KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have released third-round pick KeiVarae Russell and brought back linebacker Dezman Moses on Wednesday in a surprise move just one week into the regular season.
Russell, a cornerback, had been passed over by sixth-round pick D.J. White and recent acquisition Kenneth Acker on the depth chart. Russell was the Chiefs’ second player chosen in the draft.
“Listen, we felt that was best for the Chiefs right now,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He’s a good young man and I think he has a good future, but for right now, that’s what we needed.”
The move helps to shore up special teams while providing depth at linebacker, a position group that struggled often in a 33-27 overtime victory over San Diego.
The Chiefs are already without pass rusher Justin Houston because of ACL surgery and have to limit Tamba Hali’s time to keep him healthy.
Moses was cut last week when the Chiefs needed to reach the NFL’s 53-man roster limit.
Still, it was a surprise the Chiefs gave up on Russell given how highly he was drafted. Kansas City did not have a first-round pick, so he was one of the prime selections in this year’s draft.
The Chiefs have also had success in that particular round: running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, wide receiver Chris Conley, tight end Travis Kelce, defensive lineman Allen Bailey and cornerback Philip Gaines were all third-round draft picks.
Reid characterized the move as strictly a “personnel decision.”
“I think he’s a smart kid,” he said of the former Notre Dame standout. “Again, this was just a matter of we felt for right now, this was the best move to help us out where we’re sitting.”
In other news, running back Spencer Ware sprained his toe and missed practice Wednesday, though Reid said he expects the breakout star of last week’s win to play Sunday in Houston.
Ware had 70 yards rushing and 129 yards receiving in place of Charles.
Speaking of Charles, Reid said the four-time Pro Bowl running back continues to make progress from his ACL surgery last season, though he did not say whether Charles will get on the field this week.
“Every day he gets a little bit better,” Reid said. “He’ll work in a bit with the starting group but again, we have to make sure he’s set there. We don’t want another surgery.”
Also banged up were linebacker Sam Barrington, who strained his hamstring in the opener, and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain.
“We’ll just have to see how bad that is,” Reid said.