The Kansas City Chiefs opened Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals with surprises on offense.
And arguably the biggest one surrounded second-year offensive lineman Zach Fulton starting at right guard in place of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
“Sometimes you can take a step back to take a step forward,” coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game of Duvernay-Tardif. “That’s one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn’t have as much experience as the other guys and I like what Zach Fulton has been doing.”
Fulton started all 16 games at right guard as a rookie in 2014, but the Chiefs moved him to center during training camp and preseason action. That position switch in addition to Jeff Allen’s knee injury opened the door for Duvernay-Tardif to start the first three games heading into Sunday.
The other surprise was second-year running back Charcandrick West playing the role of Jamaal Charles’ primary backup instead of Knile Davis.
“We like what Charcandrick has been doing,” Reid told reporters. “We also like Knile. On certain situations, we like to use them all. In those situations, we chose to go with Charcandrick. We haven’t lost any confidence in Knile. You saw some of the things we were doing with him and we think Charcandrick does a pretty good job with those things.”
West finished the game with 17 yards rushing on five carries, adding one catch for 4 yards on three targets.
Davis continued his role as the primary kickoff returner, totaling 86 yards on four returns.
Rookie wide receiver Chris Conley started in place of Albert Wilson, who was inactive after being listed as questionable on the injury report with a shoulder injury. Conley had two catches for 53 yards on seven targets.
The Bengals defeated the Chiefs, 36-21.
Protecting quarterback Alex Smith was an issue heading into Sunday’s game when considering he led the league with 13 times sacked on the season.
Add five more to that total after the Bengals had their way with the Chiefs’ offensive line.
“I think they had five sacks, so it’s too much,” coach Andy Reid told reporters after the game. “We have got to tighten that up and keep working on it.”
The Chiefs offensive line has been in transition with a new starter at each spot from the 2014 season, including rookie Mitch Morse starting at center.
“We’re young in some spots and inexperienced in some spots,” Reid said. “I never say it’s a long season, but you can expect the improvement to continue to take place as we go forward. This is a good defensive front, which isn’t an excuse. We’ve got to keep getting better and that’s the bottom line.”
Smith has now been sacked 18 on the season and is on pace for 70-plus on the year.
DELAY OF GAME PENALTY EXPLAINED
One of the oddest plays occurred with the Chiefs driving and on Cincinnati’s 23-yard line with 33 seconds remaining in the first half.
Facing a third-and-7, the Chiefs called a timeout, talked it over on the sideline, went to the line of scrimmage, and then were penalized 5 yards for a delay of game infraction.
Quarterback Alex Smith explained in detail after the game what happened.
“We called the timeout and the refs — you don’t know (as) the TV (broadcast) dictates whether it’s going to be a 30 second time out or a long time out — so we come over to the sideline and no one told us anything,” Smith told reporters. “And all of a sudden they had started the clock because it was a 30-second timeout and no one told us anything. It’s all dictated from the TV (broadcast). We had no idea. No one had told us anything.”
The confusion and lack of communication apparently didn’t sit well with Smith.
“Usually, head refs wait,” Smith said. “Common practice out of the time out is they’ll give you a 10-second heads up as a quarterback to call the play, make sure you’re ready so you don’t have a situation like that.
“I thought that was a bit ridiculous after a time out, so we had a delay of game. No one came over to tell us that was a 30-second time out because those are completely different (situations) in my mind and I thought there was a lack of communication there that should have been that normally is I’m accustomed to it. Most head refs make you aware and will give you the time and we just took a time out, so to be rushing us and not communicate that was unusual.”
The Chiefs got on the scoreboard two plays later on Cairo Santos’ 34-yard field goal to close the first half.
Starting inside linebacker Josh Mauga suffered what coach Andy Reid categorized as a “thigh strain” early in the first quarter and did not finish the game.
Rookie Ramik Wilson entered the game and totaled eight tackles (four solo) in relief of Mauga.
The reeling Chiefs (1-3) return home to host the Chicago Bears (1-3) at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5.
Chicago secured its first win of the season Sunday by defeating the Oakland Raiders, 22-20.