Building an offensive line may be more about dancing than you would think, at least according to Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, and he would know. Reid played college football at Brigham Young University as a guard and a tackle from 1979-81.
"You want to make sure that they're all dancing the same dance," he said in his final press conference of the week Friday. "If they're dancing the same dance right now, then you kind of keep it that way."
"Dancing that same dance" wasn't always a given for the Chiefs, especially at the beginning of the season. Right tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended for four games and then Jeff Allen, who replaced his spot, tore his biceps in the first game, calling for season-ending surgery.
Knowing that you can't dance with the offensive line without five able partners, Reid turned to Mike McGlynn at left guard and Ryan Harris at right tackle. Together with Eric Fisher, Zach Fulton and Rodney Hudson, the line has looked better and better as the weeks have drawn on.
Reid felt so comfortable with the combination that he decided to keep it that way even when Stephenson became available against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5.
That stance hasn't changed since then either, despite Stephenson getting back into the mix at practice.
"He's gotten back in the swing. We've eased him in a couple of situations here," Reid said of Stephenson. "The problem when you leave is other guys step in and have a chance to play and they're playing well."
Stephenson, as he waits, remains confident that he will ready when the time comes.
"I'm back," he said assertively this week. "As soon as I came back, I just hit the ground running. [I'm] back like I never left."
The team is back at work on the practice field on Wednesday
Stephenson backs up a talented offensive line that seems ready to take on one of the fiercest defensive fronts in the league.
Fulton, who has started at right guard all year for the Chiefs, knows that protecting against a team that finished third in sacks last year won't be easy, so film study has been crucial.
"We have to be aware of all the things that they're doing," he said of the Rams' unit. "We watch a lot of film on them and we just have to make sure we're communicating."
The Chiefs have taken what they've learned from film all week and implemented it on the practice field, finishing with a light workout on Friday.
With work behind them and the game ahead, the Chiefs' offensive linemen hope to contain the Rams this Sunday, and if they can, they can give themselves a good chance to dance their way to a victory.
- WR Donnie Avery (groin) and Chris Owens (knee) did not practice and will be listed as out for the game against the Rams.
- S Eric Berry (ankle) and WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring) were limited and are listed as questionable for the game.
- RB Cyrus Gray (hand), LB Justin Houston (ankle), TE Travis Kelce (ribs) and CB Sean Smith (groin) are all listed as probable.