The Chiefs could be without two key players in Sunday’s season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
Starting cornerback Marcus Cooper suffered an ankle injury and rookie running back/punt returner De’Anthony Thomas strained a hamstring late in Wednesday’s practice, coach Andy Reid said.
“This was like the last play of practice,” Reid said. “It was a crazy deal.”
Neither player practiced on Thursday but Reid was optimistic about their chances on Sunday.
“There was very little swelling in the ankle,” Reid said of Cooper’s injury.
Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick from Oregon, was utilized in multiple roles during the preseason and is the Chiefs’ primary punt returner. He returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown in the preseason opener against Cincinnati.
“If he doesn’t go, it’s next man up for us,” Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “We have a lot of guys in the wings who can do it. I’m happy with those guys … it could be Frankie (Hammond Jr.), it could be Albert (Wilson), it could be Joe McKnight.
“We have three guys who can do it. If that’s the case, I think we’ll be fine.”
Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 174-pound speedster, brings unique skill sets to the Chiefs offense as a runner and receiver, so finding a next man up for his role may not be so easy.
“You’ve got plenty of guys, really,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “You’ve got a guy like (wide receiver) A.J. Jenkins as a potential guy. Albert (Wilson) has had some reps at that position all through training camp. Junior Hemingway is in that role … Joe McKnight … We’ll get the next guy ready, and hopefully all is good, and we’ll get him out here.”
If Cooper is unable to play on Sunday, Ron Parker would start in his place at left cornerback.
The Chiefs already will be without wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, who are serving NFL suspensions.
Looking into a mirror
Toub has been preparing for some familiar faces in Tennessee kicker Ryan Succop, who was released by the Chiefs last week after five years with the Chiefs, and punt returner Dexter McCluster, who spent four years in Kansas City.
“It’s going to be a weird pre-game,” Toub said. “We’ve talked about how we’ll be crossing paths … Ryan’s a great guy. It didn’t surprise me that he got picked up so quickly.”
Hali is healthy
Outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who missed some practice time during the week of the final preseason game because of a swollen knee, pronounced himself fit for the season opener.
“The knee is doing well,” Hali said. “I told them to put on the injury report: ‘Old age.’ I feel 100 percent and will be ready to go when the whistle blows.”