KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs have been missing four defensive starters because of injuries since early in the season, so they needed help from unexpected places to keep things from collapsing on that side of the ball.
One player who has done that is end Allen Bailey. Mostly a situational pass rusher in his first three seasons with the Chiefs, Bailey is not only a starter but doesn’t come out of the lineup much. He has played almost as many snaps this season as Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe.
“He made a big jump a year ago I thought in football and knowing what’s going on,’’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Bailey. “He’s obviously a very gifted guy athletically. He could play 80 plays a week and never get tired. He and Poe are very similar that way. Where’s he’s started to develop is he’s getting all the other things that come really from just playing. The last two years is the first time he’s really played a lot of snaps and this year obviously he’s playing almost all the snaps.’’
The Chiefs lost starting end Tyson Jackson during the offseason as a free agent but signed Vance Walker as his replacement. Bailey instead won the starting job and is now playing well enough that he has a strong grasp on it.
The Chiefs have played most of the season without the other regular starting end, Mike DeVito. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener and is out for the season.
Though Bailey isn’t DeVito’s replacement, his solid play has eased the loss. Bailey has 2.5 sacks, putting him on a pace for more than 7.5 for the season. That would be the highest total for a Chiefs defensive lineman since Jared Allen had 15.5 in 2007.
“One of the things that’s really great for us is that those two inside guys can make plays for us chasing things down,’’ Sutton said of Bailey and Poe. “That doesn’t happen a lot. A lot of times you’re not fortunate enough to have that kind of player. You maybe have a big, sturdy guy in there who maybe can’t make the plays outside. These two guys can chase screen plays down, wide plays, and they really help your defense.’’
Bailey is in the final season of the contract he signed with the Chiefs as a third-round draft pick in 2011. He’s playing well enough to deserve a new contract from the Chiefs at the end of the season.