BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Behind Enemy Lines: Chiefs expect to have DE Frank Clark for Cardinals game
Behind Enemy Lines brings you the key storylines and latest news for the Arizona Cardinals’ opponents each week this season.
DE Frank Clark returns to practice after missing time with illness – Friday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pro Bowl defensive end Frank Clark returned to practice with the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday and coach Andy Reid said he should be available when the defending AFC West champions open their season at Arizona.
Clark missed Thursday’s practice with an illness. He also missed two days of work the previous week with an illness.
Reid said that everybody on the roster should be “good to go, unless there’s a setback with Frank or something,” when the Chiefs visit the Cardinals on Sunday. Their only significant injury throughout training camp was to backup tight end Blake Bell, who is now on injured reserve following a hip procedure.
Reid also said he has not heard from the NFL about any potential disciplinary action for Clark, who pleaded no contest this week in Los Angeles to two counts of misdemeanor possession of an assault weapon from separate incidents last year.
Clark was sentenced to one year of probation and 40 hours of community service.
— The Associated Press
Chiefs to lean on youngsters on both sides of the ball – Wednesday
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the face of Kansas City, and his MVP chances every season put the Chiefs on a short-list of potential Super Bowl contenders.
But as they enter a Week 1 road game against the Arizona Cardinals, everything around him gets the attention.
Defensively, it’s a matter of how a minimum of three rookie draft picks might succeed or fail with immediate playing time.
“They’re going to play at least three and probably four or even five rookies, (who are) going to get significant playing time Sunday,” ESPN Chiefs beat reporter Adam Teicher told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday.
“They have new pieces as well as veteran players who are new to the Chiefs. Even the defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, has made some references over the last few months: They’re racing the clock to get ready on defense for the regular season.”
First-round pick Trent McDuffie (No. 21 overall) is listed as a starting cornerback, and third-rounder Leo Chenal (No. 103) is listed as a starting linebacker.
Defensive end George Karlaftis (No. 30) should get meaningful run in the defensive line rotation, while second-round choice Bryan Cook (No. 62) at safety and cornerbacks Joshua Williams (No. 135) and Jaylen Watson (No. 243) are depth pieces in the secondary.
Throw in the loss of safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was replaced by former Houston Texans Justin Reid, and there’s more change to consider on the defensive backend.
While defensive end Frank Clark and defensive tackle Chris Jones bolster the returning players, there are quite a few questions for a defense that might be limited in the wrinkles it can toss out there in Week 1, especially against what should be a ready-to-roll passing attack led by a group of Cardinals pretty familiar with one another.
“The Chiefs were 29th in the league in sacks last year,” Teicher said. “I don’t see any way they make it back to the AFC Championship Game if that’s the case again this year.
“I think the Chiefs have the pieces to be a competent defense, but are they going to be ready for Sunday, are they going to be ready for a challenge like a quarterback like Kyler Murray? I don’t know that.”
All the defensive newness in Kansas City is obviously secondary news compared to the offensive losses from a year ago.
The Chiefs lost leading rusher Darrel Williams to the Cardinals — he was also fifth on the team in receiving yards — and more importantly leading receiver Tyreek Hill.
It’ll be a replacement-by-committee approach for the speedy Hill.
Former Steeler JuJu Smith-Schuster and former Packer Marquez Valdes-Scantling join returner Mecole Hardman and rookie second-round pick Skyy Moore as the top-four receivers to help out prolific tight end Travis Kelce in the passing game.
“(The) top-four they feel like is pretty solid. There’s no Tyreek Hill in that group but maybe they can make up for it in the numbers,” Teicher said.