Through the first two games of the regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs defense has surrendered an average of 150.5 rushing yards to opponents, including 183 to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
In 2019, Kansas City allowed 128.2 rushing yards per game during the regular season and that number dipped to 106.6 yards during the team’s three-game Super Bowl run against some dominant ground attacks, including the Houston Texans, Tennesee Titans and San Francisco 49ers.
Part of that success can be attributed to veteran DT Mike Pennel, who joined the club last October and went on to play nearly 30 percent of the defensive snaps in eight of Kansas City’s final 10 regular season games, while starting the two playoff games in which the Chiefs held both the Texans and Titans to under 94 total yards rushing.
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Mike Pennel Set to Rejoin Chiefs Roster This Week
The Chiefs are expected to welcome the six-foot-four-inch, 330-pound defensive tackle back to their roster this week after serving a two-game suspension, which was handed down in late August for a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Chiefs DT Mike Pennel is eligible to come back from his two-game suspension this week.
Coach Andy Reid said there's a "good chance" he'll be up for Week 3's game against the (*Ravens).
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) September 21, 2020
— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) September 21, 2020
Pennel took to Twitter on August 25 to apologize to Chiefs Kingdom for his wrongdoing, citing that he was “completely unaware of how this occurred.”
“I take full responsibility for what goes into my body and promise to be more vigilant moving forward,” continued Pennel. “I am truly sorry and ask for your grace and forgiveness. I promise to return with a vengeance in our journey to RunItBack!”
— Mike Pennel (@TheBeastPennel) August 25, 2020
The Ravens Rushing Attacks Awaits the Chiefs in Week 3
The seventh-year nose tackle will be a welcome addition to a Kansas City defense currently dealing with multiple injuries, including three along the front line in DT Khalen Saunders (dislocated elbow), DE Alex Okafor (hamstring strain) and DE Frank Clark (illness).
With Pennel out of the lineup and Saunders sidelined for about a month, the Chiefs have been forced to lean on their youth, including this year’s fifth-round draft pick Michael Danna and undrafted free agent Tershawn Wharton. Now, Pennel could be a key piece to slowing down the Baltimore Ravens‘ rushing attack when the two AFC powerhouses meet up on Monday Night Football this week. While the Chiefs have by no means struggled to run the ball early in 2020, the Ravens nearly matched Kansas City’s 291 total rushing yards on Sunday alone, when they posted 230 rushing yards in a dominating 33-16 road victory in Houston.
The 29-year-old signed a new one-year contract in March to return to Kansas City, after drawing some interest from the Dallas Cowboys and others. Pennel will look to build on his 126 career tackles and 2.0 sacks in 2020. If he is active in Week 3, it would mark his first career game against the Ravens.