The frustration of Frank Clark’s introduction to Kansas City appears to have a root.
Clark told The Star after the Chiefs’ loss Sunday in Tennessee that he has been affected by a pinched nerve in his neck since the end of training camp, which concluded two months ago.
Pain in his neck. Burning sensations down his arm. Numbness in his fingers. The ailment prompted him to ultimately take two weeks off before returning to the field Sunday, when he had his fourth sack of the season.
“I’ve been playing kind of timid this whole season,” Clark said. “That’s why I’ve been kind of slow. I’ve had a pinched nerve since the end of training camp. I’ve been playing through it. It just got to a point where this (crap) was so serious it was sending burning sensations down my arm. My two fingers was going numb. There was a lot of (crap) going on.”
After the Chiefs acquired him in a trade with Seattle, Clark signed a five-year contract north of $100 million in the offseason. Through eight games in his first year in Kansas City, he has 16 solo tackles, including four Sunday.
His two-week absence followed his most explosive game of the season — two sacks in a dominant defensive performance in Denver. He completed that game before showing up on the injury report for the first time the following week.
A breakthrough did little to sway his availability.
“I had to take precautions and get checked out and make sure to do everything that I wanted in football while it wasn’t going to affect my life after football,” Clark said.
After missing 24 days — the same absence as quarterback Patrick Mahomes — Clark was listed as questionable heading into Sunday’s game against the Titans. He believes the time off helped the injury heal a little but didn’t provide a complete cure.
“I feel good. I don’t feel great. I feel good,” Clark said. “I’m a football player at the end of the day. I’m going to play through everything. If they tell me I can go, I’m gonna go. That (crap) is just frustrating, man. You don’t want to be hurt.”
Clark’s return included what appeared to be a key sack in the fourth quarter. With the Chiefs clinging to a five-point lead with two minutes left, Clark tackled Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill seven yards deep in the backfield after Kansas City’s Chris Jones had pushed him up in the pocket. The sack forced the Titans into a fourth and 17 they failed to convert.
The final sequences of the game rendered the play moot. Even so, it showed a flash of Clark’s capabilities.
“I feel all right. Just gotta get healthier,” Clark said. “I’m not 100 percent yet. Just continue to go, get healthier. The season continues to go deeper and deeper. The healthiest teams are the ones that you usually winning down the long stretch, so that’s one of my goals.”