Crennel said that Hali will practice with the team throughout the preseason, but indicated that it could become a balancing act between keeping him in the rotation and making sure that the guys available for the regular-season opener are prepared.
Andy Studebaker is the first in line to replace Hali in the base defense.
He’s a former sixth-round pick who has turned into a valuable backup in Kansas City, where he’s started seven of the 54 games he’s played across four seasons. But he’s not known for putting pressure on the quarterback, something the Chiefs will sorely miss with Hali on the sideline.
“You know, we always look at guys and what’s going to happen, but Studebaker has played both left and right for us,” Crennel said. “We’ll look the next week and half and see how it goes, and when we start preparing for the Atlanta game, we’ll determine how we’re going to approach it.”
The other option is Cameron Sheffield, who played sparingly in all 16 games last year.
Sheffield has shown some ability to pressure the passer, but only has nine career tackles and is more likely to see time on the field in the Chiefs’ sub package.
That means linebacker Justin Houston, who starts on the opposite side of the defense, will be critical to putting pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, and trying to disrupt the timing with a talented wide receiver corps that features Roddy White and Julio Jones.