DT Khalen Saunders Placed on Injured Reserve

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs placed defensive tackle Khalen Saunders on injured reserve Saturday, while also elevating defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett from the practice squad for Sunday’s contest at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Saunders suffered an elbow dislocation during the team’s Week 1 win over the Houston Texans. The injury expects to keep Saunders on the sidelines for approximately four weeks.

That allows the Chiefs to take advantage of new roster rules for 2020 that lets players return from injured reserve after only three weeks. There is also no limit on the number of players than can return from injured reserve this season.

Hoyett is a standard elevation from the practice squad, which means he is only promoted to the active roster for Sunday’s game. He will revert back to the practice squad after the contest. This move was expected after the Chiefs protected Hoyett from signing with any other club this week.

The Chiefs were thin at defensive tackle before Hoyett’s elevation with only starters Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi along with undrafted rookie free agent Tershawn Wharton available on the roster. Nnadi played only 16 snaps in Week 1 as the team continues bringing him along slowly following offseason ankle surgery.

The Chiefs do get reinforcements next week, however, with the return of Mike Pennel. Pennel started the season with a two-game suspension from the NFL.

Hoyett entered the league as an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State in 2019. He spent training camp with Tennessee as a rookie before his release during final roster cuts. He first signed with the Chiefs practice squad on Sept. 30 last season. Hoyett served on the practice squad through the team’s Super Bowl run.

The Chiefs waived Hoyett during their cutdown from 90 to 80 players during training camp this season. He re-signed with the club when rookie offensive lineman Lucas Niang opted out for the 2020 season.