Heading into the 2021 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs’ backfield was banged up.
Starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire injured his ankle during the Chiefs’ Week 2 preseason win over the Arizona Cardinals and was sidelined for the remainder of August to ensure he would be healthy come September. Veteran back Darrel Williams was also injured, entering concussion protocol following the same game. That left Jerick McKinnon, Derrick Gore, and Darwin Thompson as the top healthy backs on the roster for the preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings.
With just a few days remaining until the Chiefs’ regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns, Edwards-Helaire provided us with an update on how his ankle is progressing and says he’s “ready to go.”
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Second-Year RB ‘100 Percent’ Healthy
During his press conference Wednesday, Edwards-Helaire was asked about his sprained ankle and stated, “I feel 100 percent healthy and right now I’m ready to go” for Kansas City’s season opener Sunday, according to the Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope.
“Yeah, they practiced this past week and did a nice job with it,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters Monday of Edwards-Helaire and Williams’ injury status. “It looked like they’re moving around pretty good. I think we’ll be okay there.”
KC Backfield Ready for Big Season
Now that the regular season is about to begin and all the chatter of what might happen during the 2021 season is finally going to play out, one of the more exciting aspects of Kansas City’s offense to look out for this season is the run game.
Edwards-Helaire had a disappointing — but not necessarily unproductive — rookie season, compiling 1,100 all-purpose yards — 803 rushing and 297 receiving — and five total touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. Those are great overall numbers for a rookie running back, but that wasn’t viewed as the case for Edwards-Helaire, who was a first-round pick being handed a majority of the carries in the most explosive offense in the NFL.
Heading into the 2021 season, however, the former LSU back is projected to have a breakout season.
Now in his second season, Edwards-Helaire is going to have a larger role in the passing game. Add on the fact that the Chiefs have a revamped offensive line, and the lanes to run the football will be wider, which will lead to bigger runs and bigger numbers for Edwards-Helaire this season.
In Week 1 it won’t be easy for Edwards-Helaire or the remainder of the Kansas City backfield, however. They will face a Browns defense that gave up the ninth-fewest rushing yards in the league last season, according to NFL.com. Adding former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney this offseason will improve those numbers as well. So, the production of the Chiefs’ backfield in the regular-season opener will ultimately be determined by how well the new-look offensive line holds us against Cleveland’s defensive front, which is led by another former first overall pick and All-Pro, Myles Garrett.
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