On Tuesday, the Chiefs announced a handful of roster moves. Among them, one of their 2022 rookies was placed on the Reserved/Injured list and will miss at least four weeks.
After somewhat of a standout Week One, in which he was targeted zero times in 21 coverage snaps, the Chiefs have placed rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie onto the Reserve/Injured list. He suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The trip to the IR does not mean that McDuffie’s season is over — NFL teams can return up to eight players per season from IR — but instead means that he will miss at least four weeks.
According to the NFL’s newest Injured Reserve rules for the 2022 season, a player must miss at least four games after being placed on the reserve list. Placing McDuffie on the IR allows the Chiefs to replace his roster spot with another player and allow their rookie to heal back to full health without feeling the need to rush him back too early. In a corresponding move, the Chiefs have also elevated linebackers Elijah Lee and Jack Cochrane from the practice squad.
How Will The Chiefs Defense Look Without McDuffie On The Field?
McDuffie played the bulk of snaps before he left Sunday’s game with his injury. He ended up appearing in a total of 49% of the team’s defensive snaps, good for fourth among all Kansas City defensive backs. In his absence, fellow rookie Jaylen Watson was able to make his own mark on the Chiefs’ defense. Watson was fairly impressive in his debut, much like McDuffie.
Other defensive backs with much smaller snap counts in Week One — Bryan Cook (34%), Joshua Williams (23%), and Chris Lammons (12%) — figure to get a much more sizeable workload in the coming weeks with McDuffie sidelined. The team entered the season feeling very positive about their “Fab Five” from the 2022 NFL Draft. With one of those five now out and another signed to the practice squad, it gives the other three a solid chance to make their mark on Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.
Losing McDuffie is a major blow to a promising Chiefs secondary, no matter how positive you spin it. In Week One, despite ranking 11th in attempts, the Cardinals finished the week just 26th in the league in passing yards. Their net yards per attempt (4.4) ranked 29th. Kyler Murray finished his day with just 193 yards passing and didn’t complete any passes of 30 or more yards. Kansas City’s defensive depth will get tested early this season with their first-round cornerback on the shelf, but Watson looks more than able to fill in during his absence.
Additional Chiefs Injury News Ahead Of Thursday’s Game
McDuffie wasn’t the only Chiefs player with injury concerns following their blowout victory in the season opener on Sunday. Patrick Mahomes suffered a wrist injury that was clearly bothering him — but didn’t stop him from dominating the Arizona secondary. Andy Reid said on Tuesday that Mahomes is a “full go” and shouldn’t be limited on Thursday.
Harrison Butker suffered an ankle injury in the game and was sidelined before returning to make a field goal in the second half of Sunday’s win. Safety Justin Reid continued to handle kickoffs, even after Butker’s return. Coach Reid said Butker remains “day to day” and his status remains in question ahead of Thursday’s contest. If he is unable to go, the team will likely continue to rely on Reid to handle kicking duties. This would limit the team’s kicking range, which could become notable in a key division matchup.
There was no formal practice today for the Chiefs, however, they did release injury updates for several other key players. Mahomes (wrist) and Reid (hand) were listed as full participants. Meanwhile, wideouts Justin Watson (chest) and Juju Smith-Schuster (shoulder) were listed as limited participants. Offensive linemen Orlando Brown Jr (knee) and Trey Smith (ankle) were also listed as limited participants. Those four players with limited designations will be players to watch ahead of Thursday’s game. Their status on Wednesday’s practice will go a long way in determining their status for the game ahead.
It’s not the news that the Chiefs wanted to hear, with so many notable injuries so early in the season. However, the Chargers are dealing with a few of their own notable injuries. Wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered his own hamstring injury in Week One and looks unlikely to play in Thursday’s game. Cornerback J.C. Jackson is also struggling with an ankle injury and will likely miss the game as well. If there’s any time to deal with injuries, it is certainly early in the season.
The Chiefs would certainly rather deal with these situations now than later in the season while they’re in the midst of a playoff race.