Returning Chiefs Veteran Could Fill-in for Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Jerick McKinnon

Getty Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon turns toward the end zone on August 20, 2021.

It looks like Kansas City Chiefs starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be a game-time decision for Week 17 after injuring his collarbone against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is good news considering a broken collarbone would have likely sidelined ‘CEH’ for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. Still, it puts his status up in the air for the pivotal matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Head coach Andy Reid addressed the situation at running back and the potential contingency plan, should Edwards-Helaire miss Sunday’s contest.

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Big Red’s CEH Update

To begin his December 31 press conference, the Chiefs HC stated: “The only one that didn’t practice today is Clyde [Edwards-Helaire]. He is making progress, but not good enough to make it today. We’ll just have to see as far as the game, but I have confidence if he can get back, he can go. He knows what we’re doing.”

Reid added that he would “presume” CEH will be a game-time decision. “We’ll see how he does here, but the best part is that he’s making progress. You never know about those things, but he’s heading in the right direction here and that’s a plus,” he elaborated.

If the LSU product does not play, the Chiefs would only have two running backs on the active roster — Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore.

Reid confirmed that veteran Jerick McKinnon could be in line to reclaim that third role in the stable, should CEH miss the contest. “Yeah, [McKinnon’s] been able to work in and get some work done. So, if [Edwards-Helaire] can’t be back, then he’ll jump in.”

The former Minnesota Vikings back has been out with a hamstring injury since Week 11 and it’s been a lackluster campaign for the 29-year old when he’s played.

McKinnon has become more of a receiving threat later in his career with 81 yards through the air this season compared to 38 on the ground. He would offer Patrick Mahomes another option out of the backfield, should he factor in.

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Williams & Gore Shine vs. Steelers

Whether CEH or McKinnon is out there, perhaps the lead-back should be Williams. The backup put together another solid performance in Week 16 and he’s outperformed Edwards-Helaire in all-purpose yardage this season.

Sure, the former first-round pick has missed five games but Williams has only started five himself. Against the Steelers, he ran for 5.0 yards per carry, compared to 3.0 YPC from Edwards-Helaire.

Williams also offers much more in the passing game, from his outrageous catch against the Las Vegas Raiders to his consistency as a dual-threat this year. The undrafted prospect had 85 total yards versus Pittsburgh off 14 touches.

Another former UDFA, Gore, has also impressed. He was able to come down with a 50-yard bomb in Week 16 and he added another 43 yards on the ground. In total, it ended up being his best performance of the season with 104 all-purpose yards.

Williams, Gore and McKinnon are all set to hit free agency in 2022 and you’d hope that at least two of the three are back next year. At the same time, it’ll be interesting to see if Williams and Gore can continue to push Edwards-Helaire for reps heading into the postseason.


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