KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — John Dorsey has pieced together what he believes is his strongest roster since taking over as the Kansas City Chiefs general manager nearly three years ago.
On Monday, he got some news that could help prove that assessment correct.
After missing all of training camp following back surgery, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe has returned to practice this week. Poe did a little work on Sunday and, depending on how he fares when pads go on Wednesday, could play in Sunday’s season opener in Houston.
That wasn’t the only positive injury news, either. Eric Fisher was back at work after missing most of training camp with a sprained ankle, though coach Andy Reid disclosed that the former No. 1 overall pick would move from left tackle to right tackle against the Texans.
Still, the return of Poe and Fisher is good news for the Chiefs, who believe their revamped roster has enough talent to challenge the Denver Broncos for AFC West supremacy.
“We’re getting guys back healthy,” Reid said. “That’s a good thing.”
Few expected the 6-foot-3, 350-pound Poe to play in the opener simply because back injuries are notoriously difficult to overcome, particularly for someone of his size and playing a position where there is constant stress on it. But all along, Poe insisted that he would be on the field against the Texans, and he is at least moving closer to making good on his promise.
“Right now, it’s exactly where we thought it would be at this stage. As the days go on, we’ll see how it is,” Dorsey said. “You want to do what’s best for the kid.”
Of course, having a healthy Poe also happens to be what’s best for the Chiefs.
The former first-round pick is coming off possibly his finest season, starting all 16 games and setting a career high with six sacks in earning his second straight Pro Bowl nod. Perhaps most importantly, he helped to stuff the run, something the Chiefs struggled at doing last season.
“He’ll be limited in the number of reps and we’ll just monitor him,” Reid said. “He’s on schedule to possibly have an opportunity to play against the Texans.”
Fisher appears certain to get on the field, even if it’s at a different position.
While he was drafted with the idea of protecting the quarterback’s blindside, Fisher has gone through plenty of growing pains. And when he went down in practice, Donald Stephenson not only did well as his replacement at left tackle, he performed so admirably that Reid decided to keep him there and put Fisher on the right side — the spot he played as a rookie.
Reid insisted the move was not based on Fisher’s performance so much as the job Stephenson did at left tackle, where he appeared to be more comfortable than on the right.
“Donald has a ton of reps over there, so I just said, ‘Listen, let’s leave him there. He’s comfortable with that.’ I actually think he’s more comfortable there than the right tackle spot, where he’s had some ups and downs,” Reid explained. “Fish, he can play anywhere.”
The benefit of making the move is who the tackles will be lining up next to: The less-experienced Stephenson will have veteran Ben Grubbs next to him at guard, and the more-experienced Fisher will have second-year pro Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff next to him on the right.
“Fish just wants to play. He doesn’t care. He’s going to do what he does for the team and let’s roll,” Reid said. “He’s glad to be healthy again, on track to play again. He’s fired up about that and getting back in. That’s how he approached it.”
Reid said that Jeff Allen, who had started at right guard until a knee injury in camp, could return to practice soon. Once he is game-ready, Reid will have to reassess his offensive line.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs added some depth Monday by signing former Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid. The veteran is versatile enough to play both tackle positions, and Dorsey said that he could even play the offensive guard spots in a pinch.
“There’s a lot of combinations here where you’re looking for a swing tackle,” Dorsey said. “He has a lot of attributes you look for. He can play all four spots.”
NOTES: Reid said WRs De’Anthony Thomas (calf) will practice this week. He figures to be the Chiefs’ primary return man. ... ILB Josh Mauga (heel) will also practice. He remains the starter, though Reid has been complimentary of rookie Ramik Wilson. ... The Chiefs waived LB Josh Martin to make room for Reid on the roster.