The Chiefs’ defense played a central role in the team’s AFC title game victory on Sunday. The unit will be shorthanded in the Super Bowl, however. Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu suffered a torn ACL in the win over the Ravens, per Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report.
Omenihu exited the game with a knee injury and was not able to return. More importantly, today’s update means he will not be available for the Super Bowl. The news deals a major blow to Kansas City’s pass rush given the role he had been playing in 2023, his debut campaign with the Chiefs.
The former fifth-rounder played in 11 regular season games with Kansas City, logging a career-high 56% snap share. Omenihu used that increased playing time to set new personal bests in a few categories, including tackles (28) and sacks (seven). He totaled a pair of forced fumbles during the season, and added another in the Chiefs’ postseason run. His impressive campaign has now come to an end, though.
Omenihu began his career with the Texans, failing to establish himself as a full-time starter. He was dealt to the 49ers midway through the 2021 season. In San Francisco, the Texas alum recorded 4.5 sacks in 26 games (adding another 3.5 in six postseason contests), showing his ability to serve as at least a complementary edge rush option. He joined the Chiefs in free agency on a two-year, $16MM deal. Instead of preparing for a title game against his former team, he will turn his attention to a lengthy recovery process.
The 26-year-old was issued a six-game suspension to start the season stemming from a domestic violence incident which took place during his time with the 49ers. His play upon return showed his value to the Chiefs’ defense, a unit which posted strong numbers in several categories this year. Kansas City’s offense has not been as prolific as usual during the Patrick Mahomes era this year, and the team will no doubt require a strong showing on defense against San Francisco.
With Omenihu out of the picture, the Chiefs will continue relying on Chris Jones as the anchor of their defensive front. Recent first-round picks George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah could be counted on in an additional capacity, although the latter has not played in the postseason to date. In any case, Kansas City’s build-up to Super Bowl LVIII has not started in ideal fashion.