As we head toward the weekend, the biggest question for the Kansas City Chiefs will be whether or not superstars like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill suit up.
In case you missed it, a long list of Chiefs players including the two playmakers above hit the COVID-19/reserve after testing positive this week. On Wednesday, December 22, two of those players returned to practice along with cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and rookie Joshua Kaindoh.
They were linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and wide receiver Josh Gordon. The latter could be helpful, especially if primary weapons like Hill and Kelce are sidelined.
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Mahomes Addresses Outbreak
During a press conference on December 22, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was asked about the absences and the potential of an “expanded role” for Gordon.
He stated: “The confidence I have is that [Gordon’s] done it before. He’s been able to go out there and produce at a high level in this league. He still has the talent, he still has the work ethic and now it’s just about going out there and getting more opportunities. Hopefully, we’re able to get [Kelce] and [Hill] back but if not, we have other guys that will step up and take on those roles. In part, a receiver here, a receiver there, running backs, tight ends and we’ll find a way to make up for the production that we’re missing.”
After a follow-up, Mahomes confirmed that if either Kelce or Hill were able to clear protocols, he’s confident they would be able to plug themselves right back into the starting lineup without practicing throughout the week.
“Those guys have gotten a lot of reps with me just within this offense and this league. Obviously, it’s a really complex defense that we’re facing, and they’ve played it a couple [of] times even before I was here. So, for me, as long as they’re healthy and they’re safe and they’ve passed the protocols and they’re back, we’ll throw them right back into the offense. They’ll be able to take on the roles that they’ve always had,” he responded.
Many have questioned the ability of the Chiefs’ auxiliary weapons this season with Kelce and Hill providing the bulk of the offensive production. This week more than ever, Mahomes may need other players to step up.
As of now, the following skill position players are currently available to play on Sunday.
- Running back: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Derrick Gore, Elijah McGuire (practice squad).
- Fullback: Michael Burton.
- Wide receiver: Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Gordon, Demarcus Robinson, Marcus Kemp, Daurice Fountain (practice squad), Cornell Powell (practice squad), Dalton Schoen (practice squad).
- Tight end: Noah Gray, Mark Vital (practice squad), Nakia Griffin-Stewart (practice squad).
Mahomes noted that they “haven’t really changed much” about the offense this week, concluding: “We just went out there and put a game plan together, trusting these guys to make plays happen and we got the guys to do it. We got the speed, we got the playmakers and I’m going to keep trusting in them. Hopefully, we have [Kelce] and [Hill] back, but if not, we’ll be ready to go.”
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Thoughts on COVID Threat
When asked if he’s concerned that the virus could impact the roster’s availability during the postseason, Mahomes admitted that these outbreaks can be unpredictable.
“It’s part of the world we live in today. Guys have done a good job so far of trying to keep themselves away from people but at the end of the day, COVID can hit anyone and I think you’re seeing that. All we can do is have guys step up. We have a lot of great guys in this locker room, and I have the full trust in them that they can get the job done and hopefully find a way to get the win on Sunday,” he answered.
The team leader reiterated that he doesn’t blame any of his teammates for the positive tests, voicing that he doesn’t believe players need stricter protocols.
Mahomes said: “I think guys are making the best decision for themselves and the team and their families. At the end of the day, we don’t want to tell anyone to live in a bubble. We want people to live their lives still, but at the same time try to protect themselves, protect others and do whatever they can to take the precautions to be available to play on Sundays.”