The Chiefs’ win against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, while sorely needed, was costly.
On Tuesday, the team placed two starting defenders — defensive end Allen Bailey and inside linebacker Justin March-Lillard — on injured reserve.
Bailey’s placement on injured reserve was not a surprise; he injured his shoulder and only appeared in 12 plays Sunday, and a source told The Star Tuesday there was concern he might miss the entire season, confirming a report by NFL Insider Rand Getlin.
But March-Lillard’s injury was a bit of a surprise, considering Chiefs coach Andy Reid did not mention him as injured either immediately after the game or during his Monday news conference. However, a team spokesman said Tuesday that March-Lillard is being put on the shelf with a hand injury.
To take their spots on the roster — and also to replace running back Knile Davis, who was traded to Green Bay on Tuesday — the Chiefs promoted inside linebacker Ramik Wilson, defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches and cornerback Terrance Mitchell from the practice squad and signed defensive lineman Kendall Reyes, a five-year veteran free agent.
To make room for Reyes, the Chiefs released Nick Williams, who logged a season-low four snaps against the Raiders after consistently playing between 10 percent and 17 percent of the defensive snaps in the first four games.
The addition of two defensive linemen makes sense, considering Bailey’s injury against the Raiders led to Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard each logging season-high snap percentages of 89 percent and 75 percent, respectively, and also led to second-round rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones logging 38 percent of the snaps.
Jones made two tackles, including a tackle for loss, against the Raiders. Reid was asked Monday if Jones, an athletic 6-foot-6, 308-pounder, could see more playing time.
“Well, we’ve been rotating him in,” Reid said. “He just got a few more snaps because Bailey got hit on that arm, there. I mean, he could do that, too. He could jump in and play more if he needed to, but I’m not saying that’s the case right now.”
Bailey has seven tackles and no sacks this season, while Jones has produced the same stat line in far fewer snaps.
Nunez-Roches, a sixth-round pick a year ago, and Reyes provide depth up front. Reyes, 27, was released by Washington two weeks ago after recording five tackles and zero sacks in two games.
For his career, Reyes — who spent his first four seasons in San Diego — has recorded 131 tackles and 13 1/2 sacks in 64 games, with 46 starts. Given that starting experience, he might figure to work his way into the rotation in a pinch.
What the Chiefs end up doing to replace March-Lillard, however, will be far more interesting, as the Chiefs are already down a pair of starting inside linebackers in him and Josh Mauga.
Candidates figure to include special-teams contributor D.J. Alexander, a fifth-round pick a year ago, four-year veteran Sam Barrington, who was claimed off waivers from Green Bay before the season, and four-year veteran Sio Moore, who was signed as a free agent a week and a half ago. Both Barrington (eight starts) and Wilson (two starts) have starting experience Alexander doesn’t.
The Chiefs’ decision to sign Mitchell — who recorded 13 tackles the last two seasons, along with three pass deflections and a sack — from the practice squad comes on the heels of Sunday’s game against Oakland, when third-corner Phillip Gaines couldn’t finish due to another flare up in his knee.