Friday, October 22, 2021

Depleted Chiefs offensive line faces test in Buccaneers’ rush

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Two great quarterbacks, two star-studded receiving corps, two ball-hawking secondaries.

And one very banged-up offensive line.

One of the key matchups in Super Bowl LV will be how the Chiefs’ protection for Patrick Mahomes holds up against Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and the rest of a fearsome Buccaneers’ pass rush.

“My guys have been practicing hard the last couple weeks here, trying to make sure their technique and fundamentals are proper,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Listen, we’re not the prettiest bunch on the offensive line, but I’ve got scrappy guys and they’ll figure out how to do it well.”

Kansas City lost starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz as well as guard Kelechi Osemele to season-ending injuries. Before the season even opened, starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and third-round pick Lucas Niang both opted out.

The projected Super Bowl starters include four players who have been cut multiple times and a fifth who was a seventh-round draft pick last year.

A depleted Chiefs offensive line will look to keep Patrick Mahomes protected against a fierce Buccaneers pass rush.Getty Images

“There are strengths everywhere in this game,” NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci said.

The due date is unknown — Matthews announced the pregnancy on Sept. 29 — but Mahomes is planning to sneak in one more football game before becoming a father sooner than you might expect.

“We have all the things planned out and every single gadget and tool you can have to be great parents,” Mahomes said, “but at the same time I’m trying to tell her to hold off until after the game. Whenever it happens it happens, but if we can wait until maybe a few weeks after the game that would be ideal.”

Arians: Mathieu favorite draftee ever

Of the 51 NFL draft picks Bruce Arians has helped make as a head coach, one stands out above the rest.

see also

How Bruce Arians became the ultimate ‘Riverboat gambler’

Bruce Arians called a fake punt in his first game…

Safety Tyrann Mathieu was a second-round pick in Arians’ first draft class with the Cardinals in 2013. Now they are on opposite sides of a Super Bowl as Arians coaches the Buccaneers against the Mathieu-captained Chiefs.

“My favorite draft choice of all time,” Arians said. “I am so proud of the man that he has become. He’s a great football player, but he’s a better man.”

Mathieu was kicked off the team at LSU in 2012 after failing multiple drug tests.

“Coach Bruce was one of the first people in the NFL who believed in me,” Mathieu said.

This is a guy who coached Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning and now he’s coaching Tom Brady, and somehow I’m still one of his favorite players.”

Brady still expects to get better

Tom Brady is not the retiring type. We already know that. It might make his opponents in the NFL rest a little easier, though, if Brady at 43 years old were not so spunky when he speaks about continuing his career.

“I think next year is going to be a lot better than this year,’’ Brady said. “I feel like I’ll be in a much better place mentally. I’m going to train better this year. As soon as this game ends we’re onto next season.’’

Brown among limited at practice

Four Buccaneers players listed on the injury report — WR Antonio Brown, S Jordan Whitehead, LB Lavonte David and S Antoine Winfield Jr. — all were limited in Wednesday’s full practice. Whitehead wore a non-contact jersey.

“Most of them looked pretty good,’’ said Arians, who was waiting on what swelling, if any, was in Brown’s knee after practice.

The only Chiefs to not practice Wednesday were Fisher and LB Willie Gay. Both are going to miss the game after suffering serious injuries.

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