Entering the postseason healthy was a priority for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Because of that, you saw superstar Tyreek Hill only play 14 offensive snaps in Week 18 against the Denver Broncos. You also saw starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire get an extra week of recovery.
Now, it’s playoff time and without that first-round bye, there’s no more room for caution. Every week is do or die and with the Chiefs season on the line, head coach Andy Reid provided an initial injury update on which skill-position players you might see against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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Good News From Big Red
During a video press conference on January 10, Coach Reid gave a few important status reports on the health of Patrick Mahomes’ weapons for Wildcard Weekend.
The Chiefs HC led with CEH: “[Edwards-Helaire is] making great progress. I think we’ll be able to get a little work out of him this week. We’ll see how the next couple [of] days go. He’s got a great attitude and wants to be in and be out there.”
Fellow LSU prospect and KC backup Darrel Williams also picked up an injury against the Broncos, which gave fans a taste of what Jerick McKinnon could still do in uniform.
On Williams, Reid replied: “Darrel’s toe was sore. It’s still a little tender, but he’s working through that. We’ll just see how he does this week but I anticipate him going [on Sunday].”
The biggest update was on wide receiver Tyreek Hill though, who is dealing with a heel injury.
Big Red noted that his “heel was sore after the game,” before adding that “it’s making a little progress the other way.” He continued: “We’re anticipating [Hill’s] going to be OK to go. He’s another one that wants to play every snap he can.”
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State of the Offense
Based on Reid’s assessment, Edwards-Helaire seems like the only player to seriously monitor heading into the weekend as of now. The others may get some rest throughout the week but they don’t appear to be in any danger of missing the first playoff game.
That means Mahomes will be working with a full deck against the Steelers — well, almost.
The offensive line is still missing a true starter at right tackle with Lucas Niang out for the season and Mike Remmers working his way back from the injured reserve. The positive observation is that left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and the other three starting members of this unit played all 78 offensive snaps last week.
Hill and Travis Kelce make the receiving core complete as well, and CEH would do the same for the running back room.
After Williams was shaken up in Week 18, this stable of backs turned into a trio once again. Derrick Gore finished as the rushing leader out of the three with a slim 30 yards (4.3 per) while McKinnon followed him with 24 (4.8 per). Williams only managed 17 before the injury at a poor average of 2.4 per carry.
McKinnon and Williams did add a combined six catches for 56 yards (with a TD) through the air but this group must find a way to generate more production vs. Pittsburgh. I mean, Mahomes’ 54 rush yards topped all three ball carriers and matched Gore and McKinnon added together.
After outplaying the rest of the unit in Denver, the media asked Reid what McKinnon must show to earn more touches. The HCs response was unspecific though: “The main thing was that he stayed healthy throughout here, and he’s healthy right now, so he’ll have opportunities in there if that’s the direction we go, for sure.”