In this week’s Chiefs Blitz, The Star’s Terez A. Paylor answers five postgame Twitter questions about Derrick Johnson’s injury, potential replacements, Phillip Gaines and more, including the stat of the day.
1. Are the Chiefs still a Super Bowl contender without DJ? – @Brandon_Gray29
To be fair, the severity of star inside linebacker Derrick Johnson’s left Achilles injury is not yet known. But given the fact Johnson already missed an entire season (2014) to an injury to his other Achilles – plus the non-contact nature of the injury Thursday – it’s hard not to consider it. Johnson’s insincts, production and knowledge are not replaceable. Anything can happen in the NFL – and it’s really important to remember that – but his replacements have huge, huge shoes to fill if he’s out for good.
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2. Chiefs’ available ILBs? Alexander? – @LarryMcCammon
The next men up at inside linebacker would be 2015 fourth-round pick Ramik Wilson, who has generally played well this season, and 2015 fifth-round pick D.J. Alexander, who is primarily a special teams player. With Johnson out, the Chiefs also turned to safety Daniel Sorensen, their nickel/dime linebacker. The Chiefs already have two contributors, Justin March-Lillard (hand) and Josh Mauga (shoulder), on injured reserve. But teams are allowed to bring one player a year off IR, and the Chiefs have not done so yet.
3. Ugh why can’t we just enjoy a blowout for once? This team doesn’t make anything easy. – @DiabetesMan87
Hey, that’s the nature of the game. Blowouts like their 30-0 wild-card win over Houston in January was special because they’re rare. The Chiefs’ up-and-down nature this season is a good example of why the phrase “any given Sunday” is so true. At least the Chiefs have shown a lot of resiliency this season.
4. Is Gaines hurt or are they just not happy with him? Why is Mitchell in at the No. 2 spot? – @SethAtkins
Phillip Gaines’ surgically-repaired knee has been flaring up all season long. It’s been an issue for him, and has kept him from getting into a rhythm as the season has gone on. The staff must like what it has seen in Mitchell, a practice squad pickup in mid-October.
5. Do you think Jeremy Maclin came back too early? Is he more of a decoy tonight? – @WittersBen
Is Maclin healthy? No. He’s still recovering from a groin injury. But he played tonight because his team needed him, and they are certainly better with him than without him.
4 — The number of consecutive games tight end Travis Kelce has tallied 100 yards receiving.