Chiefs’ Week 1 Elevations Prepare for World Without Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce

Getty Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce during 2023 training camp.

The Kansas City Chiefs have elevated two players from the practice squad ahead of their regular season opener versus the Detroit Lions: tight end Matt Bushman and defensive tackle Matt Dickerson.

It should come as no surprise that both of these moves help KC prepare for a world without superstars Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. The latter will not be playing — as he awaits a new contract — and Kelce has officially been ruled “out” due to a bone bruise caused by a hyperextended knee injury in practice (per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, the Chiefs training staff tested Kelce’s knee earlier today. Assuming that check went well, the plan was for the tight end to warm up with the team and see how he felt. Alas, KC decided to err on the side of caution rather than risk re-injury.

Chiefs’ Matt Dickerson Elevation Could Mean Tershawn Wharton Is Eased Back In vs Lions

Of the Dickerson elevation, Fox 4 KC’s PJ Green said the following: “A fifth DT to add to the rotation. What’s most interesting to see is how many reps DT Turk Wharton will get tonight.”

Obviously, Dickerson will help replace Jones — who is expected to watch the Week 1 outing from an Arrowhead suite. What Green is pointing out is that his presence may also help Wharton ease back into live game action.

The interior lineman is returning from a torn ACL in 2022, and he’s made a pretty quick recovery considering his injury occurred in early October. We’ll see just how many snaps he plays against the Lions.

In general, the Chiefs are thin up the gut without Jones. They have mainstay Derrick Nnadi and rookie Keondre Coburn as nose tackles, with Wharton and Dickerson as the pass rushers.

There’s also newcomer Neil Farrell — who’s just learning the system after coming over from the Las Vegas Raiders at the 53-man cutdown — and potential tweeners Mike Danna and Malik Herring on passing downs.

It doesn’t help that free agent acquisition Charles Omenihu is suspended to start the season.

Chiefs Chairman & CEO Clark Hunt ‘Wouldn’t Bet’ Against Travis Kelce Playing vs Lions

On the morning of September 7, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. Here’s what he had to say about Kelce’s injury status before the key member of the offense was ruled out.

“I know he had a little bit of a setback the other day with a minor knee injury,” Hunt voiced. “We hope that he’ll be able to go tonight. He’ll be a game-time decision, but he’s somebody who loves to compete, so I wouldn’t bet against him being on the field tonight.”

Similarly, Kelce’s older brother Jason told the WIP Morning Show that he thought his sibling “is gonna be good to go.”

“I know he’s got some swelling going on, but it sounds like as long as they can get that down, he’s gonna have a chance to go,” Jason Kelce explained, continuing: “The ligaments and everything are intact. Structurally, from what we know right now, his knee is fine. So, really, it’s about getting that swelling down and then seeing how bruised that bone is. Because if you guys have ever had those, they can be pretty painful, especially if it’s in a spot that’s rubbing all the time. And that can kind of shut down your muscles and do other things.”

In the end, the Chiefs decided to play it safe with the hope that Kelce will return in Week 2.

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