The rookie defensive back tandem of Tremon Smith and Charvarius Ward played a combined 134 snaps in Sunday night’s game in Seattle. Ward expected to be in the lineup. Smith‘s increased playing time (55 snaps) was a bigger surprise.
Kendall Fuller not being able to play at all (coming off thumb surgery) changed things significantly. The Chiefs ruled out Fuller, who has regularly played every defensive snap this season, during pregame warmups on Sunday. That not only meant Ward played on an every down basis, but it also meant Smith played in all nickel situations.
“Smith got thrown into it more because of the injury part,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I thought maybe we would be able to spot him in there instead of having quite as many things, but when Fuller wasn’t able to go then that put him in that position to play the extensive amount he did. I think it is great experience for him.”
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Smith, a sixth-round pick out of Central Arkansas, had played just 13 defensive snaps this season. He’d gotten the majority of his playing time as a kick returner.
The Schwartz streak goes on: Despite the knee injury that caused right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to show up on the injury report and miss a day of practice last week, he continued his consecutive snaps streak — which surpassed 7,000 straight earlier this season. Schwartz has started every game of his career dating back to his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns (2012).
Schwartz played each of the Chiefs’ 61 offensive snaps against the Seahawks. The loss may have also assured Schwartz’s streak will continue through the regular-season finale against the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs could have locked up the AFC West title and the top seed in the AFC with a win on Sunday night, which would have made the Raiders game meaningless, in terms of postseason positioning.
Now, with the Chiefs needing a win against the Raiders to secure a first-round bye and home-field advantage, it’s unlikely any non-injured starters will be rested. While Schwartz played in last season’s final game of the regular season in Denver, injuries to the Chiefs’ offensive line played a part in that decision. Schwartz had stated earlier this season that he expected Reid to make the best choice for playoff success if a similar situation came up this season.
Safety merry-go-round: The Chiefs made veteran safety Ron Parker inactive for Sunday’s game, which paved the way for the combination of Eric Berry and Dan Sorensen to start and play most of the game at those spots. Sorensen and starting cornerback Steven Nelson were the lone defensive players to remain on the field for every snap (80) against the Seahawks’ offense.
Berry, who played in just his second game this season, played 86 percent of the offensive snaps (or 69 in all). He was not on the field during the drive in which the Seahawks scored their final touchdown for a 38-31 win. Berry more than doubled his playing time from the Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium (30 snaps).
Removing Parker from the mix left the door open for Jordan Lucas to play a small amount on defense (12 snaps). Lucas, acquired at the end of the preseason from the Miami Dolphins, played and started earlier in the season with Berry out with a heel injury, Sorensen on injured reserve and Eric Murray sidelined by an ankle injury. Lucas had played exclusively on special teams in the previous five games. The last time he’d played more than 10 snaps on defense came in Week 9 against the Cleveland Browns (12 snaps).
Erving a healthy holdout?Starting left guard Cam Erving was active but did not play on Sunday night. He missed the Chiefs’ previous game, against the Chargers, with a knee injury. He did not practice leading up to the Chargers game. Jeff Allen started in Erving’s place last week, and he started and played every snap against the Seahawks. Erving was not active against the Chargers, but he was dressed and presumably available to play in Seattle after having been a full participant in practice all week.