Armani Watts on Chiefs debut: “I felt good out there”
Daniel Sorensen’s replacement at safety might have suited up for the Chiefs on Thursday night.
Or he might not have.
Coach Andy Reid played it coy on Friday afternoon’s conference call when asked about his plans to replace Sorensen at the starting safety spot alongside Eric Berry.
“There’s a chance, yeah,” Reid said when asked if Sorensen’s replacement was on the roster. “We feel pretty good about our young guys; we’ve just got to see how it goes.”
Plenty of those young guys got a chance to take the field in Thursday night’s 17-10 loss to the Texans, filling in for the fifth-year safety who injured his leg earlier this week when another player fell on it in what Reid called a “freak special teams play.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that Sorensen was having surgery on the injury, and he could be out for nearly two months.
With Sorensen out and veteran Berry still recovering from last year’s torn Achilles, Reid used Thursday night’s preseason loss as a test period for some of those younger players who could fill pivotal roles in Sorensen’s absence.
Rookie Armani Watts benefited immediately, moving up from fourth on the unofficial depth chart to the starting job alongside third-year pro Eric Murray.
Reid gave Watts the longest audition of the young players, keeping him on the field for nearly 90 percent of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps to give him as many reps as possible.
The Texas A&M product played in the first and second half, finishing with three tackles.
“He did some good things,” Reid said Friday. “He’s got to see it. He’s a little bit hesitant on a couple things, but then he flew around on a couple things, so it was kind of an up-and-down performance.
“There were some good things and then some things where he just needed to see it, so he can work on it. In college, he had great anticipation on plays. I think that now, that’s just a matter of him being able to see a few things to do it.”
Other players, such as Robert Golden and Jordan Sterns, also had a chance to make their case at safety, but one of the top contenders for Sorensen’s job wasn’t in uniform Thursday night.
Battling a hamstring injury, second-year safety Leon McQuay didn’t get on the field in the game, and he hasn’t participated in the last two practices after straining his hamstring a week ago.
When the unofficial depth chart came out last week, McQuay was listed as a second-string player behind Sorensen. Drafted by the Chiefs in the sixth round of the 2017 draft, McQuay made the 53-man roster from the practice squad after safety Steven Terrell went on injured reserve in December.
“McQuay really was coming on before he got banged up there,” Reid said.
Reid didn’t have a definitive answer when asked if McQuay would return to training camp practice Saturday morning, but he said that the safety was starting to feel better.
For the Chiefs, integrating and further developing the young players into all the position groups will be crucial throughout the final days of training camp and the preseason. After just one game, Reid felt like all of his young players could be on the cusp of a breakthrough.
“We had a lot of good work for those young guys that I thought it was just good work for them and they can learn from this,” Reid said. “I thought we were just off a tick, on just ‘going.’ Seeing it, and let’s go. That’s something they can come back and work on.”