The Chiefs identified their starting offensive line early in training camp and, to borrow one of coach Andy Reid’s favorite lines, that’s how they rolled through the preseason and into the opening game.
But alternative plans are needed for the second game.
Both guards, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Parker Ehinger, have been ruled out for Sunday’s contest at Houston.
Duvernay-Tardif suffered a high ankle sprain toward the end of last weekend’s opener against the Chargers, and Ehinger suffered a concussion during practice on Wednesday. Both were in all 73 offensive snaps of the Chiefs’ 33-27 overtime victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
Zach Fulton is likely to start in Duvernay-Tardif’s spot at right guard. Fulton, a third-year pro, started six games last season and all 16 in 2014.
Fulton got practice reps at center and both guard spots this week. Last season, he started three games at right guard, two at left guard and one at center. He was the starting center in both postseason games when Mitch Morse was out with a concussion.
“I have to stay familiar with each role,” Fulton said.
Jah Reid, who played guard in both postseason games and started in the playoff game at New England last season, is likely to get the call in Ehinger’s spot. Reid started 10 games at right tackle during the regular season, including the opener at Houston.
“The linemen that are in there, we have trust in all of them,” co-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said earlier in the week. “You saw last year with Jah Reid. He came in on short notice and did well in such a hostile environment. So the biggest thing is the next-man-up mentality.”
The ability to plug in former starters was the Chiefs’ depth-building objective in the preseason.
“We’ve got a good group there, guys who have some experience,” Reid said. “It becomes important in a situation such as this.”
The only other offensive lineman on the 53-man roster is swing tackle Bryan Witzmann. The Chiefs have two offensive linemen — Jordan Devey and Jarrod Pughsley — on the practice squad. Devey can play guard and center. Pughsley can play tackle and guard.
Also out for Sunday’s game is linebacker Sam Barrington. He didn’t play on defense against the Chargers but logged 10 special-team snaps.
Running back Jamaal Charles is listed as doubtful, and although linebacker Tamba Hali didn’t practice on Friday, he is expected to play against the Texans. Hali was part of a rotation with Dee Ford and Frank Zombo last week.