Two games remain in the NFL preseason, and for the Chiefs that’s probably going to mean two more games without some of the marquee players.
On a day when outside linebacker Tamba Hali returned to practice on a limited basis, joining running back Jamaal Charles who started dipping his toe in the water last week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he’d need to be 100 percent confident in their health and conditioning to see either on the field Saturday at Chicago or the following week against Green Bay.
And Reid isn’t there yet.
“Only if I feel if they’re right,” Reid said when asked if either needed preseason snaps to get acclimated to game speed. “But I’m not going to stick them out there if there’s a question on it.”
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The idea is to have the players ready for the season opener, Sept. 11 against San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs closed training camp in St. Joseph last week without Hali participating in a practice. He underwent knee surgery after last season. Hali recorded 6 1/2 sacks last year, one behind team leader Justin Houston, who continues to recover from his offseason knee procedure.
Hali was removed from the physically unable to perform list on Monday.
The Chiefs limited Hali’s practice time last season, which ended with Hali’s fifth consecutive Pro Bowl selection.
Charles tore the ACL in his right knee in the fifth game last season, missing the majority of the year for the second time in his eight-year career for the same injury. In 2011, he tore his the ACL in his left knee.
Also not expected back this week is safety Eric Berry, who continues to miss practice after he and the Chiefs couldn’t agree on a long-contract.
As for Berry, the Chiefs want to see Berry’s condition when he reports.
“I think it’s important to see what kind of shape he’s in and then gradually bring him back in the football speed of things,” Reid said. “I don’t think it’s the end of the world if he doesn’t play in the last preseason game. The important thing is to put eyes on him … so we don’t put him at risk out there.”
The absence of the defensive players doesn’t change anything for cornerback Marcus Peters. Responsibilities don’t change based on the depth chart.
“It really doesn’t matter to us,” Peters said. “It’s just next guy up until those guys get back.”
The preseason structure also works against a possible return for the veterans. Typically, starters get their most playing time in the third preseason game.
The fourth preseason game is usually filled with reserves. NFL rosters will be trimmed to 75 players next Tuesday, two days before the preseason finale.
The Chiefs have been able to take long looks at others in the absence of its stars. Dee Ford and Frank Zombo have started at outside linebacker in the first two preseason games. Daniel Sorensen, Ron Parker and rookies D.J White and Eric Murray have made starts in the secondary.
Spencer Ware has been the workhorse at running back, especially after Charcandrick West was injured in the preseason opener. That presented more opportunities for Knile Davis and second-year pro Darrin Reaves in Saturday’s game against the Rams.