Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs got to enjoy something only one other team was allowed to do: rest their players to get as healthy as possible before entering the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Jacksonville Jaguars this Saturday.
While this week began with bad news regarding wide receiver Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs have enjoyed a great run of good health this season.
Kansas City coaches continue to provide little illumination about Hardman’s injury — as it is their right to do. We’ll avoid pointless speculation about it.
Meanwhile, two of the team’s four players on injured reserve — running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and tight end Jody Fortson — were designated to return, allowing them to practice with the team. Both are now within the 21-day practice window in which they could be called up to the active roster. This means that if the Chiefs continue to advance, they could available for future postseason games.
When Chiefs players have missed time with injuries, other players have stepped up. The preseason loss of tight end Blake Bell helped the emergence of tight end Noah Gray as a consistent contributor. Likewise, Edwards-Helaire’s injury allowed running backs Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon to carve out sizable offensive roles.
While we should credit the personnel and coaching departments for having these players — and helping them become contributors — the team’s training and medical staff deserves recognition for these two players being available for the postseason. Other 2022 successes include:
- Bell returning in Week 17 after preseason hip surgery, contributing with a touchdown.
- Successfully managing rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie’s hamstring strain from Week 1. While McDuffie missed several weeks of the season, he returned at 100% to become a key contributor in the secondary. According to Pro Football Focus, McDuffie finished the season with the fourth-highest coverage grade — despite the missed time.
- Managing multiple injuries to the Chiefs’ wide receiver corps. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney both missed some time during the season with injuries, but both have returned to the lineup and continued to produce at a high level.
- The team’s overall health. Kansas City has the NFL’s fewest players on injured reserve. This does, of course, require some good luck. Still, the medical and conditioning staffs must be given their due.
The NFL season is a daily grind that continues for more than four months. Fans see three hours of action on Sunday, but players and the training staff put in countless hours of work to ensure players are at their best, so they can perform at the highest possible level. Listen to player interviews. You’ll always hear credit being given to members of the training staff.
The Chiefs are widely recognized for their continuing success in this area — and ending the season with the fewest players on IR and the AFC’s top postseason seed are great measures of that success.