The Kansas City Chiefs returned to practice Wednesday at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex, just a stone's throw from the house that will be rocking, hopefully in record-setting fashion on Sunday, Arrowhead Stadium.
Preparing for legendary Raider Week is a Chiefs team that has embraced the 'back-to-work' mentality, all season long, evidenced by its 5-0 record.
Prior to Wednesday's practice, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid addressed the media, providing injury updates, before Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder shared the latest news regarding Chiefs TE Travis Kelce's knee injury.
"Travis had an ongoing knee problem, and it goes all the way back to training camp," Burkholder said. "When we first did an MRI there, he had a bone bruise in his knee. Every time we'd try to progress him through the rehab or get him back out on the field, he had a setback. We did a few more MRIs, and it just kept showing the bone bruise and every time he would feel pretty good, he'd have a setback. About two weeks ago, Dr. Cris Barnthouse had discussed with Travis that he may have something more going on in the joint, that didn't show up on the MRI. We did a little more course of treatment, held him out of the ballgames, tried to move him around in rehab and basically in rehab, he would do some of the rehab things and run and he was okay. Once he got down into his football stance, he struggled to come in and out of his stance. Yesterday, Dr. Barnthouse finally did an arthroscopic surgery on his knee and he did find that he did have a spot in his cartilage, in his articular cartilage, at the end of his femur bone. It didn't show up on the MRI, but when they went in with the scope, he can see it. That spot in his knee is in a non-weight bearing area and that's why he could run without pain, but he couldn't get in and out of his stance; that needed to have a micro-fracture procedure. So, right now, he just came back to us today to start the rehab. We'll let (Chiefs GM) John Dorsey and coach Reid decide what his future is with the team, in terms of this year and practices and games and we'll continue to rehab and try to get that knee quieted down."
Coach Reid was asked about Kelce's future and responded by saying, "(John) Dorsey and I will continue to meet with Rick and the doctors and we'll just see. I'm just glad that he's okay and that he's going to have a nice recovery and be able to play the game that he loves to play."
As for the Chiefs-Raiders matchup, coach Reid says his team embraces the rivalry and will be prepared for game day.
"We look forward to the challenge of playing the Oakland Raiders," coach Reid said. "Our football team understands the rivalry and the significance of that. It's also very important, with that said, to make sure that you take care of the fundamentals and learning the game plan. The guys are going to do that. They're going to focus in today and make sure that we get that part accomplished and then we'll play the game on Sunday. The guys have done a nice job with that, up to this point."
New to the team and the AFC West in 2013, Chiefs QB Alex Smith is still well aware of the 108-game rivalry between the Chiefs and Raiders.
"It's new territory for me," Smith said. "I'm not too unfamiliar. I grew up in San Diego, so I'm very familiar with the AFC West and a little bit about what it's about. I'm excited; rivalries in the game of football are what makes it special at every level. For us at the NFL level, it's these division games and they all kind of have their unique relationship, each one of the four teams. I'm excited for this and obviously, I was playing football in the Bay area, close to Oakland; I'm very familiar with them and I'm excited for it."
One of Smith's many targets in 2013 has been Chiefs TE Sean McGrath, who in his second season in the league, first with the Chiefs, spoke to the preparation and excitement for Sunday's home game.
"Yeah, the juices are flowing every week," McGrath said. "Every week that you get to play a game, it's a great one. We're going to go about preparing the same way we have every other week. It being a rivalry week, everything outside is blowing up. We just have to stay within ourselves and worry about what we have to do: respect the game, respect the opponent and go out there and execute the game plan."
On the defensive side of the ball, Chief LB Derrick Johnson has played in 15 games against the Raiders, totaling 102 tackles, one sack, one INT, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, seven passes defensed, as well as a tackle and an assist on special teams; DJ previewed this year's Raiders team.
"They are a very good team," DJ said. "They're very explosive; they have a lot of athletes on their team. (Raiders QB Terrelle) Pryor is the main one. He's the guy that makes it all run. You can do a lot on offense, through him. He's done a good job as a young quarterback that is up and coming."
To have success against Pryor and the Raiders offense, the Chiefs "D" needs to continue its opportunistic play, which Pro Bowl S Eric Berry says is always a priority.
"We practice it," Berry said. "That's a big emphasis throughout the week and has been an emphasis through OTA's and everything else. We're just going to keep building on that and working on that every day."
The work continues tomorrow, when the Chiefs return to the practice fields for a morning walkthrough, followed by an afternoon practice, approaching the AFC West showdown on Sunday.
For more on the record-setting attempt at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, click here.