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Chiefs’ Tershawn Wharton ready to stop being ‘a cheerleader’

After missing Kansas City’s Super Bowl run with an injury, the defensive tackle is happy to rejoin his teammates.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, there was a big surprise from the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

Defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton — who tore his ACL during Week 5 last season — returned to practice. Wharton had been placed on the Active/PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list at the start of camp.

After his return, fellow defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi said that “everyone on the defense was happy to see him back” — which led to a welcome unlike any Wharton had ever experienced.

“I think it took a moment to just take it all in,” the fourth-year player recalled after practice on Thursday, “because I’ve been watching for so long. I’ve never had a serious injury. Just seeing those guys and their reaction to it shows that it is a family here — and that I’ve got love on the team, you know.”

Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Though happy to be back with his peers, Wharton knows returning to the field after a major injury is a long process — and fans should not expect to see him on the field for the Chiefs’ first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints on August 13.

“Right now, we are just getting well for me coming back off of injury,” he noted. “I’m just preparing to get back fully healthy and continue to take my strides so I can play.”

Still, if it was up to him, Wharton would be a full-go.

“I think I’m ready,” he declared. “I’ve been watching. When I get out there, I’m just ready. For now, I’m taking it with stride [like] they’re telling me to do. But I’m ready.”

One of those people telling him what to do is assistant athletic trainer Julie Frymyer, who is likely to be immortalized as one of the greatest non-players in team history after working with quarterback Patrick Mahomes to keep him on the field after the league’s biggest star suffered a high ankle sprain early in the 2022 playoffs.

Wharton can attest to Frymyer’s magic.

“I had Julie, and she’s great,” he agreed. “Her job — she emphasizes it well, and she got me right. I think all the things you hear about Julie, I’ll just say [they’re] true.”

The Missouri S&T product also credited his teammates for giving him encouragement when they saw him on the training tables.

“As the months [went] along,” he recalled, “and being able to do things that I wasn’t able to do, that always made me continue to keep my head up and smile through the process.”

Wharton also watched his teammates win a Super Bowl — a feat to which they came agonizingly close to accomplishing during his rookie season. For Wharton, that provides extra motivation.

Kansas City Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

“Seeing them win, [I was] happy for them,” he remembered. “I know the training camp they went through [and] the season’s up and downs. They worked for it. But [after] watching it? I want to go get one.”

Getting cleared from his knee surgery was just the first step in helping the Chiefs get back to the Super Bowl. But Wharton knows it won’t be long until the next one.

“I’m ready to go,” he reiterated. “I’m tired of watching. I kind of feel like a cheerleader right now. But it’s coming.”

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