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Missing star players against the Lions, the Chiefs knew others had to step up

Patrick Mahomes favorite target (and the defensive line’s best player) weren’t available to play on Thursday.

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs’ star tight end Travis Kelce was held out of Thursday night's season opener against the Detroit Lions with a knee injury. While there had been some optimism that he would be able to play, head coach Andy Reid said that the tight end just hadn’t had enough time to heal properly.

“It just wasn’t feeling right,” Reid told reporters after the game. “I wasn’t going to put him out there with that. And he was honest with me.”

“Y’all know Trav,” noted quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “He is exactly like me. I want to play. I want to be out there with the guys. He works extremely hard to be out there — and [it’s] kind of a freak deal that he wasn’t able to make it.”

Mahomes acknowledged that while playing without his No. 1 receiver on Thursday wasn’t easy, he wasn’t prepared to let it be an excuse for the team’s 21-20 loss.

“Yeah, I mean, you’re losing one of the best — I think the best tight end of all time,” said Mahomes of Kelce. “But guys — other guys — have to step up.”

And according to Mahomes, that will still be true after Kelce returns to the lineup.

“I’m sure there will be other times when he gets doubled,” said the league MVP. “And so [we’re] just going to have to rely on these other guys that are young and talented to step up and make plays. And I believe that they will.”

After positive news about Kelce’s injury on Thursday, Mahomes doesn’t think he the tight end will be out a long time — and might even be back for Kansas City’s Week 2 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week from Sunday.

“I mean, I’m not going to put anything past Trav,” said Mahomes. “He was trying to play today and just literally couldn’t... but yeah, I mean, he’s going to try to do whatever he can to be out there — and hopefully, he can clear all those doctor’s tests and then get out there on the football field.”

Reid was pleased with the play of the defensive line — even though its best player watched Thursday’s game from an Arrowhead suite with his agents.

“I don’t want to take anything away from our [defensive] guys up front,” said Reid of Chris Jones’ continued absence. “They busted their tail tonight. It didn’t come up the way we wanted it to, but they did some good things there.”

And Reid couldn’t say when he thought Jones might be back with the team.

“You know,” said Reid, “that’s a whole separate deal that will get work itself out — whatever direction it goes.”

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