The Chiefs began preparations on Wednesday for the Oakland Raiders without, arguably, their best offensive player and best defensive player.
Running back Jamaal Charles, the AFC’s leading rusher and the Chiefs’ leading receiver, was held out of practice because of recurring blisters on his toes.
Linebacker Justin Houston, who ranks second in the NFL with 8 1/2 sacks, is undergoing protocol for a concussion after taking a shot to the head and neck area in last Sunday’s victory at Tennessee.
“So far, (Houston) has been cleared of any signs of (a concussion),” coach Andy Reid said. “That’s a plus. But we’re taking him through the whole protocol and making sure.”
Reid said Charles’ blisters are not a result of a heavy pounding. Charles has carried 92 times for 397 yards and has caught 28 passes for 250 yards.
“This is his feet,” Reid said. “It’s not the joints or anything like that. His feet are a mess. That’s unusual. He’s got blisters.”
Determining the cause of Charles’ blisters has been problematic.
“They’ve done the shoes and the socks …” Reid said. “He’ll be all right.”
Wide receiver Donnie Avery, who has a shoulder contusion, took part in the early part of practice open to reporters. Tight end Anthony Fasano, who has a knee strain, did not practice. S Kendrick Lewis (ankle) also did not practice. Offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who missed last week’s game because of a concussion, returned to practice Wednesday.
Oakland coach Dennis Allen said running back Darren McFadden (hamstring), who missed last week’s game against San Diego, was limited in practice Wednesday but the Raiders are “hopeful” to have him available this week.
Kelce has surgery
Rookie tight end Travis Kelce underwent a micro-fracture procedure on his knee and will be out indefinitely.
Kelce, the club’s third-round draft pick, has been battling a bone bruise in the knee since the third preseason game and has appeared in just one regular-season game.
The club does not have any immediate plans to place him on injured reserve, though that could change depending on needs at the position or any other positions.
Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said a spot in Kelce’s cartilage at the end of his femur didn’t show up in MRIs, but when team physician Cris Barnthouse went in with a scope, the spot was revealed and repaired.
Oakland free safety Charles Woodson was selected AFC defensive player of the week for his performance in the Raiders’ 27-17 victory over San Diego.
Woodson had four tackles, an interception and returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown in the game. His 13 combined return touchdowns off turnovers (11 interceptions, two fumble recoveries) tied Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most in NFL history.
QB, turnovers are the keys
Woodson, who is in his second tour of duty with the Raiders after spending the last seven years with Green Bay, said the difference between the 2-14 Chiefs of a year ago and the 5-0 team this season comes down to quarterback play.
“The biggest thing is the quarterback change and having a steady quarterback who is not going to turn the ball over,” Woodson said of Alex Smith replacing Matt Cassel. “When I look at this team, and the way they played defensively last year, they were good already.”
Allen cited the Chiefs’ reversal in turnover differential. The Chiefs are an NFL-best plus-10 (15 takeaways, five giveaways) compared with an NFL-worst minus-24 last year.
“They’re not making mistakes on offense, and they’re taking it away on defense, and that’s a great formula for success in this league,” Allen said. “They understand how their team is built and how they’re going to win football games, and they’re executing that formula to perfection.”
Raiders sign Muir
The Raiders signed free-agent defensive tackle Daniel Muir on Wednesday. Muir, a six-year veteran, signed with the Chiefs during the offseason and participated in the OTAs and minicamps but was released before training camp.