Chiefs DE Frank Clark admits injuries, off-field trouble have impacted his season

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Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark hasn’t had the greatest start to the 2021 NFL season. Through seven weeks, he has only appeared in four games and he has yet to record a sack with only five tackles on the year. You have to go all the way back to Week 16 of 2020 to find Clark’s last regular-season sack.

On Friday, the veteran pass-rusher opened up about his struggles, admitting that injuries and his offseason arrests have played an impact.

“I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff,” Clark told reporters. “Everybody goes through a lot of things in this life, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to put a lot stuff to the side. Then, when it’s time to deal with things you’ve got to deal with it. But I’ve been going through some real-life stuff, those things are just as important as football, taking care of my family and my job.”

Clark was arrested twice this offseason in his hometown of Los Angeles, both times for possession of an assault weapon. He’s since been charged for both arrests with an upcoming hearing on Jan. 17. The uncertainty surrounding his future caused a lot of anxiety initially, but he’s feeling like he’s better off now.

“I feel like I’m in a way better place than before,” Clark said. “Before, things just kind of hit me real fast, and at the end of the day, you’ve kind of got to put things on the back burner because I’ve got a job to do here as well with the Chiefs. I still also have a life that I have to make sure isn’t going to shambles because of some decisions I made off the field. It’s just a focus level you have to have, you have to be able to separate the two. When you have your job, you have your job and things you have to do on that side. Then, when you’ve got things in your personal life, you’ve got to be able to have it well-balanced.”

Things are probably a bit more well-balanced now with Clark having a better understanding of what he’s up against. The off-field situations haven’t been the only adversity he faced to start the season, though. Clark’s struggles began just as he finally got his feet back under him at training camp.

“I kind of got hurt at a weird point in the season,” Clark said. “It was kind of the second, second-and-a-half week of camp. Where it was like, ‘Damn, I was just kind of getting in that groove.’ That camp groove, battling through the pain and all the stuff that happens in camp. The heavy legs, I just got my legs back in camp and then it was like, ‘Boom, injury.'”

Clark took a few days off of practice before trying to return from his tweak and ultimately worsened the injury. It forced him out of practice for several weeks. That was just the tip of the iceberg for Clark, though.

“I come back and I’m practicing, trying to get right, trying to get right and then it happened on the other side,” Clark said. “And I’m like, ‘Wow.’ I’ve spent probably a month and a half almost not doing no true running, no true pass-rushing. . . Not doing no lower-body work. So now all the work I spent in the off-season, it basically went to waste because I spent seven weeks not doing nothing lower-body. I basically got to work overtime to get back.”

No. 55 says he has been using game day not only to practice and get his repetitions in, but also to get his lower body conditioning up to par. As a vocal leader on the defense, he was anxious to get back to the game and be at his best to help out his teammates through their early-season struggles.

“Just buckle down, get right and get healthy,” He said. “Because that’s how you can help your teammates the most.”

Clark feels he’s been able to get right both mentally and physically. While he’s still chasing that first sack of the season, he credits a strong foundation of family, friends and teammates for getting him to this point after a tumultuous start to 2021.

“My family is one,” Clark said. “My coaches, my teammates. I feel like I have a strong foundation — I know it. I feel like if you’ve got a strong foundation. . . friends that keep it real with you that aren’t always going to tell you the right things, but the things that you can do better to help yourself, I feel like that’s how you become a better person.”

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