KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Opposing running backs tearing through the Chiefs defense became a weekly occurrence in 2014.
The Chiefs allowed 127.2 yards rushing per game to finish ranked 28th in the NFL.
But the defense played without inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito, both of whom suffered season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon injuries in Week 1.
Coach Andy Reid appeared optimistic they would be available when the Chiefs report for the offseason voluntary workout program in April.
“I think they will be,” Reid said. “We’ll just see how things roll there. You remember Phase One if you’re considering that, that’s really just conditioning, that’s not something where you’re on the field. Phase Two, you’re still conditioning, you’re in the class. Phase Three, now you’re out there and that doesn’t happen until later on, so you buy a couple of extra months there.”
Reid’s projection for Johnson and DeVito falls within the average recovery timeline from a ruptured Achilles, according to certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts of the St. Vincent Health Systems in Little Rock, Ark.
Stotts, who holds PES and CES certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, didn’t personally evaluate Johnson or DeVito. Instead, he offered an opinion based on his background.
Stotts said a player’s recovery is dependent on numerous factors, including position played and overall conditioning. He adds the typical recovery window is “eight to 10 months, barring setbacks.”
That timeline falls within Reid’s expectations considering April would leave Johnson and DeVito eight months removed from their respective injuries.
Johnson and DeVito have been observed in the Chiefs locker room in recent weeks out of walking boots and moving around without the use of crutches.
Both players have spent time at the Chiefs training facility for rehabilitation, and their work impressed Reid.
“They’ve been working out together here rehabbing,” Reid said, “and they’ve been challenging each other like crazy, which is a neat thing to see go on.”
The Chiefs have a policy that prohibits media from talking to players on injured reserve even if that player is present during open locker room media sessions.
So while Johnson and DeVito were present Monday, the Chiefs didn’t make either player available to reporters to discuss their recovery progress.
But hearing Johnson and DeVito were no longer using crutches and walking without noticeable limps offered optimism to Stotts both players should be available for the regular season.
“In some cases it takes almost a full year to be 100 percent from a ruptured Achilles,” Stotts said. “They can ease the transition during OTAs (organized teams activities) and the summer and progressively increase workloads. It’s very realistic they’ll be ready for the regular season.”