After a week of progressing through the NFL’s concussion protocol, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes was officially cleared on Friday and will start today’s AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills.
However, a new development from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport on Sunday morning revealed that the 25-year-old superstar is still dealing with a “legitimate issue” related to the left toe injury also suffered early in last Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns.
“[Mahomes] is cleared, he is going to play today,” Rapoport said on Sunday. “However, I am also told that Patrick Mahomes was diagnosed with turf toe on his left foot. You saw him hobbling around during last week’s game — clearly was not 100%. This, from what I understand, has affected him much more than being in the concussion protocol. Obviously, something to watch today because he is not going to be full strength. As far as after the season, I’m told the thought right now is he does not need surgery, but he is going to meet with a specialist whenever the season ends to determine that fully.”
From @NFLGameDay: #Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is out of the concussion protocol… but turf toe is a legitimate issue. He’ll see a specialist after the season to determine if he needs surgery. pic.twitter.com/q2kOObBuMc
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 24, 2021
Rapoport also noted on NFL.com that the toe “limited his effectiveness on the field last week and during practice this week.”
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Mahomes Was Limited in All 3 Chiefs Practices This Week
After head coach Andy Reid opened the week saying, “I think we’ll be alright” in regard to Mahomes’ toe, his quarterback acknowledged on Friday that his ailing toe was pretty painful on Monday, but improved as the week went on.
“It’s feeling a lot better,” Mahomes told reporters during his Friday press conference. “I mean the next day it was very sore and then every single day since then it has gotten a lot better. It’s stuff you deal with being a football player, you deal with injures and luckily enough for me, this wasn’t as bad as it looked and felt the day of and the day after.”
Both Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy also noted late in the week that Mahomes “looked good” out on the practice field.
Andy Reid on Patrick Mahomes: "Pat looked good out there. … He's moving around well. He feels good. It's just important we follow the protocol, and that's what we're doing."
— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) January 21, 2021
Eric Bieniemy on Patrick Mahomes this week, before laughing: "He looks like Pat to me."
— Joshua Brisco (@jbbrisco) January 21, 2021
While it was good to see the MVP candidate back moving around preparing for the Bills, he was (at least slightly) favoring his left foot in videos taken during the early media portion of practice on Thursday and Friday.
— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) January 21, 2021
— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) January 22, 2021
Despite the toe issue though, the Chiefs did not list any injury designation for Mahomes headed into their third consecutive appearance in the AFC title game.
Le’Veon Bell Likely Out on Sunday, Limited Optimism on Sammy Watkins
Early on Sunday morning, Rapoport, along with ESPN’s Adam Schefter provided some key injury updates on a number of Mahomes’ offensive weapons, including Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Le’Veon Bell and Sammy Watkins.
According to both insiders, the Chiefs’ rookie running back is expected to see his first playing action since exiting the team’s Week 15 win in New Orleans.
Chiefs likely will have running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire but be without Le'Veon Bell for today’s AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills, per source.
Additionally, the Chiefs will test WR Sammy Watkins pregame, but don’t sound optimistic he will play today.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 24, 2021
The #Chiefs will have RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle, hip) today vs the #Bills, source said, but RB Le'Veon Bell (knee) is not expected to play. Both were listed as questionable. Meanwhile, WR Sammy Watkins (calf) is a game-time decision.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 24, 2021
However, the likely absence of Bell should keep third-year backup Darrel Williams firmly in the mix alongside Edwards-Helaire. Considering Mahomes’ discomfort and that Kansas City posted a season-high 46 carries and 245 rushing yards in the team’s Week 6 win in Buffalo, Reid and company many elect to go heavy on the ground again on Sunday.
The potential for Watkins to miss Sunday’s playoff tilt could further push the Chiefs in that direction, though Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson have proved capable of slotting in behind workhorses Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the passing game.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!