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Chiefs injury outlook ahead of training camp

Our in-house injury expert, Aaron Borgmann, checks in to provide some insight ahead of Chiefs camp in a few weeks.

With the five-week break for the summer now here, it is time to recap and look forward with some of the injury concerns for the Chiefs heading into training camp. Some of these are known quantities that we have information about, and in some cases, we have less.

Going off of what we know and what has been confirmed, here is where the Chiefs stand:

The big names

NFL: AFC Championship Game-New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

TE Travis Kelce

What we know is that Kelce has had a surgical procedure on his ankle. That’s about it. No information about what kind of surgery, location, severity or even which side. I would assume that this was some ligament issue or bony concern based upon length of absence as opposed to a simple cleanup procedure.

We know that it was significant enough to limit him to no offseason work with the team. However, that shouldn’t really concern people much. Based upon the limited video that we have seen of him out there, he appears to be moving well and with his track record of not only playing through injuries but also coming back from multiple surgeries over the course of his career, fans should have very limited worry that Kelce wont return to form.

Expect him to be limited in some part early in camp simply due to the layoff in action, but I anticipate a full go when it comes to the regular season.

OL Cam Erving

Similar to Kelce, we have limited info and have only been given “shoulder surgery.” Also, similar to Kelce, given Erving’s absence from all offseason work and the timing of surgery, I am confident this was not a minor procedure and most likely a labral or rotator cuff issue (or both) that had to be repaired. Often these issues go hand in hand.

Given that those timeframes vary from anywhere to four to six months depending on the amount of repair and based upon the fact that that he most likely had the surgery in February, this all seems to make sense. If that is indeed the case (a typical procedure many have done), expect limitations early in camp with a gradual return to full practice and possibly game action toward the end of preseason. I also anticipate this player to be full go for regular season action barring any setbacks.

The newly-acquired players

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur (14) is sacked by Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders linebacker Darius Harris (30) during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

DE Tim Ward

Ward had ACL reconstruction in November of 2018. From what we have read and been told so far, it appears that this player may be shelved for a “redshirt” year due to this injury. Not always a negative for an incoming college player, this gives him a year to learn, get stronger and be prepped for a better chance at making the team in the future. It is very hard for an injured collegiate player to make an NFL roster after having zero offseason work with new team. Anticipate injured reserve for the full season at this time.

LB Darius Harris

From what is known, it appears Harris had some sort of undisclosed shoulder injury before he was signed that will sideline him for at least a little while. It has been reported that he could miss part of training camp or longer. Without more knowledge of condition, it’s impossible to speculate. Based on some comments, it seems as if the team thinks he may be able to contribute this year at some point, but he could be in line for a “redshirt” IR year as well, similar to Ward. If the team sees progress with the injury and likes the upside of Ward, he could be a PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) lost candidate. We will need to wait for more info on this one.

S Juan Thornhill

This player suffered a calf strain late in OTAs and had to miss all of mandatory minicamp. We have been told that it is precautionary and without evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to think otherwise. Its not atypical for younger players to come into offseason workouts and have muscular issues due to the high volume of work in OTAs and minicamps. This player will likely recover fully from this injury soon and be fully rehabbed in time for training camp. While calves can be tricky injuries to get over, especially in skill-position players, he has the time to get right. It is something to keep in mind, but this player will likely be full go for camp.

TE Deon Yelder

Another new player with a muscular injury we were informed was a hamstring. Again, we were told this was simply precautionary. With Kelce out, the other tight ends are getting a lot of reps, and this could be related to that. Similar to Thornhill, he has a lot of time to make sure he is right for camp, as there are no shortage of reps there. I would expect him to be full go at start of camp and hope that he can maintain throughout, as these can nag in the day to day grind of pre-season.

Finished last season on injured reserve

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

OL Laurent Duvernay Tardif, WR Byron Pringle, S Armani Watts

All of these players finished the season on IR and have been practicing fully with the team from what we have seen and been told. There is no reason to expect less than the level of participation at the start of training camp unless a new injury or setback occurs.

LB Rob McCray

McCray was placed on the practice squad injured list with an undisclosed injury in October of 2018 and re-signed to a futures contract this offseason. He has reportedly been practicing with the team this offseason. Have to assume that whatever the injury was, he has now recovered and should be ready to go for camp.

Aaron Borgmann is the founder of Borgmann Rehab Solutions. He spent 12 years in the NFL as an assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist before joining Arrowhead Pride.

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