When it comes to staying healthy, this has been anything but an easy season for Chiefs offensive lineman Branden Albert.
Not only did Albert play through an AC sprain in his shoulder earlier this season, he also suffered two injuries during the Chiefs' 24-7 win over Oakland on Sunday. The first one, an elbow strain, came in the first quarter when Jamaal Charles hit his arm while trying to help out in pass protection.
After the first one I told him I got your back if you need it ― I don't want you to do anything or mess up anything worse than I already is, said backup tackle Donald Stephenson.
Albert eventually returned to the field to supplant Stephenson, his replacement, only to sprain his left knee in the second quarter when linebacker Sio Moore rolled up on the back of his leg (feel free to scroll down for GIFs of both of his injuries).
Albert missed the rest of the game, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he expects his starting left tackle to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.
I'm the oldest man on the offensive line ― not old ― but I am the oldest, said Albert, 28. I've got to show these guys that when you're going through things and things aren't perfect, you've got to keep fighting.
Albert has done just that. Despite his litany of injuries, his pass-blocking grade of plus-6.7 (according to Pro Football Focus) is easily the highest of any Chiefs starter, with center Rodney Hudson (plus-2.8), right guard Jon Asamoah (plus-2.6), left guard Jeff Allen (plus-0.6) and right tackle Eric Fisher (negative-5.4) behind him.
It means a lot, man ― he has a lot of grit, Allen said. For him to sacrifice his body and go out there and continue to play while he's hurt, that meant a lot to us and got us going. We saw him battling. He's out there busting his tail and we needed to do the same.
Albert, who is currently playing under the one-year franchise tender, was listed as a full participant in Wednesday's practice and also participated in Thursday's practice. He says he'll continue to lay it on the line for the 6-0 Chiefs, pain and all.
I could easily not do it, but I am, Albert said. I owe these guys this. I've got to do what I've got to do.