The Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs began the season 1-5, but it’s been a familiar — and divisive — player to Ravens fans who has been a key part of Kansas City’s turnaround and ensuing seven-game winning streak.
Former Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid has started the past six games at right tackle for the Chiefs, finding a consistent starting role after being an emergency starter and playing more consistently than he did at any point in Baltimore.
“Jah has been a good pickup for us, just from the stand point of we got banged up up front there, and so he was thrown in, kind of, in the action his first week here against the Texans,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “A couple games after that, he played, and then he had a little hiatus there, where he didn’t play; and we’ve had to bring him back here. So, he has been very valuable to us from that respect.”
The Ravens released Reid, a third-round NFL draft pick in 2011, at the end of training camp, a somewhat surprising move considering the Ravens kept just eight offensive linemen instead of their traditional nine.
With Ryan Jensen able to back up every position on the offensive line and several injured players at the end of camp who needed to be carried on the initial 53-man roster at other positions, Reid was released despite a strong camp that was briefly marred by a back injury.
He signed with the Chiefs, and drew the unenviable task of starting just a few days after he arrived opposite Houston Texans standout J.J. Watt. Reid started two games at right tackle before former first-round pick Eric Fisher returned, then started again in Week 7 when Fisher moved to left tackle.
The Chiefs’ boast the NFL’s seventh-best rushing attack, averaging 123.5 yards per game, and a 4.7 yards per carry mark that’s tied for fourth-best in the league. No team has more than Kansas City’s 17 rushing touchdowns.
“He has come in and [played well],” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “He came in at a tough spot when we signed him right away, and he ended up our opening day starter because of injuries, going against the Texans on the road, and did a great job from there, I think, stepping in and studying hard and cramming and being able to go then.
"And from there on, every time an opportunity came, he has played really, really well. He’s tough and gritty in there. So, that entire group, I feel like, [has] a good thing going on upfront. He’s a big part of that, just with his mindset and the attention to detail that he brings to the position.”
It’s unclear what Reid’s role would have been with this year’s Ravens team, though they’ve used six starting offensive line combinations and had to play several players at their secondary positions of late. Rick Wagner has started every game at Reid’s natural position of right tackle, but if ever there was a year for him to get an opportunity, it was this.
Reid started seven games at the end of the regular season in 2012, his second year with the team, but went on injured reserve with a toe injury before the Super Bowl run. He was a reserve from then on, battling nagging injuries and struggling to earn a role in the offense.
But Reid said the Chiefs are fortunate to have him as they fight for a playoff spot.
“He works hard,” Andy Reid said. “He has been well-coached. There are not a lot of line coaches as good as [Ravens offensive line coach] Juan Castillo. So, we were able to get a guy that had been well-coached and wanted an opportunity. He kind of got thrown into the fire right away, but he has done a good job.”
“He’s tough and gritty in there,” Smith said. “So, that entire group, I feel like, [has] a good thing going on upfront. He’s a big part of that, just with his mindset and the attention to detail that he brings to the position.”