Chiefs’ Alex Smith has lacerated spleen, will not play Sunday

Dec 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA; Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA; Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith will not play Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers because of a lacerated spleen.

Backup quarterback Chase Daniel will start the regular-season finale in place of Smith with a postseason berth on the line.

Smith suffered the injury in Week 16’s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, most likely during a hit in the third quarter on an incomplete deep pass to wide receiver Albert Wilson.

Smith finished the game and put in two practices prior earlier in the week prior to the discovery of the exact nature of his injury Thursday night, Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder announced Friday.

“We had the diagnosis through the scan that he had about a 3 centimeter laceration in his spleen,” Burkholder told reporters, “and he didn’t have hardly any bleeding at all.”

Further medical test revealed Smith’s spleen was “slight enlarged,” but the long-term prognosis appears good for a full recovery, Burkholder said.

“He has a small laceration,” Burkholder said. “Generally they take six weeks, but everybody is different. “He’s a young, healthy guy that’s got a high metabolism. So if we’re playing three, four weeks from now, we’ll rescan him and see where he’s at and send him back to the general surgeon.”

Still, Smith could miss the postseason if the Chiefs advance considering the recovery timetable.

Smith, who will not require surgery, told reporters Friday he didn’t start expressing discomfort until after showering and getting dressed following Sunday’s game in the form of pressure and cramping.

“I thought it was something I ate,” Smith said. “I didn’t even necessarily relate it to a hit, but definitely discomfort down there.”

Smith said the discomfort, which he described as “nausea kind of coming and going,” didn’t prohibit him from practicing or running, adding he felt great athletically.

“I knew a (flu) bug was going around,” he said. “I thought maybe it was that.”

Smith eventually went for testing on Christmas Day at the urging from team doctors, leading to the discovery of the lacerated spleen.

“I didn’t know what to make of it when they’re telling you,” Smith said. “You don’t know all the medical stuff that comes with the spleen, so you’re kind of learning as they tell you.”

Meanwhile, Daniel is set to make his second career start, coincidentally also against the Chargers.

The sixth-year pro out of Missouri started the 2013 Week 17 season finale against the Chargers, completing 21-of-30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. He added 59 yards rushing on seven carries in the 27-24 overtime loss.

Daniel’s 2-yard touchdown pass in that contest to then-Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster is the Chiefs’ last regular-season touchdown pass to a wide receiver.