KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (shoulder) and tight end Anthony Fasano did not practice Thursday, while wide receiver Donnie Avery (groin) continues to be limited.
Receiving options could prove an issue heading into Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
“I might have to suit up,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said Thursday.
Pederson was kidding, of course.
Avery returned to practice last week after a sports hernia procedure in early October, so he should be close to returning.
The Chiefs could turn to second-year pro Frankie Hammond Jr., who has one start this season, or rookie Albert Wilson in the event Avery and Jenkins aren’t available.
Kansas City’s offense doesn’t rely on a single dominant wide receiver, preferring to spread the ball around, and every player knows his specific role.
“Whoever we put out there has to go out there and play,” Pederson said. “We’re going against a fine defense, and then they’ve got to execute their game plan.”
Still, the potential of not having Fasano offers a different challenge.
Tight end Travis Kelce, who ranks second on the team in receptions and yards receiving, is a known commodity.
But the Chiefs could lean on recently signed tight end Phillip Supernaw to contribute immediately given Demetrius Harris (foot) is on injured reserve.
Regardless of circumstances or who’s on the field, it doesn’t appear the Chiefs are altering too much at the position from previous games.
“We’ve gone in every week with three tight ends and it should be no different this week,” Pederson said. “We’ll just see where it is at the end of the week.”
The Chiefs have faced mobile quarterbacks through nine regular-season games, but nothing like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has three 100-yard rushing efforts on the year.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton knows a big challenge awaits his defense, but hopes the Week 5 experience against San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will help. The Chiefs limited Kaepernick to 18 yards rushing on 10 carries.
“That’s a good calling card for us and we’ve had a couple of other mobile guys,” Sutton said.
Still, Seattle’s signal caller presents a unique test.
“I just don’t know if we’ve played anybody quite as quick as Russell Wilson,” Sutton said. “He’s got really, really good speed, but he has tremendous quickness. He can shake you and he makes it really challenging. He’s done that the entire year.”
COLQUITT’S NEW PROTECTOR
Rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson’s role is set to expand following running back Cyrus Gray’s season-ending torn ACL.
Wilson will continue contributing on offense, but he now takes over a critical role Gray held as punter Dustin Colquitt’s personal protector on special teams.
“He came in in the last game in an important situation,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said of Wilson. “We had two situations there where they went all-out rushes on us and he was able to handle that stuff, so we feel really good about Albert. For a rookie to be in that spot, in that situation, to come in without any reps the way he handled it, he did a really good job.”
Gray also served as a lead blocker during kickoff returns, but it doesn’t appear Wilson will be utilized in that fashion.
“We have a lot of other guys that can do other spots,” Toub said.
Rookie running back/returner De’Anthony Thomas made a questionable decision in Week 10 when he fielded a punt inside the 5-yard line instead of letting the ball bounce into the end zone for a touchback.
The Chiefs know the explosive capabilities Thomas brings to the table, and they don’t want to take away from that.
“I want him to stay aggressive,” Toub said. “I’m not going to rip him for being aggressive.”
Still, Toub said he wants Thomas to be aware of surroundings when deciding whether to field a punt that deep inside the Chiefs’ territory.
“He just needs to check,” Toub said. “If he’s down there inside the 5 and he has blue jerseys on him, let it go back for a touchback.”
Toub indicated the scenario from last week’s game was used at a teaching moment.
“We looked at the tape and saw the situation and he knows what he needs to do,” Toub said.
Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson projected as the starting right tackle heading for the regular season before he served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.
Stephenson has yet to start a game since his return to the active roster after Week 4.
“It was a situation obviously with the suspension four games at the start of the year and moving Ryan Harris out there to tackle,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said, “and Ryan’s done a good job. He’s done well and I guess at this stage in the season you don’t want to disrupt that chemistry a little bit.”
Pederson said the Chiefs will continue to utilize Stephenson as an extra lineman during short yardage and goal line situations.
But it doesn’t appear a return to the starting lineup or a change of positions for Stephenson or even backup center Eric Kush to guard is imminent.
“Just kind of keeping them in their spots right now,” Pederson said. “Kush is still growing as a center and he’s a fine center, still keeping them right there in their spot.”
The Chiefs announced Saturday’s Fall Classic, originally scheduled for play at Arrowhead Stadium, has been relocated to Northwest Missouri State University in anticipation of inclement weather.
The move comes at the recommendation of the Chiefs grounds crew to eliminate activity on the field prior to Sunday’s game.
Saturday’s forecast calls for wet snow conditions and below freezing temperatures, and the Chiefs will keep the field covered.
“We would like to express our thanks to Mel Tjeerdsma, Loren Ferré and both universities for their understanding and working with us to find a solution to this unpredictable situation,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said in a statement released by the team.