins against the Jaguars, with Charcandrick West serving as the team’s featured running back. Veteran Zach Fulton expects to start at left guard in place of Ehinger.
Coach Andy Reid said Foles looks ready to roll after a solid week of preparation.
“He did a nice job,” Reid said about Foles in practice the past week. “He handled himself well and didn’t have to change anything. It was good.”
With Ware out and Jamaal Charles placed on injured reserve, the Chiefs scrambled to rebuild their running back stable. The team signed Bishop Sankey from the practice squad of the New England Patriots earlier this week, then re-signed Knile Davis, whom the team traded to Green Bay last month.
West appeared ready and eager to run the ball in his first start of the season.
“I practice like I play everyday,” West said. “If I’m not going to play, I’m going to play. It’s football.”
The Jaguars have their own share of drama this week. The team fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson following their 36-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans. In his place Jacksonville promoted quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Coach Gus Bradley hopes the relationship between Hackett and quarterback Blake Bortles can breath new life into a stagnant Jaguars offensive that ranks 26th in the league with just 330.6 yards per game and 23rd in scoring with 19.9 points per game.
“He’s got a great relationship with Nathaniel Hackett,” Bradley said. “Not that he didn’t with Gregg Olson, but I think these two guys really relate to one another and I think that helps with the vision going forward, that they see things the same way and it just make it easier as far as the transition.”
With the Jaguars offense in turmoil, the Chiefs must avoid a defensive let down. Linebacker Derrick Johnson said the team continues working to peak at the right time of the year.
“I’ve been in this league long enough to know it’s not how you start,” Johnson said, “it’s how you finish and how you come in and out of games later in the season, November and December.”
CHIEFS RE-SIGN KNILE DAVIS
The whirlwind saga of Davis took another turn Saturday when the team re-signed Davis to bolster their suddenly depleted backfield depth.
The team sent Davis to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a conditional draft pick Oct. 18. The Packers released the veteran back this week, and the New York Jets claimed him on waivers. The Jets made about an about-turn two days later, with Davis landing back on waivers again.
The team also promoted defensive lineman David King from the practice squad Saturday. King adds depth and flexibility at defensive line with Jaye Howard listed questionable for the Jaguars game.
The team waived offensive lineman Jordan Devey and placed Ehinger on injured reserve to clear roster space for Davis and King.