Mitchell Schwartz is an iron man. The Chiefs tackle hasn’t missed a snap in two seasons in Kansas City or in his four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
Add the regular seasons and the amazingly consistent Schwartz has played in all 6,284 snaps taken by his offense over his 95-game NFL career.
Why mention this now?
The Chiefs visit Denver on Sunday in the season finale, and because they cannot change their No. 4 playoff seeding the lineup will shuffle.
Coach Andy Reid has announced rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes will get his first start and that Reid would “sub in, according to position, some of the younger players … there are going to be some rotations going on.”
Schwartz said he doesn’t know if that means his snap streak could be on the line. On the depth chart, Cameron Erving is listed as the backup to Schwartz on the right side and to left tackle Eric Fisher. But Schwartz said the streak is meaningful to him.
“It’s important,” Schwartz said. “You always try to be available for your team, that’s something I pride myself on. All offensive linemen do. A lot of time it’s out of your control whether you get hurt or whether things happen.
“I don’t know what Coach is going to do, but it’s a coach’s decision and you roll with that. We’ll see what happens.”
Schwartz is one three Chiefs to take every snap this season along with Smith and Fisher. One offensive line change could be in play. Right guard Parker Ehinger could step in for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who has battled a knee injury since September.
But no one is sure, or is saying. Schwartz isn’t the only player carrying a streak or approaching a milestone. Four players — safety Ron Parker, linebacker Frank Zombo, fullback Anthony Sherman and punter Dustin Colquitt — have appeared in every Chiefs game in the five-year Reid era.
Tight end Travis Kelce has caught a pass in 63 consecutive games, the team’s third-longest streak. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has 1,292 rushing yards and enters Sunday 13 yards behind NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley of the Rams.
Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy was asked how much consideration was given to steaks and milestones when crafting a game plan.
“Really, none,” Nagy said. “But we understand it. If somebody has a streak — I know with Schwartz he has a streak going on — none of this is based on a personal accomplishment, as cool of an accomplishment as it is for Mitchell.”
The Chiefs have been in this position once before under Reid. In 2013, the team was locked into its playoff position when it ended the season at San Diego. That day, seven starters, including Smith, were inactive. Six more starters were active but didn’t play. Reid went with three different starters on the offensive line from the previous week.
Earlier this season, Browns tackle Joe Thomas’ consecutive snap streak ended at 10,363, believed to be longest in NFL history. He sustained a season-ending triceps injury in an October game.
Snap counts aren’t an official NFL statistic, but being part of every huddle and every play is worn as a badge of honor. Schwartz has had his share of injuries and close calls. But he never missed a down.
“You get dinged up during games and there are some times you need the week of treatment to get better for Sunday,” Schwartz said. “You’re able to fight through them when it happens. Every guy plays through some stuff here and there.”
But never enough to keep Schwartz from taking a snap.