There’s little doubt the Chiefs missed star inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito this season, as both suffered season-ending Achilles tendon injuries in a season-opening loss to Tennessee.
Achilles injuries typically require a year of recovery, but when asked if both will be ready for the beginning of offseason training in April, Chiefs coach Andy Reid was optimistic.
“I think they will be,” Reid said. “We’ll just see how things roll there. You remember phase one, if you’re considering that, that’s really just conditioning — that’s not something where you’re on the field.
“Phase two you’re still conditioning, you’re in the class. Phase three, now you’re out there and that doesn’t happen until later on so you buy a couple of months there. I think most likely they will be.”
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Phase one of offseason training begins on April 20, while phase two begins on May 4. Phase three begins on May 25.
The Chiefs did not let Johnson or DeVito speak to reporters, citing their injury policy. But both were in the locker room Monday, and both have shed their braces and casts. DeVito, in particular, looked spry as he hurried to and from his locker.
“They’ve been working out together here rehabbing and they’ve been challenging each other like crazy, which is a neat thing to see go on,” Reid said.
Both players have a year remaining on their contracts. DeVito, 30, has a cap number of $5.4 million, while Johnson, 32, has a cap number of $5.2 million.
The Chiefs could save money by releasing one or both players, but the team also got a look at what life will be without each of them this season, when their run defense dropped from 11th last season to 28th.
DeVito’s Pro Football Focus run defense grade of plus-16.4 in 2013 ranked fourth among all 45 qualifying 3-4 defensive ends, while Johnson’s run defense grade of plus-1.3 ranked 18th among all 55 qualifying 3-4 inside linebackers.