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Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle make plays in Sammy Watkins’ absence

Two wide receivers stepped up, while one failed to record a reception

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver group acknowledged the challenge that awaited them in Week 6. Starting receiver Sammy Watkins was announced out for the game against the Buffalo Bills due to a hamstring injury; that led to three reserve pass-catchers all having opportunities to step up.

Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle all played at least one-third of the offense’s snaps. Whether they did something with them came down to their individual focus and effort.

Robinson played the second-most offensive snaps he’s ever played in a Chiefs game. The only time he topped Monday night was a 2017 overtime loss to the New York Giants where he played 72 snaps. Robinson’s five catches were the most he’s had in one game since Week 2 of 2019 — and three of them were significant plays.

Robinson gets himself open against soft off-coverage and makes a quick move on the cornerback coming downhill in an attempt to tackle. The rain was noticeable at this point, but Robinson secured the ball well and gained 22 yards in total. This play set up the first touchdown of the game to tight end Travis Kelce.

With 23 seconds before halftime and 14 yards to convert a first down, Robinson put himself in good position against Bills cornerback Josh Norman to haul in a catch on the sideline and give the Chiefs a chance at a last-second score. Kelce did fumble on the next play.

This fourth-quarter play dug the Chiefs out of a hole inside their own 15-yard line and aided them on their way to a time-consuming drive and a field goal.

Wide receiver Byron Pringle caught the only two passes thrown his way — and one might have been the most important reception of the entire night. After a near-disaster when running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire appeared to fumble the ball on the team’s first play of their final drive, the Chiefs inexplicably threw a screen pass to backup tight end Nick Keizer for a minimal gain. This set up a third down with 12 yards to convert.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes made sure to give himself time and wait for a receiver to come open downfield — and that’s exactly what Byron Pringle did.

The scramble drill was executed perfectly on both sides, and it led to the game-sealing score. Mahomes praised the team’s fifth wide receiver when given the opportunity.

“I’ve always thought highly of Pringle,” Mahomes shared with reporters in the post-game press conference. “He comes in every single day, he works extremely hard and when his number gets called, he makes plays. He’s someone that stuck with us for a while. I’m sure he’s gotten opportunities to try to go somewhere else, but he’s been with us and he’s made plays.

“On that one, he was kind of not even in the read,” Mahomes admitted. “The read, I was looking at Tyreek (Hill) and came back to (Travis) Kelce and their safety drove it pretty well, so I extended the play and Byron kept working like he always does and I found him at a big time.”

The disappointment of the night was second-year wideout Mecole Hardman. He did not record a catch in the game — and his only target could have turned into a very negative play for his team.

These little things are what will hurt a player’s playing time. In the Week 3 win over the Baltimore Ravens, running back Darwin Thompson fumbled the ball during an important second-half drive. He didn’t see the field for the offense again until Monday night.

Hardman didn’t see another target for the remainder of the game. In a game where Robinson and Pringle could make plays, it was disappointing that the 2019 second-round pick in Hardman could not. It will be significant if Pringle begins eating into Hardman’s playing time moving forward.