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JuJu Smith-Schuster respects what Mecole Hardman does behind the scenes

Kansas City’s speedy wideout hasn’t played since Week 9, but has played an important role with the team.

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman missed the first game of his four-year career in Week 10’s 27-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has not returned to the field since then, due to what has alternately been described as an abdominal issue, an illness — or more recently — a pelvis injury.

On Thursday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid confirmed that Hardman’s two-month absence will continue when the Jaguars return to Arrowhead Stadium for their Divisional Round matchup on Saturday. After not practicing all week, Hardman was listed as out on the final injury report.

Speaking after Thursday’s practice, Kansas City wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster expressed confidence that players such as Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore can continue to compensate for Hardman’s absence. But he also stressed that even while he’s been out, Hardman is doing what he can to help the team.

“Guys like K.T., Skyy — they’re stepping up in a big role,” Smith-Schuster observed. “Mecole’s a great player. He’s helped us out tremendously — and he’s still helping us now, getting the guys ready as far as the stuff that has carried for Mecole.

“I think the chemistry is everyone just working together. The No. 1 goal is to win the game and make it to the next round. It’s just nice that we have so many players to play different positions and still go out there and still perform.”

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Though Hardman is in the last season of his rookie contract, Smith-Schuster credited his leadership in the room.

“Just in meeting rooms helping us out with the young guys,” he said of his teammate’s contributions. “Just kind of what a vet would do.”

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