KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The third preseason game is usually the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the one time in the four-game series when starters play into the third quarter as if the outcome mattered.
It will be hard for the Kansas City Chiefs to approach Saturday’s game in Chicago that way.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the final practice of the week Thursday that several starters and backups will not play due to injuries and their rehab situation. Among them are pass rusher Tamba Hali, running backs Jamaal Charles and Charcandrick West and linebacker Josh Mauga.
“We were able to get some good work out of some of the guys who were hurt,” Reid said. “I thought that was important this week. But they have a couple more weeks before we start and we have one more game after this.”
The fourth preseason game is usually the game where starters play the fewest snaps, ensuring that they remain healthy for the games that count. But in this unorthodox preseason, big names such as Hali and Charles may find their way onto the field against Green Bay.
Hali returned to practice this week after offseason knee surgery, though the Chiefs are taking a slow approach to working him into the mix. He routinely sits out some of the drills, much like he did last season, when he would only play on Sunday.
Charles has been back for a couple weeks after surgery to repair his ACL last season. But much like Hali, Reid has taken a slow-and-steady approach to getting him back to work.
The common denominator with both of them: They have done this before. Hali is entering his 11th year in the league, Charles is entering his ninth. So it’s not as if they need meaningless preseason games, even if it’s only to shake off the rust.
Asked if they would play at all in the preseason, Reid replied: “Only if I feel like they’re right. I think they’re all right, but I’m not going to stick them out there if there’s a question.”
Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy certainly isn’t worried about Charles, who is coming back from a torn ACL for the second time.
“He’s done a great job this entire offseason,” Bieniemy said. “He’s right where he needs to be.”
West has been dealing with a mild elbow sprain that he sustained in the Chiefs’ first preseason game. He practiced Thursday wearing a bulky brace but, like Hali and Charles, is not going to be rushed back onto the field.
Mauga continues to miss time with a groin injury. The presumptive starter alongside Derrick Johnson in the middle of the Chiefs defense was also inactive for Kansas City’s first two preseason games, which has raised the importance of the competition between Justin March and Ramik Wilson.
Other players who will be inactive on Saturday include Tyler Bray, who is trying to earn a spot as the third-string quarterback behind Alex Smith and Nick Foles, and Dezman Moses, who is trying to prove he can prove depth at linebacker with Justin Houston out for the foreseeable future.
One name not on the list? Phillip Gaines.
The cornerback is also coming back from a torn ACL sustained last season, and he’s first in line to start opposite defensive rookie of the year Marcus Peters. Gaines was inactive for the first two preseason games but participated more in practice this week and could play against the Bears.
“There’s a good chance,” Reid said. “We’ll see how he did today.”
NOTES: Reid said the starters will play into the third quarter, then give way to the backups and third-teamers. He also hopes to get all four available QBs into the game with Aaron Murray and Kevin Hogan also trying to earn a roster spot.
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