The Kansas City Chiefs' offensive line played well in the team's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and it did so while facing some adversity.
Starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. left pregame warmups and didn't return with the team, prompting the Chiefs to move Lucas Niang to left tackle to begin the game while starting Andrew Wylie in his place at right tackle. In the first quarter, Niang suffered a knee injury and had to be carted off the field. It's now being described as a patellar tendon tear, ending his season. Consequently, left guard Joe Thuney moved to left tackle and backup Nick Allegretti took his place for the remainder of the game.
Despite all that, the line performed admirably. The makeshift front five did a quality job giving quarterback Patrick Mahomes ample time to throw. It also generated plenty of push for running backs Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore. Thuney, specifically, appeared to thrive at a relatively unknown position. After the game, the 29-year-old was asked about his previous experience as an offensive tackle and how he thought he played.
"I think I had a series or two at right tackle a couple of years back," Thuney said. "I think there's always room to improve. I give credit to our offensive line coaches and the whole offensive coaching staff — they always do a great job of preparing us each week. It's kind of just a 'next man up' mentality. I'll have to take a look at the film. There's always things to work on and things to improve. Just try and look at the film and get a little better for next week."
The Chiefs' offensive line has had its fair share of injuries this season. Brown has played through a calf ailment, Niang hurt his ribs weeks ago, Mike Remmers has missed time due to being banged up and Kyle Long has yet to make his Chiefs debut. Thuney has been playing through a fractured hand for the majority of the season as well. He answered the call on Sunday, though, and is willing to do so as needed — even if it's not at guard.
"It's just different," Thuney said of moving from left guard to left tackle. "You're just a lot more spaced out there. Just wanted to do what the team needed. Wherever the team needs me, I'll play. Nick (Allegretti) was great at left guard talking, Creed (Humphrey) is always good at center. Did a great job communicating and just working together for the game. I'll play wherever."
While Thuney may not play any more snaps at tackle this season, the fact that he's able to do so at a mostly competent level (in a limited sample size) is a plus for the Chiefs. They still have Long and Prince Tega Wanogho waiting in the ranks, which bodes well for a team that just lost Niang for the season and has Brown dealing with his calf issue. Kansas City's offensive line was ravaged by injuries last season, and general manager Brett Veach made a concerted effort to ensure that something similar wouldn't happen again. The Chiefs have enough depth to keep pushing, and Thuney playing out of position was a testament to the group's overall resilience despite a loss.