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Kansas City Chiefs: Branden Albert Injury Status and How it Affects Team

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Aside from a few bumps and bruises, the Kansas City Chiefs have been relatively healthy during their 6-0 start to the season.

The team has rallied around the few injuries sustained to minimize any potential negative impact incurred by certain players missing any game time. But when scouring the roster to find guys who are deemed irreplaceable, left tackle Branden Albert comes to mind.

Albert suffered two injuries during Kansas City's 24-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday: one to his left elbow, and another to his left knee -- which ultimately forced him out for the rest of the game.

The good news is that head coach Andy Reid expects Albert to be available for Sunday's home contest against the Houston Texans.

"I think he'll be OK," Reid said on Monday. "It doesn't seem too severe."

The bad news, however, is that these nagging injuries oftentimes become much bigger issues as the season progresses. Should Albert miss a significant amount of time, Kansas City loses a key veteran presence that is heavily leaned on to anchor a young group of offensive linemen -- particularly a struggling Eric Fisher, who the Chiefs made the No. 1 overall pick in last April's NFL draft.

If there is one area to point to where Kansas City can improve most, its offensive line is it. And without Albert, this group would take a huge step back.

The Chiefs have allowed a modest 16 sacks through six games this season, but Alex Smith's above average pocket awareness is what is keeping that total from being much higher. And an inconsistent rushing attack -- though still ranked 12th in the league, averaging 119 yards per game -- is down from last year's fifth-best mark of 149.7 yards per game in just under three less carries per contest (31.2 carries for a 4.8 yard average in 2012 to 28.5 and 4.2, respectively, this season).

While Donald Stephenson -- who started eight games during his rookie season last year -- is seen as a viable replacement at left tackle, depth would then become a concern. And with Fisher's learning curve looming, along with the overall inexperience of this group, Kansas City can't afford a prolonged absence from Albert.

Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country. Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel

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