Chiefs won't find it easy coping with Dontari Poe's absence


ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs found Dontari Poe to be so valuable the past couple years that the 346-pound nose tackle rarely came off the field during the regular season.

Now the Chiefs will learn about life without the two-time Pro Bowler. They're forced to give Poe some rest after he recently underwent surgery in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, to remove a herniated disk in his back.

Things might not be so pretty for Kansas City without him. The Chiefs don't have a true nose tackle other than Poe. They will use Jaye Howard, who started at defensive end last season, as Poe's replacement. Another end, veteran Mike DeVito, will get some snaps there, and rookie Rakeem Nunez-Roches, a sixth-round draft pick, will get a look at the position as well.

Poe is a valuable asset for the Chiefs against both the run and the pass. The Chiefs hope to fix last season's leaky run defense with the return of DeVito and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, who was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon in last year's opener.

Now the Chiefs take a step backward in that area without Poe. His loss might be felt even more when a K.C. opponent attempts to throw.

The Chiefs had an effective pass rush last season, led by outside linebacker Justin Houston. He topped the NFL with 22 sacks in part because Poe and Allen Bailey made for a nice duo of middle pass-rushers.

There's no way for the Chiefs to recreate that without Poe. The team may turn to another player who missed all of last season because of injury, Mike Catapano.

This isn't the way the Chiefs wanted to begin training camp. They were hopeful they had taken a step forward with the addition of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and guard Ben Grubbs on offense, and by retaining most of a solid defense, including Houston. He recently signed a contract that will keep him in Kansas City six more years.

Now the Chiefs are having to cover for the loss of one of their best players. We'll have to see how they cope.