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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Chiefs ahead of Week 4

The shortlist of former Patriots and former Chiefs as Sunday at Arrowhead nears.

NFL: DEC 29 Chargers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The connections between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are seen more so on the staffs than on the rosters entering Week 4.

Kansas City’s vice president of sports medicine and performance, Rick Burkholder, was a summer intern on New England’s training staff in 1986. Past Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly now holds the D-line title in addition coordinating the running game for the Chiefs. Mike Kafka, the quarterbacks coach and the coordinator of Kansas City passing game, briefly resided on the New England depth chart back in 2013. And similar goes for wide receivers coach Greg Lewis, whom the Patriots acquired during the 2009 offseason from a Philadelphia Eagles team led at the time by head coach Andy Reid.

But in terms of current players, only one ex-Patriot resides in Kansas City and only one ex-Chief resides in New England ahead of Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. ET meeting at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here’s the shortlist.


Mike Pennel, defensive tackle – The Patriots signed Pennel to a two-year contract worth up to $8 million as free agency opened in March 2019. The former AFC East opponent would go on to appear in the late stages of three preseason games, including the final defensive down of the dress rehearsal. And before the August finale, Pennel would be released by New England. The product of Colorado State University-Pueblo entered the regular season on the workout tour and agreed to terms with Kansas City midway through October. A Super Bowl LIV ring would follow for Pennel. The 29-year-old registered 34 tackles and one sack up through the first Sunday of February for the Chiefs. A 6-foot-4, 330-pound presence facing the run, Pennel re-signed and made his 2020 debut Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens. He served a two-game NFL suspension to begin September.


Xavier Williams, defensive tackle – Williams would also earn a ring as a member of the Kansas City defensive line last winter. After coming over from the Arizona Cardinals on a restricted offer sheet in 2018, he checked into 25 games during his Chiefs tenure and made four starts. Accrued along the way were 66 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles up into the postseason. The 28-year-old out of Northern Iowa landed with the Patriots at the conclusion of training camp this August. Williams, listed at 6-foot-2 and 309 pounds, has spent the initial weeks of the campaign on the practice squad. But he would be a standard elevation to the New England active roster ahead of the opener versus the Miami Dolphins. Williams took the field for nine defensive snaps while notching a pair of tackles.