Chiefs QB Alex Smith returns while other injury question remain

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs coach said he expects quarterback Alex Smith to return to he lineup this weekend when his team travels to meet the Carolina Panthers.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith looks downfield for a target during the team's 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 23, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium. (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith looks downfield for a target during the team’s 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 23, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium. (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

“He’ll be back in, as long as there’s no setbacks,” Reid said.

But while Smith may be back, doubt remains regarding injuries to running back Spencer Ware and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The team also faces a decision this week regarding linebacker Justin Houston.

Smith skipped Sunday’s 19-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The quarterback sustained two hits to the helmet last week against Indianapolis that knocked him from the game. The team held him from the lineup as a precaution, even though Smith passed the league’s concussion protocol twice and received clearance from an independent neurologist to play.

Reid said the quarterback showed no ill effects in practice last week, calling it business as usual for Smith.

“Things like headaches or dizziness, there was none of that,” Reid said. “He went out and functioned well on the scout team part of it. There was no hesitation when bodies were flying around him, there was no flinching. They were all positive signs.”

Ware suffered a concussion during the Indianapolis game, and has yet to clear the league’s concussion protocol. Reid remained unsure if Ware could be available against the Panthers Sunday.

“There’s a good chance he is,” Reid said.

Maclin left Sunday’s game against Jacksonville during the first offensive series, playing just two snaps. The wide receiver aggravated a sore groin that slowed him in practice last week.

Reid called it a day-to-day injury, but said the issue could keep Maclin out for Carolina or beyond.

“It could, it easily could yeah,” Reid said. “It’s day-to-day, you just have to see. We’ll see how he’s doing.”

The team also faces a deadline this week to activate linebacker Justin Houston. His 21-day window to practice while remaining on the physically unable to perform list ends Tuesday. At that point the team must add Houston to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve.

“You have to activate him,” Reid said when asked if the team planned to add him to the roster. “Unless something changes, I’d probably say yes.”

But whether Houston returns to game action remains unclear. Reid said the team sees no hurry to rush the veteran back faster than necessary.

“Obviously he’s been cleared to play, but there’s more to it than that,” Reid said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re right and you have opportunities to practice and get yourself back.”

Reid said Houston looked good in practice, however.

“He’s been a beast on this thing,” the coach said. “It’s been fun to watch, but tough for him to push through. He’s done great with it though.”

STOPPING THE RUN

The Chiefs defense surrendered a season-high 205 rushing yards to the Jaguars. Jacksonville entered the game ranked 30th in the league in rushing with just 73 yards per game.

Poor tackling, lack of physical play and poor gap management all seemed to play a role in the defensive breakdown, Reid said.

“It was probably a little bit of everything in there,” he explained. “We’ve got to do a better job in a lot of different areas. We’ll get that fixed. There’s some things we can do to tighten that up a little bit.”

TEAM DISCIPLINE

The Chiefs suffered a notable breakdown in discipline against the Jaguars. Tight end Travis Kelce earned an ejection after disputing a non-call for pass interference in the end zone, and cornerback Marcus Peters could face league discipline as well after punting a ball into the stands following a fumble recovery.

Reid encourages his players to express themselves naturally, but emphasized the need for common sense.

“You can’t do things that are ridiculous,” Reid said, “even though he probably had an opportunity there to gripe a little bit.”

Reid suggested the refs may have made an error.

“The officials are human beings here too,” Reid said. “You got to respect the job they do, even though you might question if they were really wrong there.”

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.


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