KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones is “in the COVID protocol” and won’t practice Tuesday, according to coach Andy Reid.
Jones is one of three players who won’t practice ahead of the Chiefs’ key AFC showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, and L’Jarius Sneed, who is returning from Louisiana after his brother’s death last week, also won’t practice.
Asked about the availability for Jones and Gordon on Thursday, Reid said, “We’ll see.”
The team placed Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list later Tuesday.
If Jones isn't available, it would have a massive impact on the Chiefs' defense, which has allowed only nine points in each of the last three games and 17 or less during the current six-game win streak.
“Chris is one of those players, probably the only guy you can compare to him is Aaron Donald when you’re talking about inside dominance,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “It’s going to be a big challenge trying to replace him, but we’re healthier up front there (than the Chargers game in September).”
Based on NFL protocols, both players would be required to test negative for COVID-19 at least 24 hours before Thursday’s game to be cleared for the game.
Reid said he reminds players to be cognizant of COVID-19’s continued spread on a weekly basis and quarterback Patrick Mahomes said players need to remain vigilant.
“When you know you’re down in the stretch run, you know you have to take it seriously, because you want to be available,” Mahomes said.
Mathieu, who missed the season-opening win against Cleveland, echoed Mahomes' comments.
“You want to put yourself in the same mindset you did a year ago,” Mathieu said. “When you get to the back end of the season, you don’t want to be one of those guys that’s not available. … Every game, there’s more on the line for this team and you want to be available for your team to battle.”
Rick Burkholder will handle determining whether Jones or Gordon can travel with the team based on NFL guidelines.
Reid said he’s had some contact with Sneed, who is a starting cornerback and missed Sunday’s win against the Raiders.
“Obviously, he’s hurting from the situation,” Reid said of Sneed. “He was very close to his brother. ... I think it will be good for him to be around his teammates. They care a lot about him.”
Mathieu said he believes Sneed will use his personal tragedy as motivation moving forward.
“He actually texted me and told me he loved me,” Mathieu said. “For me, that was all I needed to hear. He’s dealing with a lot right now, but football means a lot to him and means a lot to his family.”
Reid said it was Sneed’s decision to come back to the team.
“You don’t force anybody back in these type of situations,” Reid said.
Chargers starting left tackle Rashawn Slater, one of the top rookies in the NFL and the No. 13 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, also landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday. His availability for Thursday also is in question.