Chiefs offensive lineman Andrew Wylie returned to the starting lineup in Week 9 after missing three games with an ankle injury.
But instead of taking his spot at left guard, the Chiefs moved Wylie to right guard to cover down for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who was inactive with an ankle injury against the Minnesota Vikings.
For Wylie, it was just another day at the office to showcase his versatility to play different positions along the front five.
“It was good to be back on the right after playing all this year on the left,” Wylie said. “I started 12 games on the right side, so it really wasn’t too hard to transfer sides.
“That’s something I do like to pride myself on is being able to play multiple sides and multiple positions.”
Switching sides on the offensive line isn’t as easy as it sounds, as players have to adjust their stances and techniques and mentally accommodate the blocking angles at game speed.
“It’s just the fact you have to flip in your head,” Wylie explained. “Like, you put most of the weight on your right foot, then target a different spot with a different hand. The angles are always the same, but they’re just flipped.”
Wylie’s ability to shift from left to right or right to left is another example of Kansas City’s next-man-up mentality. The Chiefs have truly tested that mindset this season with a slew of injuries, especially on the offensive line.
Since the season started, the Chiefs had to deal with injuries to a trio of starting offensive linemen: Wylie, Duvernay-Tardif and left tackle Eric Fisher (groin). Combined, those three players have missed a total of 11 games.
The Chiefs had viable options to fill in, with Cam Erving replacing Fisher and the guard spots covered by flexible players capable of performing at a high level either inside or outside.
Martinas Rankin, a tackle the Chiefs traded for in August, moved to left guard for three games with Wylie on the mend. Then, upon Wylie’s return in Week 9, Wylie shifted over to the right side to cover for Duvernay-Tardif.
A lineman possessing a versatile skill-set is something the Chiefs covet.
“You love position flexibility up front,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said Thursday. “It’s always good when those guys can come in and line up at center, guard or tackle, and just plug them in right away. That helps out tremendously.”
With the 6-foot-6, 309-pound Wylie, the Chiefs have a player who can help out at any time along the front five. Bieniemy certainly appreciates the second-year pro’s contributions.
“One thing, a testament to Wylie, this kid has worked his tail off each and every year,” Bieniemy said. “He’s found a way to put himself in position to be one of the starting five. Those are the type of people you want in your organization. Those are the type of people you want to line up with every Sunday.”
In the meantime, Wylie will continue to serve his role as an invaluable piece of the line. Whether he’ll remains at right guard for Sunday’s game at the Tennessee Titans is unclear, but Duvernay-Tardif returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis.
Wylie is ready to do whatever he’s asked as a blocker.
Well, almost anything.
“I try to stay away from the center position,” Wylie said with a laugh. “I’ll leave that to the guys who are locked in and ready to roll, but both guards and both tackles.”