KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs could be without their two top pass rushers against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday after Tamba Hali and Justin Houston were hurt against San Diego.
Hali had an MRI exam on his sprained ankle Monday that came back better than the Chiefs had expected, while Houston had to postpone an MRI exam on his elbow due to swelling.
“They weren’t able to get him in the position that they wanted him to do the MRI,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “so we’ll wait a day or so to get the swelling down.”
Hali rolled over his ankle in the first half of Sunday’s 41-38 loss to the San Diego Chargers, and was helped gingerly off the field. He was driven on a cart to the locker room and didn’t return, and afterward was seen hobbling around on a pair of crutches.
Reid joked that Hali was down to one crutch on Monday, “so we’re halfway there.” Hali has nine sacks on the season, tied for fifth in the NFL entering the weekend, and needed just two more to pass Art Still (73) for the third-most in franchise history. The two-time Pro Bowl selection is among the most dependable players on the team, rarely missing a game.
“He’ll continue to work this week. He was in moving around a little better today than he was after the game,” said Reid, who wasn’t sure whether Hali would practice on Wednesday.
“We’ll just see how he does,” Reid said. “He made big improvements, but we just have to see how he does. He was on crutches after the game and then today he was able to walk in the pool.”
Reid sounded less upbeat about the prognosis for Houston, who landed awkwardly on his right arm while chasing down a play shortly before halftime.
Reid called the injury a subluxation of the elbow, which is essentially a minor dislocation of the joint, and said he wasn’t surprised that he was unable to have an MRI exam Monday.
“It swelled up. You could see it after the game,” Reid said. “They tried to keep the swelling down but you could see it was puffing up a little bit after the game when we were in the locker room, and then overnight it swelled up even more. I get it. I understand how that works.”
Houston, who entered the weekend tied for third in the NFL with 11 sacks, appeared in the Kansas City locker room on Monday with his arm tightly bound and in a sling. When he was approached by reporters, Houston said he was told not to say anything.
Frank Zombo would be first off the bench if either of the Chiefs’ outside linebackers is unable to play against Denver. He backed up Clay Matthews with the Green Bay Packers last season.
“He can do either side. He’s played a little football,” Reid said. “He’s in that group where he filled in and did a nice job. You saw the hurry that he had. He has pass rushing ability. He’s consistent. He’s a smart kid. He’s a consistent player.”
If Hali and Houston are both out, as they were Sunday, Dezman Moses would be called upon.
“That’s my job. I don’t feel any extra or any added pressure,” Moses said Monday. “I definitely understand what needs to be done. That’s my job as a backup. When one of those guys goes down, you have to come in prepared and ready to fill in.”
In other injury news, offensive guard Jeff Allen finished the Chargers game despite a groin strain, and fellow guard Jon Asamoah is still recovering from a bruised shoulder that kept him out entirely. Right tackle Eric Fisher also has a shoulder injury and defensive tackle Mike DeVito a knee injury. It’s unknown which of them will be available against the Broncos.
“We can’t let it be an excuse,” Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis said. “Injuries are part of the game, it could have happened to me. It could have happened to anyone.”