KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs signed veteran linebacker Joe Mays as a free agent over the offseason to help solidify their run defense. Mays had been a solid but not spectacular run defender for three NFL teams, including Andy Reid's Philadelphia Eagles.
The Chiefs and Mays caught a bad break when he injured his wrist during the preseason and went on the short-term injured reserve list. But the Chiefs were surviving with Josh Mauga and James-Michael Johnson as their inside linebackers, so there was no need to rush Mays back into the lineup once he was activated before the Nov. 9 game against the Buffalo Bills.
Suddenly, the need is there. The run defense has collapsed. The Chiefs have allowed at least 179 rushing yards in each of the past three games. Mauga missed a number of tackles in Sunday night's loss to the Denver Broncos.
So it's time to get Mays back in the lineup. The Chiefs could use his veteran presence at a time when little is working for them on either side of the ball.
The Chiefs were right to go slow with Mays, who has played mostly on special teams in the four games since his return.
“We started working him in a little bit more last week in practice at the linebacker spot," Reid said. "Some of it is [his ability to use] the hand. That's the issue. He's got [an injured] wrist and part of tackling is that you've got to be able to grab and be able to do all of that. We want to make sure that physically he's able to do that and gets it right and then gets caught up to the speed on special teams and work through that to make sure he's right to go.
"He'll get more work this week and as we go here."
That's hardly a commitment to play him more.
"To point to one guy, I don't think that's what this is right now," Reid said of the problems in the run defense. "I think we've got to tighten up some areas from a staff and a player [standpoint]. We've got to make sure we sort through a few things there and get it right."