Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens sustains apparent elbow injury against WFT

·2 min read

An apparent injury sustained in the second quarter by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens will force the defense to reshuffle their personnel against Washington Football Team. Hitchens came up shaken, holding his arm after a second-quarter play where he was penalized for unnecessary roughness.

Options to replace him are relatively limited, and his status for the rest of the game is in question. Fourth-year linebacker Ben Niemann is likely to step in, filling a familiar role in the middle of the defense where he has started off-and-on in recent seasons.

While Hitchens’ injury is bad news for a defense that can’t afford to lose any contributors amid major struggles in their first five games, a solid start against Washington has Kansas City in an early lead as they try to claw back to .500 on the season.

Hitchens was a free agent signing ahead of the Chiefs’ 2019 Super Bowl run, and he has been starting since his addition to the roster where he has quarterbacked the defense in recent seasons. If he is out for more than the rest of this game, it could force the Chiefs’ hand to sign or trade for another linebacker to fill the hole his absence would leave in the defense.

His replacement Ben Niemann has plenty of experience in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system and should be able to come in and play capably, even if not spectacularly, in relief of the veteran. Kansas City has relied on his contributions in the past, to varying degrees of success, and they know exactly what they’ll get from him in extended playtime. He’s one of the few players who can wear the green dot and make all of the calls on defense for Kansas City.

Against a middling Washington offensive attack, the Chiefs should be able to keep their early lead without Hitchens. As inconsistent as their defense has played so far this season, nothing is guaranteed, especially down their defensive maestro.

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