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Chiefs begin Chargers’ prep week with depleted wide receiver room

As the week begins, Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are not practicing.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs began preparation for the Los Angeles Chargers on Wednesday as they deal with several injuries, as announced by head coach Andy Reid during the week’s initial press conference.

Reid said that wide receiver Mecole Hardman will miss his fourth straight practice due to an illness to his abdomen — but did add Hardman is getting better. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerback Chris Lammons are in the league’s concussion protocol after suffering head injuries during Sunday’s 27-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was also held out of practice because he is sick.

There has been league-wide concern regarding the status of Smith-Schuster, who suffered a brutal helmet-to-helmet shot against the Jaguars — but as of Wednesday, Reid had no further information.

“You take it day by day,” said Reid of the wideout. “We’ll be cautious with it. We’re not going to do anything you shouldn’t do according to what the data shows and how he feels.”

Hardman, Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling not practicing means that Wednesday’s practice will feature a wide receiver room of Justin Watson, newcomer Kadarius Toney and rookie Skyy Moore.

“We’re good,” expressed Reid. “We’ve got a couple of other guys. You’ve seen [Marcus Kemp] up a few weeks — not this past game, but the two before that. We know he can do it. We’re fine there.”

Wide receivers Cornell Powell and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are other practice-squad options for the Chiefs.

“We put guys in positions [for] success,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the receivers he would be working with Wednesday. “For me, it’s about executing the offense: find the open guy and get the ball out of my hands, letting those guys make plays. We’ve seen over the years that these guys can make plays in big moments, and so we’ll give them those chances as well as have some younger guys step up. Then hopefully, we can get some guys back later in the week — and if not, we’ll be ready to go with whoever’s out there.”

Of the healthy trio on the 53-man roster — Watson, Toney and Moore — Watson has played the most, as he has been involved in 24.2% of the club’s 2022 offensive snaps. Watson’s made seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s made a lot of big catches in big parts of games,” said Mahomes of Watson. “He does a great job of blocking. In that last game, whenever we had some guys go out there back-to-back, he was kind of telling guys, ‘Hey, you go to this position — you take JuJu’s role, you take Marquez’s role.’ He knows every position on the football field, and he just wants to go out there and have success. Having guys like that in the whole receiving room now, I think we’ll be fine in just going out there and executing the offense.”

After right tackle Andrew Wylie suffered an elbow injury last game, he is already back to practice, per Reid.

“They braced it — he has a brace on it,” said Reid. “He feels pretty good.”

Offensive lineman Lucas Niang was also on the field for the final practice week of his 21-day window. Defensive end Frank Clark has returned to the field after his two-game suspension.

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