KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs’ offensive line passed the initial test against the formidable front seven of the Houston Texans in Week 1.
Making the entire unit’s performance against the Texans even more impressive surrounded a new starter at every position from the 2014 season.
Donald Stephenson drew the start at left tackle, Ben Grubbs at left tackle, rookie Mitch Morse at center, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif at right guard and Jah Reid, who started at right tackle in place of Eric Fisher, who was dealing with a high-ankle sprain.
The spotlight, of course, fell on Morse, Duvernay-Tardif and Reid.
“I think as a whole offensive unit, we played real well,” Morse said. “The offensive line came out and just executed the game plan. We took it one play at a time and we came out there and had a really good first game.”
Outside of Texan defensive end J.J Watt’s nine tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits, the Chiefs’ offensive line held its own.
“That’s what happens when you have good players, good coaches and good play calls,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “We had a lot of plays where it was easy for us to play fast and I think that helped us as a young o-lineman to a new season to play where you don’t have to think too much.
“You just go out there and be aggressive, and then because you’re aggressive, it slowed the defense down and you get into their head. Now you can get into more complicated stuff and I think the play calling was pretty good, too. I think everybody did their job.”
The Chiefs don’t have the benefit of a full week to prepare for Broncos outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware when the two teams meet Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium
But the experiences gained from matching up against Watt, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney only helps as the Chiefs are set for the dangerous Denver Broncos’ defensive front.
“Of course, you play against the best because I think that’s how you improve yourself,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “We gained a lot of confidence as a unit going out there and being pretty aggressive in run blocks and in the pass game against the Texans. I think that makes us feel more confident and it builds up that chemistry between players.”
Reid, who joined the Chiefs a week before the season opener after being released by the Baltimore Ravens, agreed.
“This is a great group of guys,” Reid said. “I couldn’t ask to be in a better situation or have better people supporting me, so I was very grateful for that. It worked out.”
SHORT WEEK BLUES
A majority of players around the NFL aren’t fans of the short week when it comes to Thursday night games.
But the good news is the Chiefs will get it out of the way early in the season, which could offer an advantage as the season progresses.
“Potentially, for sure, I think so,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “Much different now from a physical and mental standpoint, you probably are fresher than Week 12 when guys are a little more banged up and you maybe need those couple of more days to get ready for Sunday versus having to play on a Thursday. So yeah, potentially.”
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning concedes the challenge of a short week, pointing out the road team faces an additional obstacle.
“You kind of lose half a day having to travel on Wednesday,” Manning said. “Of course, we got to play at home on Sunday whereas the Chiefs had to travel on Sunday, so maybe it evens out. It’s a challenge for both teams, no question about it, but every team has to deal with it at one point in the season.”
Manning agreed with Smith on getting the Thursday game out of the way with 14 games left to go in the regular season.
“I think it’s probably a good thing that it’s early in the season playing on such a short week,” Manning said. “It’s important in trying to get ready as quickly as possible, both physically and mentally.”
NEW TOUCHDOWN SONG
The people have spoken and a winner declared.
The Chiefs on Wednesday announced “Hey, Kansas City!” by David George & A Crooked Mile as the winner of online votes for the team’s new touchdown celebration song at Arrowhead Stadium.
George’s touchdown song will incorporate the popular “You, You, You” fan chant.
“Hey, Kansas City!” earned 45.9 percent of the total vote since voting began on Aug. 21, according to the announcement.
“Let Me Clear my Throat” by DJ Kool finished second with 31.9 percent of the vote, while “Song 2” by Blur totaled 22.2 percent.