Chiefs missing Berry, Colts without Hooker for playoff game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs' Eric Berry and Spencer Ware joined the Colts' Malik Hooker and Tyquan Lewis in street clothes for their cold, snowy divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday.
Or parkas, more accurately.
The quartet of starters was among the inactives for the latest postseason matchup between the Chiefs and Colts. Berry was out with a heel injury and Ware remained out with a hamstring injury. Hooker was sidelined by a foot injury and Lewis by a sore knee in a significant blow to an Indianapolis defense that must contend with Kansas City's high-powered attack.
Hooker had played 87 percent of snaps this season, and an even greater amount during the Colts' win over Houston in the wild-card round. George Odum, a rookie, will join Corey Moore and J.J. Wilcox in covering for him alongside strong safety Clayton Geathers.
Colts coach Frank Reich said this week that Hooker would be a game-time decision, though he did sound optimistic when they had their final practice on Thursday.
"Yeah, I mean obviously best-case scenario all the guys that we have a little dinged up, the best-case scenario is that they all go," Reich said, "because if they are going we feel like they can play winning football even if they are dinged up. That will be our mindset going in, `Hey if you're out there, we expect you to play winning football."
The Colts placed backup safety Mike Mitchell on injured reserve earlier this week with a calf injury, further depleting a defense that has played especially well during a five-game win streak.
"In the sub packages, his role was big," Reich said. "You just count on Mike, I mean, especially in those sub packages. ... Mike has been pretty instrumental."
Al-Quadin Muhammad got the start in place of Lewis at defensive end.
As for the Chiefs, any optimism their three-time All-Pro safety would return for the playoffs seemed to evaporate this week when Berry never took the practice field. His heel kept him out most of the season, and a recurrence before their regular-season finale sidelined him again.
Jordan Lucas was slated to start against Andrew Luck and the Colts offense.
Ware, who assumed the starting role when Kareem Hunt was cut midseason, has not played in a month because of a hamstring injury. Damien Williams started again in his place.
The Chiefs did get some positive news when wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who has been out with a foot injury since November, was active for the playoff game. Watkins was in a walking boot a few weeks ago but practiced all week, then tested his foot on the snowy field Saturday.
When inactives were announced 90 minutes prior to kickoff, Watkins was ready to go.
"He's done a nice job," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the Chiefs' final practice of the week. "He had good work all three days and looked pretty good."
If only the same could be said of the field.
It looked pristine a few weeks ago for the Chiefs' regular-season finale against Oakland, but rain Friday that quickly turned to snow saturated the playing surface. The Chiefs kept tarps on it as long as possible, but they were removed 2 hours before kickoff and snow began to accumulate.
The middle of the field was already turning into a quagmire during warmups, as was the south end zone, where players and personnel enter and exit the field. Workers were trying their best to keep it in shape with a tractor load of dry dirt and gravel.
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Updated January 12, 2019