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Chiefs’ injuries on defense could give Packers offense better matchups on SNF

Three defensive starters could miss the game against the Packers, including KC’s two best defensive linemen.

San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are no strangers to injuries. No team is around the midpoint of an NFL season, but the Packers have seen a few critical contributors miss time in recent weeks. Whether the injuries come to starters, like top receiver Davante Adams or stellar rookie safety Darnell Savage, or depth contributors — tight end Robert Tonyan comes to mind — every team has

However, the Kansas City Chiefs appear to be the worse off of these two teams heading into their week eight clash on Sunday Night Football. While quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the highest-profile player facing the prospect of missing this game, the Chiefs’ defense has four major contributors who have yet to practice this week.

Two of those players, defensive tackle Chris Jones and cornerback Kendall Fuller, missed last Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos with groin and thumb injuries, respectively. And with both being unable to practice yet this week, there appears a high probability that they will miss this week’s game as well.

Jones, a fourth-year pro, has become one of the NFL’s premier interior pass-rushers. A second-round draft pick out of Mississippi State, Jones had a very good sophomore year in 2017 with 6.5 sacks before exploding for 15.5 a year ago. He has two sacks in five games so far this year, but he has missed each of the past two weeks and appears set to be out for a third straight game.

Fuller, meanwhile, was hurt midway through the Chiefs’ week six game against the Texans and sat out last Thursday night. Also a fourth-year pro, Fuller has two pass breakups and no interceptions so far this year in his second season in KC.

Joining the two on the shelf in practice this week is the Chiefs’ top edge rusher, Frank Clark. Kansas City acquired Clark from the Seahawks via trade this offseason, and although it has taken him a bit to get up to speed, he did have two of his three 2019 sacks in last week’s game against Denver. Clark’s backup, Tanoh Kpassagnon, was a non-participant on Wednesday as well with an illness, but he returned as a full participant on Thursday. Backup linebacker Darron Lee has also been held out of practice all week.

If both Clark and Jones would be out, that would give the Packers some excellent matchups up front, likely allowing the team’s already-impressive offensive line to have a big day. Kansas City’s defense is already terrible against the run, giving up five yards per carry this season, and missing two of their starting defensive linemen should give Matt LaFleur and company even more confidence in putting the ball in Aaron Jones’ and Jamaal Williams’ hands. But with Fuller potentially out as well, the Packers’ passing game should be able to create some good matchups in the slot, particularly with their bigger wideouts against backup Rashad Fenton.

Stay tuned for the final injury report on Friday afternoon, but don’t be surprised if the Chiefs rule these three defensive starters out for Sunday’s game. And if that happens, expect another big day for the Packers’ offense.