Chiefs need Joe Mays to return quickly

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Adding inside linebacker Joe Mays was one of the first moves made by the Kansas City Chiefs during the free-agent signing period this year. They added the veteran run defender to start in their base defense, alongside Derrick Johnson.

The plans the Chiefs had for Mays may have to be put on hold now that he's having surgery on his injured wrist. There's no word yet on when Mays might return, so the Chiefs need to prepare for the possibility he won't be available when the regular season begins on Sept. 7 against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.

They've been using Nico Johnson, a fourth-round draft pick last year, in Mays' place in practice. But in Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson and Frank Zombo, the Chiefs have some options.

None appear at this point to be as good as Mays. Nico Johnson was buried on the third-team early in training camp behind Mays and Mauga and looked like a candidate to be released when the roster need to be trimmed in late August. Mauga missed valuable practice time and last week's game at Carolina because of a sore groin, though he has since returned to work. The Chiefs have used James-Michael Johnson mostly in passing situations. Zombo has played most of his career as an outside linebacker.

While the Chiefs need to be prepared for Mays' absence, the best thing that could happen is his quick return.