In his first public comments to the media since being knocked out of Sunday’s AFC Divisional win due to this awkward tackle, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes announced on Friday that doctors have officially cleared him from the NFL’s concussion protocol.
After limited participation in a third straight practice on Friday, the 25-year-old MVP candidate is now in line to start his third consecutive AFC Championship Game on Sunday against the No. 2 seed Buffalo Bills.
However, when asked further about what he remembers from the play on the field last weekend, Mahomes revealed a savvy veteran move he made in the heat of the moment.
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Mahomes Bought Time to Allow Chad Henne to Get Ready
Immediately after taking the hit from Cleveland Browns LB Mack Wilson that left him visibly disoriented and stumbling to his feet, Mahomes was apparently still aware enough to recognize the situation his team was in on the field — facing a key fourth-and-one near midfield with 7:11 to play in the third quarter and a dwindling 19-10 lead.
According to the Chiefs star, he tried to convince the Kansas City training staff to delay taking him to the sidelines for evaluation so that backup quarterback Chad Henne could have some extra time to warm up.
“We had an option play called that we had ran a little bit earlier in the game,” Mahomes told reporters during Friday’s team press conference. “I ran it out to the right, obviously got hit, tried to get up, felt my legs go out [and] knew that wasn’t a good thing. So, I was able to get grabbed. I remember before I got off the field I was telling the guys, the trainers to let me stay there so Chad [Henne] could warm up because I knew we were about to go for it on that fourth down. Then I went into the tests and everything like that.”
While Mahomes’ return on Sunday will spell the end of Henne’s short but sweet playoff appearance, the intuition displayed by the fourth-year signal-caller is just the latest example of the details that make him so valuable.
You can even count Wilson among those relieved to hear the news of Mahomes’ return under center this week.
Chiefs Rule out Willie Gay, List 5 Players Questionable
Kansas City also made its final rulings on the status of its other notable injured players following Friday’s practice. While Mahomes was listed without any injury designation, five key contributors have been deemed questionable for Sunday, according to the team.
This includes RBs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell, WR Sammy Watkins and CBs Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton — all of whom except Bell were limited participants in all three of the week’s practice sessions.
“The injured guys have all looked good,” head coach Andy Reid said on Friday. “They moved around — with Clyde [Edwards-Helaire], I mean — he’s done a nice job. To be specific, he’s been running around, doing a good job. Trying to get back in the flow of things, but he’s been doing well.”
The potential return of Edwards-Helaire, who has been sidelined since suffering an ugly-looking ankle and hip injury in Week 15, will be something to monitor.
In the season’s first meeting between Buffalo and Kansas City back in October, the rookie back posted a career-best 161 rushing yards on 26 carries in a 26-17 win that saw the Chiefs rush for a season-high 46 times for 245 yards. Should either of the team’s top rushers not be able to suit up, third-year backup Darrel Williams could be in line for a second consecutive playoff start.
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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!