Mitch Morse returned to his starting center spot Sunday for the first time since the Chiefs played at New England on Oct. 14. The fourth-year pro played every offensive snap in the Chiefs’ 40-33 win over the Raiders in Oakland.
Morse, who had missed five games after entering the NFL’s concussion protocol, returned to practice last week without issue. He was one of five Chiefs players who played each of the 71 snaps against the Raiders, and his return went seamlessly from coach Andy Reid’s perspective.
“When you’re not standing out (to where) you’re hearing and feeling that he missed a block, then you just kind of put him out of your mind,” Reid said on Monday. “Then you just kind of put him out of your mind, that was a good thing. There were no instances where I sat there and went Mitch should’ve done or could’ve done this.
“Then after watching the tape, I thought he did a nice job. He played good, physical football. He’ll probably be a little sore today because he hasn’t played in a while.”
In Morse’s absence, Jordan Devey (one game) and Austin Reiter (four games) started games at center for the Chiefs prior to last week’s bye.
“Those six weeks were tough, just kind of being removed and focusing on getting your body right,” Morse said on Friday. “For three weeks I’d go over to KU Med and work with those guys. I can’t speak highly (enough) because they did a good job, and everyone here was so great and the organization has been great. It’s been tough, so it’s just nice to get back out there and knock some of the rust off.”
It’s all personnel: After not starting for the first time all season and playing his fewest snaps all season against the LA Rams on Monday Night Football, Chiefs inside linebacker Reggie Ragland returned to the starting lineup and played a significant amount against the Raiders.
Ragland played 47 percent of the defensive snaps (36 snaps) and made four tackles.
The Chiefs opted to go with rookie linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, a hybrid linebacker who excels at pass coverage, against the Rams. They use a personnel grouping with one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers more frequently than any team in the NFL. The Chiefs matched up against that personnel grouping with their nickel package, which included O’Daniel at linebacker.
The Raiders use myriad formations and personnel groups, including two tight end and/or two running backs, and that paved the way for Ragland to garner more playing time. He played just eight snaps against the Rams.
“In my head I feel like I can play any personnel, any type of game,” Ragland said on Friday. “But it’s whatever the team needs, and I’m never going to stray away from whatever the team needs.”
Ware and Williams: With Chiefs having released starting running back Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware (49 snaps) and Damien Williams (19 snaps) each had season highs in offensive snaps.
Ware rushed for 47 yards on 14 carries, while Williams gained 38 yards on five carries. Each had a 17-yard run for the biggest gain of the game.
The last time Ware carried 14 times in a regular-season game came against Tennessee on Dec. 18, 2016. Ware sustained a season-ending knee injury during the 2017 preseason.
“(The Chiefs) have been behind me every single play,” Ware said. “That’s been building my confidence. I thank my teammates and the organization. It makes it easier for me when I’m out there and I can play with people behind me.”
Personal best: Outside linebacker Dee Ford played 73 of 76 defensive snaps on Sunday against the Raiders. By recording 1 1/2 sacks, he set a career high with 10 1/5 sacks in a single season. His previous career high was 10 in 2016.
Pro Football Focus credited Ford with six pressures on Sunday, and he leads all NFL edge rushers with 64 total pressures this season, according to the site.