INDIANAPOLIS — Kendall Langford has built his career out of finding a way into the lineup each and every week, now in his ninth year in the NFL.
For now, however, Langford — who has the longest active games-played streak among all NFL defensive linemen — will be forced to sit out for the first time in 135 career regular season games.
Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed Friday that Langford will not play in Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium, as the veteran defensive end continues to deal with a right knee issue that required minor surgery early during training camp.
"He's been battling through that thing and just never really got right," Pagano told reporters today.
Langford signed with the Colts as a free agent in March 2015 after seven productive seasons with the Miami Dolphins and the St. Louis Rams. He made an immediate impact on the Indianapolis defense, turning in a career year last season with 40 total tackles (10 for a loss), a team-high-tying seven sacks and three passes defensed in 16 games, all starts.
He entered the 2016 offseason sure to play a similar role for the Colts once again, only with a little more competition and depth along the defensive line. But a nagging injury to his right knee only got worse, so Langford and the team elected to go with minor surgery to clean everything up on Aug. 8.
Langford returned just in time for Week 1 to keep his games played streak alive, but hadn't seen nearly the same amount of production through seven games this season, all starts, collecting 11 tackles — with no sacks — two passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
"He's a tough, tough guy. He's an iron man, a warrior," Pagano said. "He wants to play. He wants to be out there. I know that. His teammates know that. But finally we just said, 'Let's shut him down for a little bit.' Get that thing totally calmed down and healed where he can get back to playing winning football."
Pagano said there's no real set timetable for Langford's return. The most important thing is to make sure the Hampton product has the opportunity to get fully healed up before he makes his return to the field for the Colts' defense.
"He wants to be out there with his teammates, but we just have to give him some time, let him heal," Pagano said.
While replacing Langford will be difficult from a leadership perspective, the Colts do have several options to plug-and-play into his spot along the defensive line, mostly in the form of younger players who have the ability to play both inside and outside, including Zach Kerr (ankle), who returns after missing last week's game against the Tennessee Titans, as well as rookie Hassan Ridgeway.