Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Three days before kickoff of their Week 9 matchup with the Carolina Panthers, the Kansas City Chiefs have lost arguably the best player on their defense. As reported by ESPN and NFL Network, the team placed star defensive tackle Chris Jones on the COVID-19 reserve list Thursday. Although Jones himself has not contracted the virus, per Mike Garafolo, his recent close contact with an infection dictates that he’ll be out for Sunday’s game.

Jones’ abrupt unavailability comes on a busy day and week for COVID news around the NFL, with more than 40 percent of all teams¬†encountering positive cases or close contacts and some, like the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in Thursday night’s Week 9 kickoff, set to rely almost exclusively on backups at entire position groups because of sidelined starters.

Because Jones has reportedly not tested positive for COVID-19, other Chiefs defensive linemen are still in line to suit up against the Panthers on Sunday. Should test results change in the coming days, however, there would be ripple effects.

Jones’ absence alone is notable considering the production he provides Kansas City’s front four. The 26-year-old Pro Bowler, who this July signed a four-year, $80 million extension, logged 24.5 sacks between 2018-2019 and has already added another 4.5 in eight games this year. During K.C.’s current three-game win streak, he’s totaled six tackles, one sack and five quarterback hits.

Reserves Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders are likely to fill in opposite Derrick Nnadi at defensive tackle this Sunday.

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