As of this writing, Kansas City Chiefs starting center Mitch Morse is still in the concussion protocol. His backup, Jordan Devey, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a torn pectoralis major.
That leaves the Chiefs with a vacancy at the starting center position as the team prepares to face the Denver Broncos this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. It certainly isn’t the best week for offensive line injuries with six-time All-Pro linebacker Von Miller coming to town.
Asked about the position on Wednesday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was not ready to name a starter.
“Brett (Veach) has done a good job of bringing guys in,” Reid said. “Austin (Reiter) is here and he has experience, so he can step in if needed, and Jeff Allen can play if needed. Andy (Heck) does a great job of rotating those guys during practice, now and OTAs, and then during training camp. Everyone can kind of work into all the positions. We don’t get concerned about that, we just try to move forward. If you can go then you can go, if you can’t you can’t, and we move on.”
Reiter, who played center in college, signed on with the Chiefs in early September. He started one game at center for the Cleveland Browns back in 2016. Allen offers the versatility to play center but has never started there in 62 career NFL starts, according to Pro Football Reference.
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy offered little clarity when asked on Thursday morning.
“We’re just working through the process,” Bieniemy said. “Like I’ve said, we’ve rolled a number of guys there. Hell, you may even see me play center. Coach (Andy) Heck has done a good job with those guys. He’s coached them all up, so whoever’s up, that guy will be ready to play.”
The first of two unmentioned candidates to fill in at center are Cameron Erving, who did so for the Chiefs while Morse was out due to a foot injury this offseason. He also started 12 games at center for the Cleveland Browns back in 2016. Erving has been the Chiefs’ starting left guard every game this season.
The second unmentioned candidate is Jimmy Murray, who was promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Tuesday with Devey heading to injured reserve. Murray is a 6-foot-5, 305-pound undrafted free agent who played center at Holy Cross.
“He’s been working real hard all the way through training camp,” offensive line coach Andy Heck said of Murray. “He’s a smart guy, he’s athletic, and he works hard, so we love that. He’s got his nose to the grindstone. Again, in my opinion, you can’t have enough people on your roster that can snap the football. He’s one of those guys that can do that, and he’s been working really well. I think we got a good one there.”
MY PREDICTION: Reid often preaches starting the five best players along the offensive line, and my best guess would be that he leans on experience in this case. Erving has worked with Mahomes and has played the most NFL games at the position, so I bet he slides over from left guard. Andrew Wylie either stays at right guard, where he started last game, or slides over to left guard, where he worked out in camp. In either vacant guard spot—whether it be left or right, that’s where I see Allen coming in.