The Kansas City Chiefs will be without wide receiver Sammy Watkins in their Divisional round game against the Cleveland Browns this weekend, as announced by head coach Andy Reid during his Friday Zoom press conference. Watkins has been dealing with the calf injury he suffered in Week 16 against the Atlanta Falcons and did not practice all week.
“We all love Sammy,” said Reid. “He’s done a heck of a job here. But like with any situation like this, we just — next guy up, and we go. I’m not sure anybody blinks on that — you giddy up and go, and that’s not because Sam’s not a great player. That’s not it. It’s just one of those things — how this team’s wired — and we do the best we possibly can, from a coaching standpoint on down with the players, just do the best you can and here we go. That’s what we’re doing.”
Watkins’ Chiefs career has been littered with regular-season injuries, but he has been reliable (and especially good) in the postseason. Watkins led the Chiefs with 176 yards in two 2018 postseason games and followed that up with a team-leading 288 yards in three 2019 postseason games.
His team-high seven-catch, 114-yard performance against the Tennessee Titans in last year’s AFC title game was a major reason the Chiefs were able to pull out the victory.
As mentioned before, the Chiefs have decent replacements on the roster for their “X” position (often aligning on the line of scrimmage), but nobody fills the role the way Watkins does.
The Chiefs have a greater need for Watkins at this time of year as they take on the best teams — and thus, defenses — in the league. Teams who make it this far are typically better prepared to potentially curb Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce’s production, meaning that third option becomes crucial. On Sunday against the Browns, it will be up to some combination of Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and Mecole Hardman to fill that void.
The Chiefs also announced rookie linebacker Willie Gay will miss the game due to his ankle injury.