KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs running back Spencer Ware sustained a torn posterior cruciate ligament along with additional damage in his right knee that may require season-ending surgery.
Ware also sustained damage to the posterolateral corner of his knee, according to Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. Sometimes referred to as “the dark corner” of the knee, the PLC is made up of ligaments and tendons that stabilize the knee in response to directional forces.
“At this point in time, our medical staff believes that he needs season-ending surgery to correct that problem,” Burkholder said.
Ware won’t have surgery, however, until all the medical alternative and options are considered that might save the season for the 25-year-old back. The ligament damage alone would not normally end Ware’s season, Burkholder said.
“With that ligament often times with rehab you can play,” he explained.
But the damage to the back corner of the knee is more problematic and may require a surgical repair.
“Like with all these significant injuries, we’ll exhaust all of our options and look at second opinions,” Burholder said, “and then do what’s best for Spencer’s knee and his career.”
Ware entered the 2017 season as the incumbent starter for the first time in his career. He started two games in relief of Jamaal Charles in 2015, rushing for 403 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Charles entered the 2016 season recovering his own knee surgery, and Ware made the most of his opportunity. He rushed for 921 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games a year ago.
“He came back in great shape, was looking forward to having another real good season,” Reid said. “He’ll be back and going strong.”
Ware’s injury likely thrusts rookie Kareem Hunt into the lineup as starting running back, according to head coach Andy Reid.
“We’ll rotate all of them,” Reid said. “But he’ll probably be working with the ones.”
Hunt took over at running back with the first-team offense against Seattle following Ware’s departure. He rushed for 39 yards on nine carries. Hunt tallied 79 yards on 18 carries through the first three preseason games along with four catches for 32 yards.
Quarterback Alex Smith said the true test of a real rookie running back rests with proving they can run the ball and handle the offensive game plan in real game conditions, not just on the practice field in training camp.
Hunt’s preseason gives his teammates on offensive confidence he’s up to the challenge.
“I certainly think Kareem’s shown that,” Smith said. “I know the guys feel really good about him in there, I know I do.”
The Chiefs also have C.J. Spiller and Charcandrick West in the backfield. Both players have performed well in training camp and the preseason, according to Reid.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Spencer and how important he was to our team, but that’s a position where we have a little strength,” Reid said. “We should be okay.”