The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t sure of the status of safety Tyrann Mathieu ahead of Sunday’s Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo assured reporters they have a back-up plan in case the 29-year-old needs to unfortunately sit out on the contentious match.
“It’s up in the air and it’s a little bit challenging to game plan for,” Spagnuolo said, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We’ve got Plan A and Plan B.
“We’ll move guys around, do what we have to, try to do most of the things we do with Tyrann but certainly some of those things are going to change and some of the calls might alter because of that.”
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Mathieu had a positive COVID-19 test result on Thursday, September 2. Though he is vaccinated, he is unable to practice per league rules and hasn’t been spotted at team activities all week. On Monday, September 6, head coach Andy Reid confirmed the reason for his absence as well.
“He’s still in the protocols. We just have to wait that out and see where he’s at. I mean, I’ll know more as we go on.”
Spagnuolo did mentioned that Mathieu has been involved in the Chiefs’ defensive meetings, joining from home on video.
“Thank God we’re way ahead in this whole Zoom thing,” he continued. “Otherwise we’d be trying to figure out [how to coach him]. The camera sits right in front of me as I address [the defense] and he’s right there. I get to talk to him a little bit in the meetings. He hasn’t missed a beat.”
Though their luck in September remains perfect with Patrick Mahomes under center, Kansas City will need more than luck if they want to escape the Arrowhead home opener with a win.
Chiefs Hoping To Get Off to a ‘Great Start’ vs Browns
The Browns are no easy opponent, so the Chiefs will need to score early and often against their AFC foes. Tight end Travis Kelce seems to agree, admitting that’s the goal “every single year.”
“You want to get off to a great start and set yourself up for the long haul,” the 31-year-old said. “Starting fast and finishing strong has always been the mentality here. It’s about coming out of the gates ready to go – both mentally and physically – and finishing the same way.”
Kelce is coming off a monster season in which he earned the record of most receiving yards in a season by a tight end with 1,416. Even with that accolade and several others to his name, the future Hall-of-Famer knows there’s a lot more work he has to do. Thankfully, he’s taken the offseason to study and evolve.
“I’ve had to evolve and find ways to be accountable. That’s something I’ve taken pride in throughout my career. By watching film from last year, you can understand how teams are going to try and slow us down, and from there, you just have to find different ways to critique the offense. I’ve trusted [Head] Coach [Andy] Reid with that my entire career, and I haven’t been let down.”
Even the Super Bowl LV Loss Shocked Kelce
Though no one wants to lose in the biggest game of the season, perhaps falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9 in Super Bowl LV was the wake-up call Kansas City needed. Kelce certainly thinks so, at least.
“It was never even a thought and sure enough, everything happened rapidly,” Kelce said to Zach Frydenlund of Complex.com. “I forget what happened in the first half, but we got down real quick and from that point on, it was just an uphill battle that we couldn’t, the hill just kept getting higher and higher on us. We couldn’t get to the top of it to start to get some momentum to come back down and it was a struggle, man. It was a helpless feeling, but looking back on it, you start to find things throughout the game, throughout the first half that could have gone your way.”
That loss still occupies space in likely the minds of all Chiefs players and personnel, so expect them to all come with a vengeance at 3:25 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Sunday.