The Kansas City Chiefs have been dealt their fair share of injuries along the offensive line in recent weeks, with starting offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (leg) and center Mitch Morse (concussion), in addition to reserve lineman Jordan Devey (pectoral), all missing time of late.
It’s a reality that threw preseason waiver acquisition Austin Reiter into the starting lineup for just the second time in his career on Sunday, and against one of the league’s tougher defensive fronts in the Denver Broncos, Reiter stepped up to the task.
“I just wanted to earn some respect from around the league,” Reiter said following the Chiefs’ victory over Denver. “I had only started one game before this one, so I just wanted to go out there and prove to people that I can play in this league. It’s just an honor that Coach [Andy] Reid and the offensive coaches gave me the opportunity to start today.”
The Chiefs claimed Reiter off waivers prior to the season from the Cleveland Browns, where the former seventh-round pick played in 17 games in two years but made just one start.
That start was over two years ago – back during Week 10 of the 2016 season – making Reiter’s success on Sunday all the more impressive.
“That’s a tough job, and maybe with the exception of one play, I thought he really played a good game,” Reid said. “I’ve had a chance now to go back and look at the tape, and that was good to see.”
Reiter’s performance was predicated on the simple mentality of being ready for the opportunity when it came along.
“Injuries happen at every position, but last year when I was in Cleveland, our three interior guys never missed a snap,” Reiter said. “You really never know, you just have to prepare like you’re going to play every snap if you’re active on game day. You have to visualize making the plays that you need to make before the game.”
He managed to seize that chance when called upon, and it caught the attention of his teammates along the offensive line.
“Austin is a great guy and an even better player,” said fellow offensive lineman Andrew Wylie. “He did really well today – he took command of our offensive line and made some great calls out there.”
Fittingly, Wylie is another player that’s taken on a larger role of late on the NFL’s top offense due to the injuries up front and has played well when given the opportunity.
“Wylie and I were talking about how we’ll get in the huddle and see Tyreek [Hill] and all those guys and just think to ourselves, ‘Wow, there are a lot of weapons on this offense,’” Reiter said. “It’s really fun to play with those guys.”
“It’s so fun being a part of this offense and this offensive line,” Wylie added. “We didn’t start the season [in the starting lineup], but we’re here now, and we’re just trying to not skip a beat.”