The Kansas City Chiefs saw four players who have been out of the lineup return to practice on Thursday, four days ahead of the team’s Christmas Day matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium: running back Isiah Pacheco, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, left tackle Donovan Smith and cornerback Joshua Williams.
RB Isiah Pacheco
After missing two games as a result of a shoulder cleanup procedure, all signs point to Pacheco being available against the Raiders. In the two games without Pacheco, backup Clyde Edwards-Helaire filled in admirably, compiling 169 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 30 touches.
“I think [Pacheco will] be a full workload (against the Raiders),” said Reid. “With that, we’ve got backup relief if he needs to come out. Clyde, we’ve got all kinds of confidence in Clyde stepping in.”
WR Mecole Hardman
The Chiefs’ wide receiver (and returner) is still on injured reserve, but he was designated to return on Thursday. The move opens up a 21-day window in which Hardman can practice with the club.
“He’ll be out there,” said Reid of Hardman. “He’ll be out there [Thursday] and get some work in, just see how he does.”
It sounds as though Hardman will use this week to ease in with eyes on a possible return next week or beyond.
OT Donovan Smith
After missing two straight games due to a neck stinger, Smith was spotted back in the mix on Thursday. The nine-year veteran’s return does not necessarily mean he will be directly reinserted into his starting left tackle spot.
According to Pro Football Focus, rookie third-rounder Wayna Morris — who filled in for Smith during his two-game absence — has graded better than him in terms of both run and pass blocking during the 2023 season. There is a good chance the rookie will hold onto the job.
“What you know is that he’s a battler,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said of Morris. “He’s someone that’s going to go out there and fight the entire game. He’s getting better and better at technique and little things that we do in our offense and how coach Heck wants it. I think what you do know is that he’s going to finish every play. He’s going to go out there, and if he loses a rep, he’s going to come back that next rep with the mentality he’s going to win that one, and he’s not going to let anything affect his mentality.
“It’s great whenever you can throw a guy in there like that, a young guy, and he steps up to the plate — and he hits a base hit, or he hits a home run. He’s ready to go. Whenever his number gets called, he’s going to be ready to play.”
CB Joshua Williams
Cornerback Joshua Williams was a late add to the injury report due to an illness this past weekend as the Chiefs prepared to take on the New England Patriots, and he did not play in the game.
The second-year cornerback, who has played 26% of defensive snaps this season, was back to work on Thursday.
WR Justyn Ross
Ross continued to practice on Thursday after returning to the team last Wednesday.
#Chiefs confirmed the roster currently stands at the full 53; WR Justyn Ross back in the mix as WR Skyy Moore (knee) went to Injured Reserve— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) December 21, 2023
Now a member of the Chiefs’ 53-man roster, he is eligible to play against the Raiders on Monday.