Mitch Morse

Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL

Being a first-year starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes will bring some risk to the Chiefs‘ outlook Alex Smith did not. But the potential reward looks to be much greater. Andy Reid acknowledges the 2017 first-round pick will experience the usual issues adjusting to NFL starter life, but the sixth-year Chiefs coach made it clear he doesn’t want to deprive Mahomes of playmaking opportunities his skill set could create.

You surely don’t want to stifle that at all. One thing that he is blessed with is he has good vision, so you don’t ever want to stifle that and put him in a box with that. Allow him to see,” Reid said from Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. “Is there going to be a hiccup here or there? Yeah there’s going to be a hiccup here or there, but you don’t want to stifle that at all.”

Reid added that Mahomes, viewed as a raw but potentially special arm talent out of Texas Tech as a prospect last year, is farther along this year compared to where Smith was in 2013. With the addition of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have also outfitted Mahomes with a better collection of skill-position talent than Smith (or possibly any previous Kansas City quarterback) received.

Here’s the latest out of western Missouri:

  • While the Chiefs’ offense looks capable of being one of the NFL’s best units, Kansas City’s defense has plenty of questions. A key one will be the status of their injury-prone edge rushers. Justin Houston enters camp healthy and is signed long-term, but Dee Ford may only be back because an injury left him unable to pass a March physical. His $8.718MM fifth-year option vested, but Ford realizes he’s under pressure to perform this season after a career that’s seen just one productive year (2016, when he had a Chiefs-most 10 sacks). The Chiefs also drafted edge defenders in each of the past two second rounds, in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks (the latter of whom K.C. traded up to acquire). “Everyone’s seen flashes of what I can do. This is the opportunity to really (show it) for 16 games,” Ford said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “In order to be a great player you have to be consistent. You can’t just be good (like 2016 in) those first 10 games or so before I got hurt. Everybody was like, ‘That’s the guy we expected,’ and then I got hurt. … This is the time to put it all together.”
  • Eli Rogers left his Chiefs visit Monday without a deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Rogers will now meet with the Browns, who have his three-year OC on staff in Todd Haley. The Raiders have also scheduled a summit with the slot receiver. Behind Watkins and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson and the recently re-signed De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Despite a 2016 ACL tear hijacking both of Parker Ehinger‘s first two NFL seasons, he still might be the frontrunner to work as the Chiefs’ starting left guard, Nate Taylor of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati two years ago, Ehinger opened his rookie year as a starter but missed all but one game last season. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey represent his primary competitors, per Taylor, who adds that Cameron Erving could linger here as well if he cannot unseat fourth-year center Mitch Morse.
  • Like Ford, Spencer Ware‘s been cleared to begin training camp without a PUP list stay, but the 2016 starter won’t automatically be given the backup job, per Taylor. Charcandrick West remains a factor and scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup last season. West and Ware will battle for the backup role, just as they did in 2015 when they vied for time behind a then-healthy Jamaal Charles.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Mack, Chiefs

Tony Sparano changed the Raiders‘ culture during his time in Oakland, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Sparano, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, didn’t win when he was at the helm of the Raiders, but he earned the respect of his players through his hard work and love of the game.

He is up close and personal and blunt,” defensive end Justin Tuck once said. “He treats like you a man. I like his coaching style. … He is honest. There is no B.S. with Coach Sparano.”

Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in 19 seasons and he touched innumerable lives during his years on the sidelines. Success is largely measured by wins and losses in football, but Sparano achieved a great deal even when the record of his team did not show it.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • There’s reason to believe that Khalil Mack could take an aggressive approach towards his negotiations with the Raiders, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. Corry notes that Mack is represented by Joel Segal, who represented running back Chris Johnson‘s during his holdout with the Titans in 2011. If Mack has the same resolve as Johnson, the Raiders may not see him until he gets a new deal. For reference, Johnson’s holdout in 2011 was not resolved until early September.
  • Good news for the Chiefs. Center Mitch Morse, linebacker Dee Ford, and running back Spencer Ware are expected to practice with the team and will not go on the PUP list to start camp (via the Associated Press). “All those guys, everybody else is good,” head coach Andy Reid said. “Again I just want to see on the field and we’ll kind of monitor as it goes but, yeah, they all should be ready to go.”
  • Broncos linebacker Shane Ray received some unexpected good news this week. He won’t have to undergo another wrist surgery and the team believes that he is not in danger of missing games.
  • Earl Thomas to the Chargers? Don’t bet on it.

Chiefs Place C Mitch Morse On IR

The Chiefs will have to make their playoff push without their starting center in the lineup. On Friday, the team announced that Morse is headed to injured reserve with a foot injury. Cornerback Keith Reaser has been promoted from the practice squad to take his place on the roster. Mitch Morse (vertical)

Without Morse, the Chiefs will be forced to put fourth-year pro Zach Fulton in the starting lineup. Swingman Cameron Erving will serve as Fulton’s primary backup.

Morse, 25, first suffered the injury in the Chiefs’ Week 2 game against the Eagles. He returned in late October, but the issue flared up again in the Chiefs’ recent loss to the Jets. Morse was carted off the field in that game and had to be held out of Sunday’s win over the Raiders.

The loss of Morse comes at a particularly bad time as the offensive line has to contend with the Chargers’ tenacious pass rush.

They’re playing very well right now,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week (via the Chargers’ website). “Their pass rush is tremendous right now. It was good against us. Look at our third downs the last time we played them; they got after us. They’re playing at a very high level, and the secondary, they don’t do a lot but they do it very well. They have a great defensive coordinator. Gus does a great job there. They’re in good hands.”

The Chiefs have a 64% chance of winning the division, according to the playoff odds calculated by the New York Times. Of course, those odds decrease significantly if they lose on Saturday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Hawks, 49ers, Chiefs, Broncos

Jimmy Graham isn’t a lock to be ready when the Seahawks face the Titans on Sunday after going down with an ankle injury, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Seattle has scored only 21 points through two games, and Graham has contributed to that offensive ineptitude by posting just four catches for nine total yards. If Graham is out next week, the Seahawks will turn to Luke Willson and Nick Vannett at tight end.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions, with a focus on injury news:

  • The 49ers will be without safety Eric Reid on Thursday night as he recovers from a PCL injury, and the 25-year-old defensive back will likely miss additional games, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, including Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Luckily, Reid won’t require surgery on his injury knee, limiting the period of his absence. Reid, who’s playing in his contract season, missed six games in 2016 following a biceps tear.
  • Center Mitch Morse suffered a foot sprain during Sunday’s Chiefs game, but an MRI revealed that he won’t require surgery, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Nevertheless, Morse will be sidelined for a “few weeks” as he recovers, per Rapoport. Morse, 25, has started 33 contests in two-plus years with Kansas City, but the club will now be forced to turn to other options. Zach Fulton took over at the pivot yesterday, while recent trade acquisition Cameron Erving could also be a candidate for snaps. The Chiefs face the Chargers, Redskins, Texans, and Steelers over the next month.
  • The Broncos are breathing a sigh of relief — after initially fearing rookie left tackle Garett Bolles broke his foot on Sunday, Denver learned that Bolles has only a bone bruise, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bolles is now considered week-to-week, which almost assuredly means he’ll be sidelined for the Broncos’ Week 3 contest against the Bills. Both Donald Stephenson and Allen Barbre played left tackle in Bolles’ absence yesterday, and both will likely be options for Denver going forward.

Chiefs Sign Six Draft Picks

The Chiefs have signed six of their nine draft picks, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Center Mitch Morse (second round), inside linebacker Ramik Wilson (fourth round), inside linebacker D.J. Alexander (fifth round), and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (sixth round) have agreed to contracts, sources told Paylor. Also signing contracts were tight end James O’Shaughnessy (fifth round) and receiver Da’Ron Brown (seventh round), according to the NFL’s transaction report.

Noticeably absent from the list is first round cornerback Marcus Peters. Kansas City also needs to sign its third round picks, wide receiver Chris Conley and cornerback Steven Nelson.