With less than 48 hours until kickoff between the Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) and Miami Dolphins (8-4), the defending Super Bowl champs shared their final Week 14 injury report on Friday afternoon — and it came with an unwanted surprise.
According to the team, starting linebacker Damien Wilson, who missed all three practices this week, has been listed as out with a knee injury. However, two-time All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu also made an unexpected appearance with a hip injury, resulting in a questionable designation for Sunday’s AFC showdown in South Florida.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid did not address Mathieu’s ailment during his Friday press conference with reporters, leaving the situation up in the air for the time being. The team will make its final decision on Mathieu prior to kickoff in Miami.
The 28-year-old playmaker has not missed a start since 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals, when he was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury after 10 games. Since then, Mathieu has been a model of consistency, starting 60 consecutive games to date after not completing a full 16-game schedule through his first four seasons in the league.
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Rookie Likely to Start in Place of Damien Wilson
In the case of Wilson, the story is similar. The sixth-year linebacker, who joined the team on a two-year, $5.75 million deal in 2019, has started all 28 games since his arrival in Kansas City. In fact, the former fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys hasn’t missed a single game since entering the league in 2015.
With Wilson slated for some additional rest, Reid did confirm on Friday that rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is in line for additional playing time as a result of the injury.
Gay has posted 25 combined tackles, 2 pass deflections, 1.0 sack and a quarterback hit through Week 13.
Gay’s Role Increasing After Tapered Start
Gay was selected by the Chiefs with the 62nd overall pick back in April’s NFL Draft and has seen action in all 12 games thus far this season, drawing five starts, including 26% of the defensive snaps during last week’s divisional win over the Denver Broncos.
While the 22-year-old was drafted earlier than expected due to his physical traits, he is slowly finding his niche on defense and special teams after posting just 4 tackles through the first quarter of the season. The lack of production was partially by design as the coaching staff limited his reps to “big personnel groupings,” as Gay explained after the Week 4 win over the New England Patriots.
“My role right now is just to play against big personnel groupings, and wherever coach wants me other than that,” Gay told reporters on October 8, via Arrowhead Pride. “With the Patriots game, it was a perfect scheme to just be in the box and playing the run a lot, because they wanted to run the ball obviously. Each and every week it might change a little bit, so we’ll just see what happens going into next week and the weeks after that.”
The Mississippi State product now has a chance to flash his athleticism against another AFC East foe — and No. 2 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa — this weekend.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, CO. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join our Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!