KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Linebacker Dee Ford last season became the first Kansas City Chiefs first-round draft pick to not start a single game as a rookie in 10 years. Even a notorious bust like wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2011, started three games as a rookie.
Ford has also been a reserve for this season’s first five games. But he could make the first start of his career in Sunday’s game against the Vikings in Minnesota.
Tamba Hali was held out of Thursday’s practice because of a sore knee. It’s certainly possible Hali could play in Minnesota -- he’s played on Sundays many times over his career after appearing on the weekly injury report.
But Sunday’s game could also be the start of what appears to be the inevitable transition from Hali, who is likely in his final season with the Chiefs, to Ford.
Ford has replaced Hali at times during the first five games but never for an extended period. Ford played between 12 and 15 plays in each of the first four games before getting a season-high 29 snaps last week against the Chicago Bears.
Ford would probably have claimed more playing time had he been more productive. He’s been in on just five tackles with one quarterback pressure and no sacks.
It made sense the Chiefs would bring Ford along slowly. He was learning to play linebacker after being a defensive end in college at Auburn. The Chiefs also had Pro Bowlers in Hali and Justin Houston ahead of him at outside linebacker.
But he’s almost a season and a half into his NFL career. Ford should have made enough progress by now that he can hold up for an entire game.
We might see on Sunday whether that’s indeed the case.