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Change could be coming for struggling Chiefs offensive line

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The move was subtle, made in the fourth quarter of a game the Kansas City Chiefs were destined to lose. But Donald Stephenson replaced Ryan Harris at right tackle on a struggling offensive line Sunday night.

“We just put him in really to get him some work," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

But the move could become permanent. Pro Football Focus gave Harris the lowest grade for the Denver game of any Chiefs offensive lineman.

“We’re looking at everything," Reid said. “We haven’t made any decisions on any of that right now."

The Chiefs made one other change on the offensive line in the middle of the Denver game when they replaced struggling left guard Mike McGlynn with Jeff Linkenbach. That change was due to injury; McGlynn bruised a quad muscle.

The offensive line is due for some upheaval. Quarterback Alex Smith has been taking a physical pounding. He was sacked six times by the Broncos, giving him his second six-sack game in the last four weeks. The Chiefs have now allowed more sacks per pass play this season than all but four other teams.

“The last couple games we probably haven’t done as well as we need to,’’ Reid said. “That’s an understatement. I’m saying that from a front standpoint. We could play better football than we have the last couple of games. Up to that point, I thought we were doing a pretty good job."

The Chiefs’ line was playing better in the middle of the season, but what’s happening of late is ruining their season. Jamaal Charles had just 35 yards on his 10 carries and earned most of those yards with little help from his blockers.

Other than going with Stephenson and perhaps Linkenbach, there’s little the Chiefs can do to help their offensive line this season. But clearly they miscalculated their needs up front and during the offseason will either have to spend on linemen in free agency or otherwise invest in these positions in the draft.