Hurt Or Injured? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

They started in the last days of July and went through a month of training camp in St. Joseph that was very hot and nasty and very physical. They got four pre-season games behind them and now have practiced for the last 13 weeks.

That’s going on 20 weeks of bruises, scrapes, contusions, sprains and the like. Football is a game of collisions and when they happen they aren’t always pretty and the sometimes leave a mark. There are dozens of plays in each game like the one to the left, where QB Matt Cassel is being sacked and his legs are caught under Denver LB Mario Haggan. A serious injury as avoided there.

For the 2010 Chiefs, there has been a lot of hurt, but not so much injured in the first 11 weeks of the regular season. With the Parcellsian attitude that Todd Haley takes towards injuries, a player is going to have to have an ugly MRI, a red-light x-ray and a bone sticking out of his skin before the head coach considers a guy unavailable.

“I have great faith in our medical crew,” Haley said on Wednesday. “I think you want to be careful when you talk about hurt, injured and those things. I just say to them what I’ve said: we need all hands on deck and that won’t ever change. This is the NFL and you need to be contributing when you can as fast as you can. That standard was set last year really and we’re still in that foundation-building process but I don’t see that changing a whole bunch for our team. I just think we’re going to want everybody that can to be practicing and playing and there won’t be exceptions to that very often.”

Through 12 weeks of the regular season and 11 games, the Chiefs have placed only one player on the injured-reserve list because of injury – LB Mark Simoneau. He was with the team for only three weeks. They’ve since reached an injury settlement with the former K-State linebacker and he’s no longer part of the organization. 

The other six players on the injured-reserve list were placed there before the start of the regular season or were injured in the pre-season. In the NFL of today, those are remarkable numbers.

Credit for that must go to the team’s off-season strength and conditioning program. Also factored in is the tone that has been set by Haley and his coaches; players do not want to miss games. They’ve learned that to play, they have to practice. There’s also a dose of plain old luck, or maybe the lack of bad luck that can’t be ignored.

“Going all the way back to last year, that’s what’s been preached and taught to them and coached to them,” said Haley. “We’re not going to be a team that guys don’t practice and then they play – you’ve got to practice to play and to be a part of this, you’ve got to be playing. That’s just how we’re going to operate.”

Through the season so far there appears to be only one player who has escaped the mantra of one has to practice to play – guard Ryan Lilja. He’s battling with a foot injury and has been for several weeks. There’s been a pattern of him missing Wednesday and Thursday practices, working Friday and then playing on Sunday.

Otherwise, guys that don’t practice don’t play. Thus, there are very few practices where the Chiefs don’t have 49-plus players from the 53-man active roster working in practice. Sometimes the rehab area of stationary bikes can be a very lonely place for assistant strength coach Brent Salazar who runs the ship over there.

So far, the Chiefs have lost 35 games to injury. That’s 20 on offense and 15 on defense. The leader has been S Reshard Langford, who missed seven games with what the team called an ankle injury. Two players missed five games each: McCluster and Ryan O’Callaghan. In all 12 players have missed games because of injuries; that’s 12 of 53 or 22.6 percent

“I think it’s very clear to them that this isn’t a real fun place to be hurt or dinged up and it’s always going to be more fun practicing than not practicing,” Haley said.

They have lost eight starts on defense and five on offense, a total of 13 games lost by starters. In the NFL in any given season, that’s a very low number.

As for the players who have been hurt, take that 22 percent number of injured players and double it, plus a few more. The Chiefs share only the absolute minimum amount of information on injuries suffered by their players and coaches for that matter. But the odds say that it would be easier to list the players who have not spent time with trainer Dave Price and his staff than those that have.

The Chiefs and other NFL teams are required to report all injuries that might keep a player off the field for a game. The league does not want injuries hidden from the public and the rest of the league, and that includes the severity of the injuries

The status of injured players who do practice and do not miss games is a grey area that teams tiptoe through all the time. But understand there are dozens of those players on the field every Sunday.

Sometimes the information on the injury report is hard to quantify because teams take different approaches to the task So far this year, the Chiefs have had 48 listings on the injury report for 11 games of players out, doubtful, questionable and probable. For comparison, their opponent this week Denver has had 71 listings. Fellow division mates San Diego (78) and Oakland (116) have had plenty of injured players each week as well.

Since so many of the Chiefs younger players were part of major college programs, they learned awhile ago about the difference between hurt and injury.

“It was my freshman year at Mississippi State and I had a hip problem that was really an injury and I couldn’t play,” Lewis said. “That made me sick, because I wanted to be out there and I wanted to play and I felt like I was letting them down.”

There is seldom overt pressure placed on players by other players to strap it up and get on the field. Other players understand the dynamic, and also understand that an injured player who cannot perform is of no help to the team.

“Every guy has to make his own decision,” said veteran OLB L Mike Vrabel. “It’s your body and most guys have a pretty good idea of what they are feeling and whether they can go. I’m sure there are more occasions where players are told by medical that they can’t play than there are players who could play but don’t.”

Vrabel has now played in 201 NFL games over his 14-year career with the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs. Since he became a starter in New England in 2001, he’s missed five games because of injury, including two last season with the Chiefs.

“The reason we work and practice is we want to play,” Vrabel said. “When you can’t play it’s not any fun.”


  • AFC – named Patriots QB Tom Brady offensive player of the week; Texans CB Glover Quin defensive player of the week; Jets return man Brad Smith, special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – named Bears QB Jay Cutler offensive player of the week; Saints CB Malcolm Jenkins defensive player of the week and Falcons K Matt Bryant special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – named Bears DE Julius Peppers defensive player of the month.
  • BROWNS – claimed S Sabby Piscitelli off waivers from Buccaneers; released RB Thomas Clayton.
  • CHIEFS – signed CB Mike Richardson; released LB Justin Cole.
  • COLTS – signed LB Nate Triplett off the Chargers practice squad.
  • COWBOYS – signed TE Martin Rucker off their practice squad; released TE Scott Chandler.
  • PACKERS – signed LB Rob Francois and CB Josh Gordy off their practice squad.
  • PANTHERS – re-signed OT Rob Petitti; released RB Josh Vaughan.
  • SAINTS – signed LB Ramon Humber, last with Colts; released QB Sean Canfield.
  • TEXANS – placed S Torri Williams on the injured-reserve list (hamstring) ending his season; signed G Shelley Smith off their practice squad.

8 Responses to “Hurt Or Injured? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 2, 2010  - Chuck says:

    It will be interesting to see how McCluster and Flowers are doing. Was it also Kendrick Lewis who was injured in the Seahawks game??? I wish the Chiefs were more “forthcoming”. But I do understand.

  • December 2, 2010  - Edward says:

    Bob I think you meant to put Ole Miss in that statement about Lewis not MS State. As for injuries Haley has set the bar through is strength and conditioning program, mental toughness approach to the team, and his don’t practice don’t play mentality I think all those things contribute to team not have many player missing games due to injuries. As for Flowers I think he won’t be back until Chargers game. Mcluster should play this week I kind of get the feeling he may not been in the best game shape so that’s why Chiefs have been holding him out the last couple of weeks. Especially since he’s been full participant in practice last week and half.

  • December 2, 2010  - el cid says:

    It is not always about cheering or wearing red, to be a fan. Sometimes, it is like being a part of the organization. No a bit true but a teams fan wants to know more about his team than others. I remember Petro, on radio, said anytime it was a quiet day in sports the easy route was to mention the Chiefs and the hours were filled. Mr Pioli is not into that. Secrecy is the by word of his operation and that is the Chiefs but, come on, Mc should play or not in the best game shape, Or Flowers not playing until SD game. Just a lot of guessing or wishing. Most fans cannot get enough of an organization but not here in KC. Not good or bad, just the way it is.

  • December 2, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Back in the day when I played competitive sports. i.e. football & basketball (City Leagues). I had on occasion played while injured. There were no trainers or medical staff. Never had to check with my mommy or girlfriend to get her approval or ok. I simply played through the pain. Whether it was the adrenaline or what. All I knew was that I was distracted from the pain by playing through the pain or if I was going to be in pain, I just as well have fun while enduring it. I’ll have to admit though, the next morning getting out of bed, those first few steps almost put tears in my eyes.

    Now that I’m older of course. I’m a total wimp. Hell I can be sore, fatigued or in pain the next day just pulling weeds out of the flower bed. I’ll tell my wife that I am off limits for honey doos the next day.

    Half the fun of getting old is avoiding feeling old. I just wish I was a little better at it.
    Go Chiefs.

  • December 2, 2010  - el cid says:

    Did not know but Cassel is on schedule to break several records of Len Dawson. Wow. Did not see that coming. Although when I think about it, my all time favorite play is Bono on a naked roll out and running (a long time) for a td with no one from the defense (oakland?) in sight. So I should have been smarter.

  • December 2, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    el cid,
    While I agree with ya on not liking Pioli and the Chiefs keeping their mouth shut about injuries, it does make the upcoming opponent alter their game plan or have to add to their game plan incase a player is in the starting line up. I always wondered why people do tell you as much as they can, we like to talk about it but it really isnt a smart move.
    A (bad) example would be Andy Reid saying on a Monday or Tues that Vick was or wasnt going to start or be able to play. Why not just say it will be a game time decision whether Vick or Colb would start and make your opponent worry about who will be starting…just a thot.

  • December 2, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    el cid, that bono play was against the cardinals and it was awesome! 80 some yards i believe

  • December 2, 2010  - Nate says:

    Some of you bitch and complain about Pioli. Have you forgotten what it was like before he got here? We are lucky to have him and I don’t care if he never speaks to the media or anyone else for that matter, so get over it!! He has done a hell of a job in turning the Chiefs into a winner!!!

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