Kansas City Chiefs' Chris Jones does yoga to prepare for switch to defensive end

Chiefs lineman eager to tackle defensive end

Sam McDowell
The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl tackle Chris Jones (95) added yoga to his offseason routine in order to prepare for a switch to defensive end.

In late March, a couple of weeks into the offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs telegraphed plans for one of their most drastic changes. They reached an agreement with free agent Jarran Reed, though the consequence of the signing required a core player to switch positions.

When they ultimately approached Pro Bowler Chris Jones about moving from the interior of the defensive line — which Reed occupies — to the edge, Jones had a one-word reply.

"Finally," he said.

In truth, Jones has always wanted to play defensive end, even as he racked up 38 1/2 sacks over the past four seasons. Finally provided the opportunity, his preparation began almost immediately.

With film. With workouts.

And yoga?

Yes, yoga — in addition to his normal pilates routine — became a regular part of Jones' summer. A very regular part of his summer, actually. He found himself completing a yoga or pilates workout about three times each week.

But how does that relate to his position change?

"I usually do the pilates during the offseason, but I started a little earlier this year for my flexibility," Jones said. "Bending (around) the edge is a little different than taking the turn on a three-tech. I'm gonna be a little more flexible, a little more lean bending on the edge."

A lot more lean.

Jones estimated he dropped 15-20 pounds this offseason, purely in preparation for the move. He played around 310 pounds last season and sits at 292 entering camp — despite a trip to Popeye's on arrival day that included a chicken sandwich, three chicken strips, a biscuit, fries and 12 chicken nuggets.

That's how his first day went.

His second? He would've recorded a sack during Thursday's practice had he been permitted to take down quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who of course is wearing a yellow no-contact jersey. Jones rushed around the edge and got there before Mahomes had released the football.

"Listen, I feel good rushing off the edge, OK?" Jones said. "I know it's Year Six.; I'm a little old; I'm a veteran in the room. But I feel so good rushing off the edge."

He's played defensive end before, though that was in former coordinator Bob Sutton's 3-4 base. This will be an adjustment, Jones said. He's watched film of some of the league's top edge rushers.

His new coordinator has wrestled with how it will all work out. Reed's addition undoubtedly gave Steve Spagnuolo some more versatility with Jones, his most productive all-around pass rusher. But moving a player from a position in which he's among the best in the league to a new spot carries at least some risk.

Is it worth it?

"I have posed that to myself quite a bit — because he is an imposing player inside; we all know that," Spagnuolo said. "If we move him outside on a number of snaps — and he's going to have to be flexible to do both — we will miss that (production on the inside). Hopefully we gain something on the edge."

Spagnuolo has thought about it much of the offseason as it's been among the most covered Chiefs topics of the offseason.

But don't assume it's permanent.

Jones expects to spend the bulk of his time at defensive end in 2021. That doesn't mean all of it. He didn't simply forget how to play on the interior.

In fact, to prepare for both spots, he's settled his weight somewhere in a happy medium — light enough to bend around the edge, big enough to power rush through double teams in the middle.

"I'm not a real d-end," he said. "Spags is gonna move me around most likely. I'm gonna be playing both spots, depending on game plan and who we're playing and what's the best matchup. So I just try to put myself where I can play 3-tech the whole game or d-end the whole game."