The Chiefs will play at Washington on Sunday without three key starters.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Offensive tackle Branden Albert, outside linebacker Justin Houston and tight end Anthony Fasano have been ruled out because of injuries.
Albert suffered a hyperextended knee in last week’s loss to Denver. Houston, the team’s sack leader with 11, suffered a right elbow subluxation two weeks ago against San Diego; and Fasano, who has caught touchdown passes in each of the last three games, is recovering from a concussion.
Albert’s absence could have a huge effect against Washington, which has an outstanding pass rusher in Brian Orakpo, who has 8 1/2 sacks this season, including 4 1/2 in the last four games.
Two-year veteran Donald Stephenson, who has started two games at right tackle, will start in in Albert’s spot at left tackle, a role Stephenson filled in five games last season.
“We’re fortunate to have good backups who we consider as starters,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Friday. “They’ve started enough games here that we feel comfortable saying that. Donald is one of those. He’s had a good week of practice and prepared himself to play against a great player.”
Because Sean McGrath is the only healthy tight end on the 53-man active roster, the Chiefs likely will make some moves to fill Fasano’s spot. The club likely will elevate Dominique Jones from the practice squad and release someone.
“Jones did take some reps … and would seem like the logical one if Fasano can’t go,” Reid said.
Washington reported four players as questionable: safety Reed Doughty (concussion), safety Brandon Meriweather (chest), tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) and fullback Darrel Young (hamstring).
Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub saw something familiar when Auburn’s Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 100-plus yards for its victory over Alabama last week.
When Toub was Chicago’s special teams coach, the Bears twice returned missed field goals for touchdowns — 108 yards by Nathan Vasher against San Francisco in 2005 and 108 yards by Devin Hester against the New York Giants in 2006.
After seeing the Auburn play, the Chiefs coaching staff discussed using some faster players in field-goal protection if they tried such a kick.
“You might want to put a couple different guys in there at the wing spot,” Toub said. “Guys that can cover a little bit better than … a guy you would have in there on a normal field-goal situation. Those are things we need to think about.
“Auburn actually showed the returner, he was in there before Auburn called the timeout, it was kind of interesting. (Alabama) still didn’t get it covered.”
The Chiefs decided against having Ryan Succop try a 64-yard field goal at Denver when the Broncos placed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie under the goal post.
“The odds are against you in that situation,” Toub said. “With the alignment you have on the field, you just can’t cover those speed guys. You have to take that into account for sure.”
Demps or Davis?
Quintin Demps has been the Chiefs’ primary kickoff returner, and he ranks sixth in the NFL with a 27.9-yard average on 23 returns, including a long of 57 yards.
But after rookie Knile Davis bolted 108 yards — a yard shy of the NFL record — for a score against Denver last week, who will get the call on Sunday? It depends.
“Sometimes it’s based off, if Quintin is playing a lot of defense, which he did in that last game,” Toub said of Demps, who is a regular in the dime defense. “I look at him if it’s his turn up (and), he points at the other guy … we go right to Knile. Knile is usually fresh at that point.”
When Reid was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he was 10-4 in games at Washington.
With a win on Sunday, Reid will become the 21st coach in NFL history with 150 career victories, including postseason.
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/randycovitz.