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Bieniemy stays, Watkins likely to play

The Kansas City Chiefs appear set to hold on to Eric Bieniemy as their offensive coordinator, although they may already have a replacement lined up in the event that he eventually finds a head coaching spot. 

Bieniemy was reported to have interviewed last week for jobs with the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arizona Cardinals. Now that all those jobs are filled (or in the case of the Bengals, have a candidate who is expected to be hired), Bieniemy seems set to be with the Chiefs as the offensive coordinator for at least one more season. And when Bieniemy is gone, the Chiefs (via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network) are expected to replace him with 31-year-old quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka, who joined the Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach in 2017.

(Bieniemy’s) not going to end up as a head coach during this cycle,” Rapoport said Saturday morning. “All the jobs that he was up for … are expected to be filled, so he will stay in Kansas City — which by the way is a great thing for the organization. I know Andy Reid thinks incredibly highly of him. But whenever he does leave, they do have the heir apparent all ready. That Andy Reid tree is already growing and growing more and more branches. Mike Kafka, the quarterbacks coach there, is expected to be the next OC whenever Bieniemy gets a head coaching job. This is a guy that Reid liked, a former quarterback. He has groomed him, and they think that he has done incredible things with Patrick Mahomes, helping him have basically the MVP season he has had.”

Kafka, who had stints as a quarterback with the Eagles, Patriots, Jaguars, Buccaneers, Vikings, Titans, and Bengals, has been regarded for some time as one of the rising stars on the Kansas City staff and a possible replacement for Bieniemy whenever opportunity lands Bieniemy elsewhere. It remains to be seen when that will happen, but it’s clear the Chiefs have their succession plan at the offensive coordinator position thought out well in advance. 

* Saturday injury news: The Chiefs appear likely to get one key player back today in wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who was a practice participant this week after missing six of the last seven games due to a foot injury. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star reported Saturday morning Watkins was expected to play against the Indianapolis Colts in today’s Divisional Playoff game.

“The expectation is that Sammy Watkins is probably not 100 percent (who is?) but close enough to make a difference, especially in this weather,” Mellinger tweeted.

Not as clear are the statuses of running back Spencer Ware and safety Eric Berry. Ware missed the past three games with a hamstring injury while Berry became a non-participant at practice last week while continuing to battle with heel problems. Both players, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, are in doubt to play against the Colts today. Damien Williams will likely continue to start at running back if Ware is out of the lineup, while Jordan Lucas and Eric Murray are the likely candidates to fill in for Berry. 

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