ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Not playing in the Kansas City Chiefs' preseason opener didn't count against Casey Wiegmann's streak.
Still, the 38-year-old center probably didn't care much for remaining on the sidelines during the 25-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night.
Wiegmann was lured back to Kansas City for one more season by Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, and he admitted one of the reasons was his streak of 9,078 consecutive snaps — in games that count, at least. Wiegmann has started 159 of 160 possible regular-season games since 2001, when he arrived in Kansas City from Chicago.
"It's just a streak," said Wiegmann, who also played two seasons in Denver. "I take pride in it, but it's just a number."
Wiegmann and Haley worked together early in the NFL career with the Jets, when Wiegmann — an undrafted free agent from Iowa — was attempting to find a place in the league. He was considered undersized at 6-foot-2, 285 pounds, but Haley believed in him and that has stuck with Wiegmann through 15 seasons.
"There's nobody more excited about Casey's decision to come back and continuing to be a part of what he was such a big part of last year," Haley said. "This guy's a phenom. He's a phenom. You don't do what he's done for as long as he's done it by accident."
Over his career, Wiegmann has put together a consecutive snaps streak that would make any lineman jealous. He's not left any game regardless of score or outcome, even though coaches have tried to rest him late in the season. Wiegmann's run appeared to be in jeopardy last year before he came into training camp and beat out a much younger Rudy Niswanger for the starting job.
The Chiefs made it a priority to bring Wiegmann back this season, while Niswanger signed with Detroit.
"He was already an old-timer when I was a rookie. He's one of the wonders of the world," said Chiefs guard Ryan Lilja, entering his seventh NFL season and second with Kansas City.
Wiegmann will continue to hold the top spot on the depth chart, delivering the ball to quarterback Matt Cassel like clockwork.
Consider it a courtesy to the veteran, who is almost certainly in his final go-round.
Wiegmann brings a veteran presence to a youthful offensive line, and his leadership has become even more important after the Chiefs let veteran guard Brian Waters go. Second-year guard Jon Asamoah will likely start at guard, and backup center Rodney Hudson needs to learn the trade before he's ready to start.
Who better to learn from in the middle of the line than Wiegmann?
"He wrote the book on how to have a great career," Haley said. "So I'd be trying to do most of the things he's doing."