Daniel Sorensen doesn’t miss many tackles, but he didn’t bring down Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, who broke free after taking a short pass and headed upfield.
Sorensen didn’t give up on the play. He recovered, chased down Gordon and made the tackle, one of three by Sorensen in the Chiefs’ 10-3 victory over the Chargers on Sunday as he continues the most productive stretch of his two-year NFL career.
An injury to safety Husain Abdullah, first listed as a neck injury and now described as a concussion, provided an opportunity for Sorensen, who has logged more than half of the team’s total defensive snaps over the last two weeks.
He’s making the most of his appearances.
“Dan has done a really nice job in there,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He’s given us some real healthy snaps in there when Abdullah’s been down.”
Sorensen has been more likely to line up in the box, and the Chiefs see him with multiple skills.
“He’s got a little bit of linebacker and a little bit of safety mixed in there,” Reid said. “He’s a pretty good tackler … it looks like he’s a little huskier, stronger.”
Sorensen, who came to the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, is listed at 208 pounds, a few pounds heavier than last season. He made the team out of training camp but was assigned to the practice squad after the opener last season, returning at midseason and appearing in the team’s final eight games.
“He had the limited reps the first year, but you saw right away he had this innate ability to see things and do things pretty quickly, and that’s a big part of the job,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He’s got a little bit of what Husain has in that regard.”
Sorensen has been a mainstay on special teams, and now he is making his mark on the defense.
A week earlier, in the Chiefs’ victory at Oakland, Sorensen came up with his first career sack, dropping Derek Carr for a 7-yard loss. The importance of the moment was magnified two plays later when Sebastian Janikowski’s field-goal attempt bounced off the upright.
Sorensen’s play speaks to the depth developed by the Chiefs. The offensive line has been tested in that way all season, and now the defense is facing challenges with key injuries.
Linebacker Justin Houston’s knee injury opened the door for Dee Ford’s big game against the Chargers, and the Chiefs have had to absorb Mike DeVito’s missed time on the line because of concussion and shoulder issues.
But even with some new faces the Chiefs’ defense hasn’t missed a step, coming up with three fourth-quarter interceptions that led to the 14-point victory at Oakland, and holding the Chargers to a field goal for the second time this season.
“The more you play, the more comfortable you become, so it feels good,” Sorensen said. “I look at it as a learning experience, even within a game. The farther along a game progressed the better you feel.”
Sorensen has been credited with nine solo tackles, a quarterback hurry and a defended pass along with his sack. He added five tackles to his total as a member of nearly all of the Chiefs’ special teams, and his play on those units continues to be something of a calling card.
It’s all part of a season turnaround that could not be more abrupt. From a 1-5 start, the Chiefs will take a seven-game winning streak to Baltimore this weekend.
“We all knew we were better than what we had shown,” Sorensen said. “We also knew we weren’t far away from turning it around. It kind of became a motivator. It wasn’t a great feeling and you wanted to put in the extra work to turn things around.
“Everybody has contributed to that.”