By the time the Chiefs’ season came to a close in mid-January, the Chiefs’ top pass rusher — outside linebacker Justin Houston — was limited by a knee injury.
In the biggest game of the year — their 27-20 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round — Houston only logged eight of 58 possible snaps due to a hyperextended knee.
At the NFL Combine on Thursday, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said Houston and fellow outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who dealt with swelling in both knees the last two years, underwent surgery after the season.
“Both of them have had procedures,” Dorsey said.
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The Chiefs said trainer Rick Burkholder will elaborate on those procedures some point this offseason, but what is currently known is that Houston — who finished the 2015 season with 7 1/2 sacks — missed the last five games of the regular season, and re-injured the knee in the Chiefs’ 30-0 Wild Card Game win over the Houston Texans.
“He got re-injured on that one play, and he wasn’t the same the rest of that game and that next game,” said David Chao, a former NFL team physician. “That wasn’t him.”
However, Chao said Houston’s hyperextended knee is something that allows for full recovery.
“Yeah, (it just takes) time, and that’s without surgery,” Chao said. “He just didn’t have enough time.”
Hali, meanwhile, noted at the end of the season that if he does return, he wants to play at a high level. He dealt with swelling in his left knee in 2014, and swelling in his right knee last season, but still made his sixth second straight Pro Bowl while recording 6 1/2 sacks in 15 games.
The Chiefs held Hali out of practice most of the season, opting to keep him fresh for games, but Hali told The Star after the season that his recent knee issues would still require offseason surgery.
Hali is slated to be a free agent in March. If the Chiefs don’t get a new deal done with him before March 4 — five days before free agency — they’ll be hit with a $3 million cap charge due to the voidable years left on his deal.