Chiefs Optimistic Dontari Poe Could Play on Sunday

The Pro Bowl nose tackle is coming back from herniated disk surgery

Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe didn't recognize the feeling during this past offseason.

Sure, he had pain before—he acknowledged that's par for the course in the NFL—but this pain, he explained, was different.

It wouldn't improve. In fact, it got worse and worse.

"The way I kind of dissect my body is I give it time to rest, time to heal," he told reporters on Thursday. "If I have pains here and there, I just give it time. With this one, it just wasn't going away, so that's when I told the doctors to take a more serious look at it."

Photos of Dontari Poe from the 2014 Season

Poe initially injured his back during Chiefs minicamp in early June. Epidural shots allowed him to get through camp, but the pain returned shortly thereafter during an offseason workout. It was revealed at that time the injury was a herniated disk.

In his three-year career, Poe has started every game he's been eligible (47), and in those seasons, he's played a higher number of snaps than most defenders in the entire league.

Forget injury. When it comes to just being tired, Poe is a stranger. That's why this situation brought upon such a feeling of helplessness for the Pro Bowl nose tackle.

"This is really my first time being injured, period, so it was a new process," he said. "I just took it one day at a time."

That one-day-at-a-time mentality started with surgery, a microdisectomy, followed by rest. Poe knew at that time he would have to be off his feet, so he relied on his closest family members for help in keeping his weight down.

"I didn't want to be eating and come back 400 pounds," Poe joked, "so I just decided to put it in my head to eat right. Really my mom got me hip to it to just kind of eat right."

Poe returned to the team at the beginning of Chiefs training camp, and head trainer Rick Burkholder quickly explained that even though Poe would be there, he wouldn't practice. He was up in St. Joseph for rehab with Burkholder and to be there for team meetings.

"They were telling me the same thing that I been pretty much thinking—play it by ear, see how it goes The healing process takes time, so you can't rush it, so just do it that way."

Over the period being hurt, Poe said he relied on two things—positivity and confidence—and those traits allowed the Chiefs to receive the news they had been waiting for since June on Sunday.

96 days after originally herniating his disk, Poe returned to the practice field.

"I think he's looking forward to getting out there in pads and we'll see what happens," head coach Andy Reid said Monday.

He was right.

Poe was a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and now, the Chiefs coaching staff is optimistic he could take the field against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Of course, that decision still remains in the hands of Reid, Burkholder and team doctors, but all things considered, it's no wonder Poe wasn't used to injury.

Herniated disk and all, it's beginning to look like he may not miss a game.

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