In the second quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs' Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, linebacker Anthony Hitchens exited the game with an apparent arm injury.
Hitchens, who is the eldest member of the Chiefs' linebacking corps, was attempting to run off the field without the team needing to waste a timeout. He couldn't manage to do so in time and as a result, Andy Reid burned his second timeout of the half.
The team was already without second-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. due to a foot injury that led to him being placed on the injured reserve list. He'll remain out for at least the first three weeks of the season while he rehabs and his exact return timetable is unknown after that. Any time Hitchens misses leaves the Chiefs very shallow at that position.
Behind Hitchens, rookie Nick Bolton and veteran Ben Niemann are the team's top active linebackers. Bolton, one of the Chiefs' second-round picks, has been praised throughout the offseason but is inexperienced. Niemann's familiarity with the defense gives him the edge in game situations for Steve Spagnuolo's scheme, even with his athletic limitations.
Halftime Update: Before the end of the end of the first half, Hitchens was able to return to the game. His absence was abbreviated, so the Chiefs may have dodged a bullet. The exact status of his injury remains unclear, although the second half and postgame comments from the team will be telling.
Postgame Update: Per Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, Hitchens "tweaked" his elbow, but felt able to return to the game.