First, the bad news for the Chiefs: the defensive line room has broken out with an illness. Defensive linemen Mike Danna, Chris Jones and Khalen Saunders are all out of practice on Tuesday. Jones came down with something at the end of last week but still played in the Week 15 game against the Houston Texans.
It also sounds like tight end Jody Fortson will be out for some time.
“Jody Fortson... his elbow [subluxated],” said Reid, “so he won’t practice [Tuesday] — and he’ll struggle to make it to the game as we go forward. Tough kid, but he got banged up there pretty good.”
And that led to the good news regarding Kansas City injury updates: tight end Blake Bell was designated to return from injured reserve, opening up a 21-day window in which the Chiefs can activate Bell to the 53-man roster.
With TE Jody Fortson sidelined, it appears the Chiefs have indeed designated TE Blake Bell (No. 81) to return off IR. WRs Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman also spotted during our brief media look. pic.twitter.com/dxlJ0MQPEK— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) December 20, 2022
Bell had been rehabbing all year from a hip injury he suffered during the preseason. The injury required corrective surgery. Reid added good news when it came to wide receiver Mecole Hardman.
“There’s a good chance [Hardman will be activated],” said Reid. “He’ll practice with the guys [Tuesday] and see if we can’t get him in there a little bit.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is eager to get Hardman back in the lineup. The wide receiver — who remains on injured reserve — has missed the past six games due to abdomen issues.
“He’s been ready to go, man,” Mahomes said of Hardman. “He’s been trying to get back as quickly as possible. He still has that great energy that he has in the locker room, and we’ll get him in there, hopefully, if everything goes well this week and let him get back into the role that he was in. But we have a lot of guys that are going to be shuffling in and out.”
With Kadarius Toney back in the mix last week, Hardman’s return means there will be an abundance of weapons available for Reid and the Chiefs' offense. That also means more mouths to feed, and it sounds like that has been addressed in the meeting rooms as Kansas City enters the final stretch.
“[Hardman and Toney are] both good players, and the other guys are playing good, too,” said Reid. “It’s great to see Skyy [Moore] and what he’s done now, and [Marquez Valdes-Scantling] and JuJu [Smith-Schuster], we’ve seen it before, when they’re on other teams, but they’re playing well, and... [Justin] Watson is doing a nice job — I mean, who would have thought of that at the beginning of this thing? But we’d welcome them back in whatever role we can put them all in, we’d sure do.”
“Coach Reid [has] let those guys know that everybody’s going to get a chance to play and go out there and put their stamp on the game,” added Mahomes. “I think everybody’s excited for it.”
Not to be forgotten, Reid also provided an update on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has been on injured reserve since mid-November due to a high-ankle sprain.
“He’s getting close. He’s not quite there yet, but he is getting close. He’s working his tail off, but we’ll see. He won’t be out there this week.”