Then newly-acquired receiver Kadarius Toney left during the first half of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, further testing Kansas City’s depth. The other guys in the room, however, responded with a strong performance. Rookie Skyy Moore recorded five catches for 63 yards in the best game of his young career. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reflected on Moore’s game when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.
“It was big,” said Mahomes. “Just a confidence-booster. He’s someone who puts in the work every day. We have a lot of guys in that receiving room, so the ball gets spread out a ton. He hasn’t gotten the numbers that I think we thought he was going to have going into the season.
“[So] for him to make big catches in big moments in a big game? It shows that all that hard work that he puts in every day is paying off — and he’s someone that will be a contributor to this team for a long time.”
Moore carries heavy expectations after joining the team as a second-round selection in April’s draft. Fellow receiver Justin Watson, however, has a much less heralded pedigree after four middling seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While offseason workouts were underway, we began hearing that Watson had impressed Mahomes during the quarterback’s informal throwing sessions in Texas. On Sunday, Watson finished with three catches for 67 yards — and earned praise from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid for how his route-running opened up tight end Travis Kelce for the game-winning touchdown.
Watson’s play this season has solidified Mahomes’ assessment of the former Ivy Leaguer.
“I knew we had signed him, but I just texted him and told him to come down,” recalled Mahomes. “You saw the first day in Texas how well he ran routes [and] how fast he was. I knew he had a chance to make the team at that time — but we had a lot of competition in that room.”
Mahomes believes that the competition helped Watson stand out as a teammate — and to be ready for such a situation.
“I think it kind of made [Watson] even better — with the competition,” he remarked. “He accepted the challenge. He was helping other guys. He was getting reps in whenever he could in training camp. If a guy went down, he was the first guy to hop up. I think that’s proven to be why he’s had so much success this season.
“Whenever guys have gone down or he’s had to hop in for a rep, he makes the most of it. You have to have those guys — because when we have a situation like we had in this last game, he can be that guy to step up and make a lot of big plays for us.”
While the bench more than held its own against the Chargers, Mahomes is eager to see Smith-Schuster back in the lineup as soon as possible — both for his production and intangibles. The wide receiver — whom Mahomes called a “dynamic playmaker” — reportedly returned to practice on Wednesday.
“Hopefully, everything goes well with the [concussion] protocol and everything like that — and he’s healthy and ready to go,” said Mahomes. “To have that energy on the sideline again? He’s obviously a great player, but [also] a great teammate — so you always want to get those guys back in the huddle.”