On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes logged his second straight full practice ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. It's a very good sign for Mahomes, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in his right leg during the Chiefs' Divisional Round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.
Speaking to the media before Thursday's practice, head coach Andy Reid revealed that pulling Mahomes back on Wednesday proved unnecessary. On Thursday, he explained that he felt comfortable about how Mahomes was moving about the pocket.
"His feet are doing OK right now, so he still can move then," said Reid. "So he's not just throwing with all-arm. But he's got a good enough arm. You've seen him do it even when there's no ankle issue, so he'll throw some balls where he's flat-footed."
Reid added that now that the Chiefs have deemed him OK, the challenge for the quarterback is working within the game plan that has been designed to beat Cincinnati. On Wednesday, Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster described that game plan as "fire."
10 seconds of Patrick Mahomes working during our brief media look on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/HDFfHA60rQ— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) January 26, 2023
Unsurprisingly, Mahomes' week of game preparation has been different than usual. The quarterback explained that due to his injury, he is arriving a little earlier for treatment before meetings, media obligations and practice — and then there’s more rehab before watching film and heading home to sleep.
Once at home, Mahomes described that he uses "one of 8,000 different devices" to help expedite his ankle's healing process.
"Throughout the day, you have highs and lows," said Mahomes before Thursday’s practice. "You get yourself ready to go for practice, you practice hard as you can — and then after, you're obviously a little bit sorer than you were before. You work on it and do your treatment and stuff after to get in the best shape for whenever you go to sleep — and you wake up and do it all over again.
"I think progressively I've gotten better throughout the week, and I'm just going to try to keep doing that: keep that same mentality and push it — but at the same time, be ready to go whenever the game comes up."
An essential part of the week has been testing what he can do.
It sounds like Mahomes and the Chiefs' athletic training staff have him in a place where he will feel comfortable functioning out of the pocket. Those out-of-structure, on-the-run plays Mahomes has made famous may be touch-and-go against Cincinnati.
"I still feel like I could do a lot of things," Mahomes said. "We'll see as we get closer and closer — and we'll see during the game. You can't fully do exactly what you're going to be in those moments in the game, but all I can do is prepare myself the best way possible — and then, when we get in the game, you hope adrenaline kind of takes over and you can make those throws when you need to."
As expected, Reid checks in with Mahomes to gauge his status several times a day.
"I see Patrick so much during the day," explained Reid. I talk to him — and I have my normal meetings with (head athletic trainer and vice president) Rick [Burkholder] and he tells me. The best I can get from it is either from Pat — or most of all, what he's doing [while] playing.
That has gone well, per the Chiefs — although that has not stopped the masses who enjoy the NFL from playfully wondering.
"No one knows unless they get to actually put their hands on it and see it — but all I can do is prepare my body the best way possible," said Mahomes, laughing. "I've seen the videos and everything like that of me walking. I don't know what you can really get from me walking. But I think people will see on Sunday where I'm at. I'll see on Sunday where I'm at.
"I'm going to prepare my body the best way during the week to be in the best position possible."