The New Orleans Saints suffered an injury on their offensive line in their season-opening win against the Green Bay Packers and have called upon a former Kansas City Chiefs starting lineman to help fill the void. New Orleans has signed free-agent center Austin Reiter to the practice squad with plans to elevate him to the active roster on game day, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
During the Week 1 win, Saints starting center Erik McCoy suffered a strained calf, which could keep him sidelined up until Week 6 — New Orleans’ bye week — according to Pelissero and Mike Garofolo of NFL Media. Because of that the Saints brought in Reiter, who can fill the temporary void along the offensive line until McCoy can return.
ALL the latest Chiefs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Chiefs newsletter here!
Reiter, 29, is coming off back-to-back seasons as the full-time starter for Kansas City, which included one Super Bowl victory in the 2019 season and an appearance in the big game during the 2020 season. During that time span Reiter started a total of 34 games, earning a 63.0 and 70.9 overall grade in each season, respectively, by PFF.
Reiter Highlights Chiefs’ 2020 O-Line Issues
The veteran lineman being a free agent and signing to New Orleans’ practice squad in Week 2 of the regular season is telling of the issues Kansas City had along the offensive line last season. Though Reiter was serviceable, his PFF grades show that he is not a starting caliber lineman in the NFL and would be better suited as a depth piece to a contender. This highlights the efforts by the Chiefs this offseason to bolster the offensive line.
The first big move this offseason for Kansas City was signing former New England Patriots All-Pro guard Joe Thuney to a five-year, $80 million deal. Then in April, they made a big trade to acquire tackle Orlando Brown Jr. from the Baltimore Ravens. Fast forward to September, and three first-year players are starting along the offensive line — rookie center Creed Humphrey, rookie right guard Trey Smith, and 2020 opt-out, right tackle Lucas Niang. That’s unusual, to say the least. Teams may typically experience a different face or two in the starting unit over the course of one offseason. But five new faces is rare.
The starting unit’s first performance in the regular season was an overall success. Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, who have one of the top-ranked defensive lines heading into the 2021 season, per PFF, Kansas City’s offense line gave up just two sacks, showed success in the run game during the second half, and helped quarterback Patrick Mahomes put together a performance that earned him AFC Week 1 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Mahomes completed 27 of 36 passes for 337 yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).
“I thought we came off and had bodies on bodies,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of the offensive line’s play following the Week 1 victory. “I thought we did a pretty good job with that and then I think we just have to coordinate a little bit more with the line and with the running back and how they’re going about their business together. I think that becomes important. The runners can set things up better or the O-Line needs to have a better idea of what the running back’s trying to get done with his part.
“I’ve got to make sure I get that straightened out as we go. Between Andy Heck and EB (Eric Bieniemy) and Greg (Lewis), I mean that group right there has a pretty good understanding. A lot of years as offensive line and running backs in that group there. I have confidence that it’ll get taken care of.”
- Daniel Sorensen Saved the Chiefs With This Week 1 Play
- Chiefs Could Lose OC Eric Bieniemy to Premier College Football Job: Report
- Chiefs Star Travis Kelce Struggled to Pay Rent as a Rookie. Here’s Why.