The Kansas City Chiefs got the news they were all hoping for on Saturday, September 11. All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu was officially activated off the COVID-19 reserve list and is eligible to play against the Cleveland Browns Sunday.
Though activated, the team made clear shortly after that the 29-year-old remains questionable. They confirmed it’s not injury-related or due to an illness, but his game time status does make sense.
Since being placed on the COVID-19/reserve list on September 1, Mathieu has not physically been with the team in practice or any capacity, only joining in on activities virtually. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the team still wants to keep a watchful eye on the LSU product to ensure he’s both fit and healthy enough to suit up.
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“Sounds like they still want to monitor him before tomorrow,” Garafolo wrote. “He’s been idle for over a week, so we’ll see what his status winds up being vs. the Browns.”
Should Mathieu ultimately sit out, look for Armani Watts to step up in his place. Selected by Kansas City in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, Watts has the potential to become the hero of the afternoon should he perform at the caliber expected from The Landlord.
Odell Beckham Jr. Also Remains Questionable
Seems like the Browns are in a similar position as their opponent regarding the necessity of star players to be healthy enough to start Week 1. Head coach Kevin Stefanski was rather curt when asked about an update on star wideout Odell Beckham Jr.
“Not really,” Stefanski said on Friday, September 10.
The former Minnesota Vikings coach went on to say OBJ will be monitored in the 48 hours leading up to the game.
“I think he was limited today so we will use the next 48 hours with all of these guys and determine who is playing and who is not. We will let you know 90 minutes before the game,” Stefanski said. “I think for all of these guys that were limited at practice, we will make sure that we huddle up over the next 48 hours and make decisions.”
Also asked a similar question, fellow Browns receiver Jarvis Landry gave more than two words, but didn’t say much about the situation.
“Listen, he’s going at his pace. We all here support him. We all here can’t wait to see the things he’s been working on,” Landry explained. “He’s been a guy that has been struck with a lot of hardships from the injury perspective.”
As Stefanski mentioned, the Browns have 90 minutes before the 4:25 p.m. ET start time to make a final decision on OBJ.
Chris Jones on Stopping Cleveland: ‘You Have to Play Fast’
Veteran defensive end Chris Jones knows a thing or two about playing in contentious games. After having already faced a strong Cleveland side in last year’s 2020 AFC Divisional Round playoff game, the 27-year-old appears to have figured out the best way to slow down the Browns offense.
“The overall team is built to run the ball,” Jones explained, via The Chiefs Wire. “We used to have Kareem Hunt who was very aggressive, and Nick Chubb and those guys set the standard. They’ve got elite wide receivers with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, so they present all types of challenges for our defense. So, you have to play fast, physical and try to match the physicality they’re giving us.”
If Patrick Mahomes and company can put up a healthy amount of points against the Browns offense and if Kansas City’s defense can suppress Baker Mayfield’s advances, they’ll be one step closer to that 20-0 record.