Chiefs GM Brett Veach Provides Key Injury Update on Offensive Starter

Patrick Mahomes

Getty The Kansas City Chiefs offense, including right tackle Lucas Niang, huddle around Patrick Mahomes.

When Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid addressed the media on April 18, he was asked about right tackle Lucas Niang — who suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 17 of the 2021 season.

“Lucas has done a nice job rehabbing,” Reid told reporters, but was hesitant on offering a timetable for his return. “I don’t want to put a date on it Herbie [Teope], but we’ll just see where it goes once we get back in these next two phases [of the offseason].”

Surprisingly, general manager Brett Veach actually provided fans with more information on Niang when he held a press conference on April 22.

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Veach Shares Some Positive News

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The question came in toward the end of the presser around the 32-minute mark and asked about tight end Jody Fortson, as well as Niang.

Veach responded: “Jody I don’t have an update on, just because I haven’t gotten with Rick [Burkholder] on him. Lucas — we did speak, I want to say about three days ago. Lucas actually flew in and got an update on his MRI, and everything was exactly where it needed to be.”

The GM continued in a somewhat broken thought: “With the bigger guys you’re always worried — especially with that injury. I’ll certainly defer to Rick but just in general, his timeline was excited about the degrees of flexion and flexibility — it was a check-plus so that means it was where it needed to be and he was right on schedule.”

Veach concluded: “So I don’t know if Rick had mentioned this — and at a certain point, he will — [but] I think that [being ready] by the end of training camp is something that could happen. But he’s definitely on target with where he needs to be.”

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Competition at Right Tackle?

This update does not mean Niang will be ready for Week 1. In fact, it implies that his recovery will come right down to the wire.

Of course, Veach and the Chiefs have already prepped for the possibility of his absence by signing OT Geron Christian. The former Washington third-round pick was the perfect insurance addition due to his versatility.

Christian could serve as the swing tackle if Niang continues to exceed expectations in rehab, or start in his place on Patrick Mahomes’ right.

Even if Niang is healthy, the Chiefs 2020 third-rounder is not guaranteed a role on the first-team offense. He was outplayed by Mike Remmers in 2021 and his analytical numbers (95.8% pass-blocking efficiency rate on PFF) were only a slight upgrade on reserve Andrew Wylie — who ended up starting seven games at right tackle.

Wylie was retained this March but should serve as veteran depth at guard and tackle.

One thing is certain, Kansas City needs someone to step up on the right-hand side of the offensive line. PFF charged this position with a combined 69 quarterback pressures allowed in 2021, which ranked first for the Chiefs OL. Right guard was second, as rookie Trey Smith allowed 56 QB pressures.


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