Chiefs much healthier with return to practice of Edwards-Helaire, Hill, others
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire practiced Wednesday for the first time since getting hurt against New Orleans in Week 15, raising hopes the first-round pick can play in the divisional round of the playoffs against Cleveland on Sunday.
Edwards-Helaire had been out with a high ankle sprain, causing him to miss the Chiefs’ final two regular-season games. He also missed a game earlier in the season but still finished fourth among rookies with 1,100 yards from scrimmage.
“Normally, the trainers have a pretty good feel for what you can do and can’t do and you surprise yourself, but this kid went right at it. He was fearless with it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “And as I result, I would tell you he’s probably a little ahead, and we’re going to evaluate it. We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize him or his career.”
The only players to miss practice Wednesday were wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who missed the final game of the regular season with a calf injury; rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr., who has been dealing with an ankle injury; and cornerback Rashad Fenton, who hurt both of his ankles in the Chiefs’ meaningless Week 17 loss to the Chargers.
That means wide receiver Tyreek Hill and linebacker Ben Niemann were back from hamstring injuries that hobbled them late in the season, along with linebacker Anthony Hitchens (COVID-19) and offensive tackle Mike Remmers (back).
Hill first tweaked his hamstring against the Saints on Dec. 20, the same game in which Edwards-Helaire got hurt. But he was able to play the following week against Atlanta, when the Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top seed and lone first-round bye, before joining Patrick Mahomes and a handful of other starters in getting the regular-season finale off.
“Right now, I’m doing great,” said Hill, who got the go-ahead from Chiefs trainers to work out with his personal trainer, Luther Glover, at his facility in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa. “I feel like our medical team here does a tremendous job of allowing us to go work out with our off-field trainers, so I had a chance to work out with Luther, go to his other place and get some work outside the facility. So I’m feeling good. I’m ready.”
The absence of Hitchens and Niemann left the Chiefs with just two healthy linebackers late in the season, while the injury to Remmers forced them to use yet another mixed-up version of their preferred offensive line.
Now, they’re back along with Edwards-Helaire and fellow running back Le’Veon Bell, who was dealing with some nagging injuries of his own and suited up but did not play in the Chiefs’ regular-season finale against Los Angeles.
That means the Chiefs are the healthiest they’ve been in months as they begin their postseason push.