Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

October 25, 2018 at 12:12 am.

–The Chiefs cleared safety Daniel Sorensen to return to practice with the team, making the next step in his recovery from a tibial plateau fracture in his left knee that kept him on the sidelines since training camp.

“We’re just going to let him ease in, just kind of get himself back in,” head coach Andy Reid said. “I haven’t thought of expectations right now at all other than he’s able to go out there and get acclimated again.”

Sorensen’s return to practice starts a three-week period during which he can practice with the team before the club must make a decision on whether to return him to the active roster or keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. The Chiefs can return two players from injured reserve during the season.

The defensive back underwent surgery to repair his left knee on Aug. 8. The club expected him to miss at least the first half of the season. He watched practice from the sidelines last week, and on Sunday ran through drills before the game at Arrowhead Stadium testing his knee.

Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder views the next few weeks as an extension of his recovery time.

“This will be a trial period,” Burkholder said. “We’re taking this period of time where he practices as a rehab session.”

While Sorensen can practice with the club for up to three weeks, the earliest he could return to the active roster is next week following the game against Denver. Reid said Sorensen will simply focus on getting his legs underneath him as he rebuilds his strength.

“It won’t be with the first group, that’s not what he’s doing, and work some scout-team things and get himself acclimated and ease in to get him back at speed,” Reid said.”

–NFL players carry a reputation for toughness, but Chiefs offensive lineman Jordan Devey burnished his ironman credentials on Sunday, gutting through a torn pectoral muscle for most of the game in protecting his quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“It’s unreal,” Mahomes said Wednesday when asked the toughness demonstrated by Devey. “I actually saw when he did it and I looked at him and said, ‘Are you good?’ And he was like, ‘I’m good to go,’ and I was like, all right, let’s go. He played the whole game and fought through. They have some dudes in the middle too. He fought his tail off and played a really good game with basically one arm.”

The injury appeared to occur late in the first quarter on a second-and-15 play from the Bengals’ 33-yard line. Devey put a low block on linebacker Vontaze Burfict and landed awkwardly on his right shoulder as the bottom of Burfict’s cleat seem to drag on his arm.

Devey headed to the sideline after the drive, where the Chiefs medical staff and head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder examined him.

“He had a big laceration and pretty significant cleat mark on his arm,” Burkholder said. “He felt like he could play, we felt like he could play and he came in after the game, we tested him again and then we decided to get an MRI because things didn’t add up.”

The MRI revealed a torn right pectoralis major muscle tear, which requires season-ending surgery. Team orthopedist Dr. Paul Schroeppel will perform the repair Thursday at the University of Kansas Health System at Indian Creek campus.

Devey’s injury leaves the Chiefs with a bench short on experience. Starting center Mitch Morse remains in the league’s concussion protocol and did not practice on Wednesday. The club signed veteran free agent Jeff Allen last week, and promoted rookie lineman Jimmy Murray from the practice squad. The teams also carries center Austin Reiter, and the Chiefs could move left guard Cam Erving to center and fill in with Allen at guard.

Head coach Andy Reid remain noncommittal on the team’s plans Wednesday.

“Austin’s here and he’s got experience, so he could step in and play if needed,” Reid said. “Jeff Allen could play if needed. And (offensive line coach) Andy Heck does a great job of rotating those guys during practice now and OTAs and during training camp. Everybody can work into all the positions. We don’t get concerned about, we try to move forward and if you can go, you can go, and if you can’t, you can’t, and we move on.”

Linebacker Terrance Smith also left Sunday’s game with an injury. He suffered a torn ACL in a non-contact situation during kickoff coverage, Burkholder said.

“He also has some involvement on the lateral and posterior portion of that knee,” Burkholder said. “Right now he’s working on swelling and range of motion and him and his agent and our medical staff are working through on who will operate on him, but he’ll need to be surgically repaired. With those ACLs, it’s an extended period of time for recovery.”

The Chiefs placed Smith on injured reserve Tuesday, effectively ending his season. Third-round draft pick Dorian O’Daniel expects to pick up most of the slack as a nickel and dime linebacker in substitution packages. Safety Daniel Sorensen may also share that load when he returns from injured reserve as expected in the next few weeks.

–The high-flying Chiefs average a league-best 37.1 points per game, but Broncos head coach Vance Joseph says it isn’t the misdirection and trickery of the offense that poses the biggest challenge, but that each personnel group presents a different philosophy for which to strategize.

When they’re in 21 when they’re in two backs, one tight, two receivers, it’s a different offense,” Joseph said. “When they’re in two tights, two receivers, one back, it’s different offense. When they’re in three wides, one tight, one back, it’s a college offense. So it’s really three different offenses to prepare for, so that makes it really difficult.”

Joseph and the Broncos know the Chiefs offense with Patrick Mahomes under center better than anyone. Mahomes makes his ninth career start on Sunday, and this will be the third against the Broncos.

Joseph said elements including the jet motions, reverses and shovel passes of head coach Andy Reid’s offense make it tough to defend against because it turns into a game of assignment football.

“This league is really based on winning one-on-ones,” Joseph said. “But when you’re playing this offense, it’s really about winning one-on-ones, but also it becomes quickly an assignment game. If anyone misses an assignment, it can be a big play at any moment.

“It’s a challenge to prepare for this offense because of what they do schematically, and when you add the speed and the weapons and a young quarterback playing at a high, high level, it makes it a difficult challenge.”

Two players also add difficulty to defending the Chiefs, Joseph said. He points toward receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce as players his team has had trouble defending in the past. He said Hill looks more polished as a receiver than he was even a year ago.

“This guy’s explosive, he can really stop and start, which makes him a great route-runner, and he can catch the ball in traffic, which is really, really rare for little receivers,” Joseph said. “Tyreek and probably Antonio Brown are the two little guys who can really finish in traffic down the field, and that’s a special trait.”

Joseph called Kelce “a matchup nightmare.”

“He’s probably too fast for every linebacker in the league and he’s probably too big for most of the safeties,” Joseph explained. “What you have to do is when he’s out of the core, you treat him as a wide receiver, that way you can play top-down coverage but if you don’t, again he will make a big play.”

And making the Chiefs offense go is Mahomes, whom Joseph praises for his ability to keep his vision focused down field outside the pocket.

“Most young guys when they break the pocket, they’re looking to run the football and gain four or five yards and slide,” Joseph said. “He is not. He’s trying to stay behind the line and make a big play down field. And the problem with this guy, he can throw the ball across his body moving left or moving right. How do you combat that? You simply can’t.”

The Broncos gave the Chiefs a fight in Denver in Week 4 before Kansas City rallied to emerge on top 27-23. Joseph can’t lean on the same strategy they deployed four weeks ago and hope to come away with a win.

“I told our guys this morning, what we did last time was play good enough football to lose the game,” Joseph said. “We can’t go in with the same plan and the same mindset. We have to do more, we need a better plan, we have to play better, we have to make more plays.”

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – Number of touchdown receptions by Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, which leads the league through the first seven weeks of the season. That matches his career-best which he set last season.