The Kansas City Chiefs have more COVID-19 problems on special teams ahead of their Week 16 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Chiefs P Tommy Townsend is the latest player to be placed on Reserve/COVID-19 list per HC Andy Reid, who confirmed the news during his media availability. His vaccination status will depend on how quickly he’s available to return. Should he be unvaccinated, he’d be ruled out for both Week 16 and Week 17 due to a mandatory 10-day isolation period.
Townsend now joins fellow specialist Harrison Butker on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Butker was already ruled out of the Week 16 game due to his vaccination status.
Suddenly, the Chiefs are down 2-of-3 starters on special teams in a crucial Week 16 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Kansas City wants to keep the No. 1 seed they need to win this game. Should they lose, they’ll be tied with the Tennessee Titans who own the tiebreaker over the Chiefs after the team’s Week 7 loss.
The Chiefs signed Townsend’s brother, Johnny Townsend, to the practice squad in addition to former Panthers P Joe Charlton, who played with new K Elliott Fry at South Carolina. Johnny spent some time on the team’s practice squad last season and Coach Reid feels comfortable should the elder Townsend have to start in place of his younger brother.
“Yeah, that’s why we brought him in,” Reid said of the team’s comfort with Johnny.
It’s been a quick turnaround for players like Townsend and Charlton, along with Fry and LS James Winchester. The group is building chemistry on the fly and making the best out of bad circumstances.
“They had to get a couple of reps in today and we’ll see how that goes,” Reid said. “I have confidence that they’re going to. . . we should be OK.”
The team will likely look to avoid certain special teams situations in Week 16, but the solution might not simply be more fourth-down attempts. While the team is 7-for-12 on fourth down this season, they’re still awaiting word on whether Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill will be available to play. That could play a part in some of those decisions as well.