Examining Chiefs’ tackle depth following Lucas Niang injury

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  • Kansas City Chiefs
    Kansas City Chiefs
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  • Lucas Niang
    Lucas Niang
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  • Orlando Brown Jr.
    Orlando Brown Jr.
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  • Prince Tega Wanogho
    Prince Tega Wanogho
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  • Joe Thuney
    Joe Thuney
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The Kansas City Chiefs took a hit to their offensive line depth during the Week 17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team started off the game on the wrong foot, announcing that left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was questionable with a calf injury just moments before kickoff. That injury has been deemed minor after further testing was done. The blow to the offensive line depth for Kansas City was an injury to Chiefs’ second-year tackle Lucas Niang.

In just six snaps filling in at left tackle, Niang suffered a season-ending patellar tendon tear. The 2020 opt-out started nine games for the team this season, mostly at right tackle. He missed time earlier in the season with a rib injury too. Thankfully, the earlier injury by Niang has the Chiefs prepared to handle an injury at the right tackle position. That said, some things could change over the next few weeks without Niang in the picture.

Below we’ll take a look at the Chiefs’ current offensive tackle depth and how a minor injury to Brown and a season-ending injury to Niang could impact things moving forward.

Projected depth chart

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Pos.

First

Second

Third

Fourth

LT

Orlando Brown Jr.

Prince Tega Wanogho

Joe Thuney

LG

Joe Thuney

Nick Allegretti

C

Creed Humphrey

Austin Blythe

RG

Trey Smith

Andrew Wylie

RT

Andrew Wylie

Kyle Long

Reminder: These are our projections at Chiefs Wire. You can find the Chiefs’ “unofficial” depth chart for Week 18 below.

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If Orlando Brown Jr. remains sidelined, who will play left tackle?

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Should we take the Chiefs’ latest depth chart at face value, Prince Tega Wanogho will be the starting left tackle in Week 18 if Orlando Brown Jr. remains sidelined by his calf strain. The only reason PTW didn’t play in Week 17 is that he was declared inactive before pre-game warmups, which is when Brown suffered his injury.

This is what the offensive line would look like with PTW at left tackle:

LT

LG

C

RG

RT

Prince Tega Wanogho

Joe Thuney

Creed Humphrey

Trey Smith

Andrew Wylie

The most surprising outcome here would be if the Chiefs kept Thuney at left tackle and went with the jumbled offensive line they used in Week 17. This is what that group looked like:

LT

LG

C

RG

RT

Joe Thuney

Nick Allegretti

Creed Humphrey

Trey Smith

Andrew Wylie

Even Thuney said he hadn’t seen much action at the tackle position in the pros. As good as he performed, it’s clearly not his best position. They might be best off playing Thuney at left guard and keeping that interior strong. It’d also be beneficial to have Thuney in there, helping out the first-time starter in PTW.

Likeliest offensive line combination moving forward. . .

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

With Orlando Brown Jr.’s calf strain coming back as only a minor injury, I think it’s likely that we see him back in the lineup sooner than later. If he misses time, it’s possible he only misses the regular-season finale in Week 18. Moving forward fans should probably see an offensive line combination they’ve seen for a good portion of the season:

LT

LG

C

RG

RT

Orlando Brown Jr.

Joe Thuney

Creed Humphrey

Trey Smith

Andrew Wylie

Thuney’s performance at left tackle in Week 17 probably gives the Chiefs some confidence moving forward with their tackle situation. Knowing that he can play that spot in case of an emergency means that we could see a player like Kyle Long active as a result. Should an injury happen on the right side, Long could fill in at right tackle. Should an injury happen on the left side, you’d see Thuney flex out to left tackle and Nick Allegretti come off the bench to play left guard.

Expect a lot of different players to get repetitions in practice this week so that Andy Heck can get an idea of the best combination of players to have active on gameday in Week 18 and as we head into the playoffs.

The wild card? Mike Remmers

AP Photo/Daniel Kucin Jr.

The Chiefs do have a wild card of sorts who could alter what the tackle depth chart looks like for Kansas City. After missing several weeks due to a nagging knee injury, Mike Remmers was placed on injured reserve by the Chiefs. The team also recently restored him to injured reserve from the Reserve/COVID-19 list after he tested positive for the virus while on injured reserve.

Remmers is eligible to return from injured reserve, but will he? Our last word on his status came ahead of Week 13, with Andy Reid explaining he wasn’t ready to return. That didn’t equate to him ruling out a return for Remmers, though.

We’ll find out more about Remmers’ status on Wednesday during Reid’s media availability. The veteran offensive tackle started two games for the Chiefs earlier this season at the right tackle position. He also started the majority of the 2020 NFL season at right tackle for Kansas City.

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