The Kansas City Chiefs returned to practice on Tuesday as they prepare to face the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. There are several items to monitor heading into the game, which we will round up here.
Injuries we’re monitoring
The Chiefs came out of the Week 18 game with three injuries — left tackle Wanya Morris suffered a concussion, wide receiver Justyn Ross strained his hamstring and cornerback Jaylen Watson hurt his calf. While Watson was at practice on Tuesday, Morris and Ross were not.
Morris will have to complete the stages of the concussion protocol to be eligible to play. Considering he started Weeks 14 to 17 at left tackle as Donovan Smith nursed a neck injury, it was positive for the Chiefs to get Smith back at practice on Tuesday. While Tuesday is a step in the right direction, the day to watch for Smith will be Wednesday.
LT Donovan Smith (No. 79) is back to work Tuesday, but the key here will be his availability on Wednesday. Smith practiced the first day last week before not working again. He hasn’t played since Week 13 due to a neck injury.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) January 9, 2024
LT Wanya Morris is in the concussion protocol. pic.twitter.com/p7aB4soKyk
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hip/ankle) was at practice but looked to be going through a limited session during the portion of practice available for media viewing. Head coach Andy Reid has noted his injuries continue to bother him, but he feels a little better this week.
Safety Bryan Cook (ankle) and running back Jerick McKinnon (groin) remain on injured reserve. Reid did not express optimism when asked about a potential postseason return for Cook, and McKinnon was spotted at the facility using crutches.
All other players with potential injury concerns — running back Isiah Pacheco, wide receiver Rashee Rice, linebacker Nick Bolton, cornerback Trent McDuffie and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed — were working on Tuesday.
Wide receiver Mecole Hardman’s role is something to watch
Our lead film analyst, Ron Kopp, has outlined the positive signs from Hardman’s Week 18 game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Hardman showed some juice on Sunday, and Kansas City could choose to feature him in some capacity in the playoffs on Saturday.
“It was good to see him kind of get back in the swing of things and have a few consistent snaps in there,” said Reid. “We’ll work him in for sure, but that didn’t hurt him at all.”
The head coach wanted to get him involved after he spent time on injured reserve due to a thumb injury. Hardman actually played 100% of the snaps, which was by design.
“I felt [he could benefit,t], and I thought he felt that way,” added Reid of Hardman. “He wanted to be in there. We had a rotation set, but he wanted to keep going and have some back-to-back-to-back plays there that he could get into a swing, into a rhythm with.”