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Chiefs’ Andy Reid: Kadarius Toney’s return is ‘day-by-day’

Following Saturday’s final preseason game, Kansas City’s head coach gave an update on the injured wide receiver.

NFL: MAY 24 Kansas City Chiefs OTA Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the Kansas City Chiefs finished their 2023 preseason 2-1 with a narrow 33-32 victory over the Cleveland Browns on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, head coach Andy Reid provided an injury update on nine players.

One of them was wide receiver Kadarius Toney, who still recovering from surgery for the partially-torn meniscus he suffered on the first day of training camp.

Reid told reporters that Toney could “possibly” return to practice this week — and the team is taking Toney’s status “day-by-day.” Reid did seem optimistic, however, saying that Toney is “doing great.”

This was the first bit of information that Reid has revealed about the oft-injured receiver in several weeks.

Reid’s use of the phrase “day-by-day” might be considered unfortunate. It is similar (perhaps too similar) to the “day-to-day” expression Reid repeatedly used to describe Eric Berry’s status as the star safety missed almost all of the 2018 season with a mysterious sore heel — a state of affairs that was made worse when Berry finally returned for Weeks 15 and 16 and performed at a level far below what fans had grown accustomed to expect.

Of course, these situations should not be compared directly; the circumstances surrounding the players (and their injuries) are vastly different. But just because of the history of its use, the phrase can still strike fear into the hearts of the team’s fans.

As I’ve maintained since Toney’s training camp injury, it will be very difficult for the wideout to return to the team by Week 1 of the regular season, when the Chiefs will host the Detroit Lions for “Thursday Night Football” on September 7.

While it is certainly possible that a player could recover from this injury on that timeline, Toney’s injury history — especially considering that he has not returned to practice in any capacity — suggests it may be in everyone’s best interest for him to have additional recovery time.

Even when these factors are removed from the equation, a six-week turnaround from this surgical procedure would be very fast.

The meniscus is knee cartilage that acts as the cushion between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). Given what we know about it, Toney’s surgery was almost certainly a debridement — a trimming of the torn meniscus — rather than a full repair. We know this because a full repair would mean months of recovery rather than weeks. For example, Miami Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey had a full repair of a torn meniscus during training camp. His reported timeline for a return to play is in December.

The Chiefs also have a luxury other teams are desperate to have: depth. During the presseason, the wide receiver corps has been one of the team’s strongest units. It has veteran leadership — along with exciting young playmakers who turned in excellent performances while trying to make the 53-man roster.

This positional depth could allow Kansas City to give Toney some extra time — possibly with a stint on injured reserve to begin the season. (To do this, though, Toney would have to be placed on IR after he makes the initial 53-man roster). It’s also possible that Toney will begin the season on a low “pitch count” — and will then be slowly worked into the offense.

One thing is certain: this week will tell us a lot about Toney’s availability for the opening of the season. He will need practice time to get re-acclimated with the offense — and to test his knee. If he does not practice this week in at least a limited capacity, it will be doubtful that he will be available when the Chiefs play the Lions.

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