KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first wave of reinforcements for the Chiefs could arrive Monday against the Denver Broncos, with center Mitch Morse likely to return to the starting lineup with right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and cornerback Steven Nelson game-day decisions.
The only dark cloud looking on the team’s injury report hovers around the knee of linebacker Justin Houston. The team rested Houston on Friday, with head coach Andy Reid connecting the caution to the veteran’s past knee surgery.
“He’s going to be fine,” Reid said following Friday’s practice. “He had that knee surgery and we’re just kind of monitoring it as we go here. I gave him some time for that thing just to settle down. I think he’ll be fine.”
Reid appeared less optimistic for Duvernay-Tardif, who continues his return from a sprained foot sustained in Week 4.
“Larry got some work in,” Reid said. “That will be a game-time deal with him.”
If Duvernay-Tardif cannot play, Zach Fulton seems mostly to slide into the right guard slot. Fulton filled in at center for Morse while he was out with a foot sprain. The Chiefs could also choose to continue using Cameron Erving at right guard, who started in Duvernay-Tardif’s absence.
Nelson’s return to the secondary would delivery a boost to the team’s beleaguered pass defense. The Chiefs cannot activate Nelson until Monday, which marks eight weeks following the date the team placed him on injured reserve.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day to make sure after they get done with their work that they’re okay,” Reid said when asked about Nelson. “I don’t want to lead you one way or another with it. I just want to see how they all finish up. But right now he looked good.”
The Broncos bring a much lengthier list of injuries in to Monday’s showdown. The team ruled out backup tackle and former Chiefs lineman Donald Stephenson on Saturday. But the team lists four starters questionable, including defensive end Derek Wolfe and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Head coach Vance Joseph called Sanders a game-time decision.
“We’ll see,” Joseph said. “He’s gotten better, fast. He’s day-to-day, so we’ll see how he feels on gameday.”
Denver gets a reinforcement of its own with the return of linebacker Shane Ray. Like Nelson, Ray started the season on injured reserve and Monday marks the first day he can return to the active roster. Former Missouri Tigers linebacker adds to the team’s pass-rush depth opposite All-Pro Von Miller.
“With Shane being back, he should get some one-on-ones with Von opposite of him.” Joseph said. “If we get double chipped it’s down to three-man routes, which we should win with coverage. Having a good player back is always good.”
OUT: T Donald Stephenson
QUESTIONABLE: DE Derek Wolfe, WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Virgil Green and ILB Todd Davis
Did not participate in practice: ILB Todd Davis (ankle), WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) and T Donald Stephenson (calf)
Limited participation: DE Derek Wolfe (hand/foot)
Full participation: RB Jamaal Charles (not injury related), NT Domata Peko (not injury related), CB Aqib Talib (not injury related), TE Virgil Green (shoulder), TE A.J. Derby (shoulder), WR Cody Latimer (knee), QB Paxton Lynch (right shoulder), WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle), S Will Parks (shoulder) and T Menelik Watson (calf)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
QUESTIONABLE: RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Did not participate in practice: LB Justin Houston (knee)
Limited participation: RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (knee)
Full participation: C Mitch Morse (foot), DT Bennie Logan (knee), RB Charcandrick West (concussion) and WR Albert Wilson (knee)