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Andy Reid invites St. Louis fans to follow Chiefs

Andy Reid

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid pumps his fist to fans following an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. The Kansas City Chiefs won 23-17. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

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BOCA RATON, Fla. • It’s not as if the Kansas City Chiefs have a shortage of fans or anything. Nonetheless, Andy Reid cordially invites disenfranchised pro football fans in St. Louis to join the Sea of Red at Arrowhead Stadium.

“Absolutely,” Reid said. “Come on down. You know that. You just have to get through Columbia. You’ve gotta get past Columbia and then let’s go.”

Reid even provided a brief sales pitch on why the Chiefs are a good team to follow.

“First off, there’s no place better to play than Arrowhead. I mean, it’s phenomenal,” he said. “The environment’s tremendous. The Hunts have made it that way. It’s a great fan experience. And then the product out there. John Dorsey’s done a great job of bringing good players in here that are fun to watch.”

The Hunt family, of course, owns the team; Dorsey is the Chiefs’ general manager.

“We’ve got old, we’ve got new,” Reid said. “It’s a great blend. We have a chance to be a pretty good football team. We’ve gotta do the right things this offseason in preparation for it as players and coaches, but we have a chance to be a decent football team. And I think every fan wants to follow a team that has a chance.”

In 17 seasons as an NFL coach, the first 14 of which were with Philadelphia, almost every Reid team has had a chance. He has 161 career victories and has taken 11 teams to the postseason.

Once a University of Missouri assistant under Bob Stull, Reid is 32-19 in three seasons with the Chiefs. Last year’s team overcame a 1-5 start and a season-ending knee injury to star running back Jamaal Charles in Game 5 to finish the regular season 11-5 and reach the second round of the playoffs.

Now Reid wants his team to take the next step, or a couple of more steps, in 2016.

“We got a taste of it, how long the season is,” Reid said. “Even just going into the second round. So you have to prepare yourself that way.

“It’s not just preparing for 16 games, you prepare for 20. When you’re going for that 10th rep, it’s (saying) I’m doing that extra lap, that extra sprint. I’m putting it down so that I’m there for the whole duration, until you get to that Super Bowl.”

Reid spoke Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. He is not attending the NFL owners meetings because of complications from knee replacement surgery. Reid missed the NFL Scouting Combine last month because of the surgery and was forced to miss the owners meetings because of an infection in the knee.

“I’ve got about probably three to four more weeks in the process of just getting the infection out of there,” Reid said. “And it’s a non-weight-bearing process, so my arms are getting in good shape. I think we’re on the down side of the infection part of it, and then we’ll get the replacement put in in a month or so. And we’ll go from there.”

Reid did the conference call in lieu of his annual appearance at Tuesday’s AFC coaches breakfast at the league meetings. Reid said he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt for the occasion and joked that there would be more eggs Benedict available for reporters without him on the scene.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Reid’s injury isn’t the worst knee problem for the team these days. The Chiefs announced Tuesday that Pro Bowl linebacker Justin Houston had surgery last month to repair his anterior cruciate ligament.

Speaking at the start of Reid’s conference call, Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said the surgery took place Feb. 16.

“It was a little bit tricky because his ACL wasn’t torn but it wasn’t functioning the way it should, and so Dr. (James) Andrews fixed that,” Burkholder said. “As you know, those are six- to 12-month recoveries so it’s too early too tell where he’s at right now. But he’s on the road to recovery.”

Houston had double-digit sacks for three consecutive seasons from 2012 through 2014, including 22 in 2014. After recording 7½ sacks in the Chiefs’ first 11 games last season, Houston missed the final five regular season contests, although he returned for the team’s two playoff games.

A six-month recovery for Houston would have him returning in mid-August. A 12-month process would sideline him for the entire 2016 season.

“Just because of his work ethic and he’s been a fast healer in the past, we’re hoping that that’s not the case,” Reid said. “That he’ll play this season, just depending on when and where that is. It’s too early to be able to tell.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs are in the process of appealing tampering penalties imposed by the league in the signing of free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last year.

“Listen, I can’t get into all that,” Reid said Tuesday. “You understand. With the appeal process being what it is, I’m just staying away from all of the appeals questions, I guess. And just let it take place — what happens, happens and we’ll see.”

The Chiefs forfeited a third-round draft pick this year, and a sixth-rounder in 2017 for having improper contact with Maclin (Missouri, Kirkwood High) just before the start of the 2015 free-agent period. In addition, the club was fined $250,000, with Reid fined $75,000 and Dorsey $25,000.

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