The Kansas City Chiefs were back at practice on Wednesday with a matchup against the rival Oakland Raiders just a few days away.
Here’s a look at the first injury report of the week.
Prior to practice, Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance Rick Burkholder, Head Coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and linebacker Anthony Hitchens met with the media to discuss Sunday’s game.
Here are five things that stood out from their pressers.
1. Burkholder kicked things off by providing an update on wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who was injured in last Sunday’s victory over Jacksonville.
"The last time I met with you guys, I told you that we would give you an update on Tyreek Hill,” Burkholder said. “At that time, he was in the Baptist Medical Center [in Jacksonville] under Dr. [Brett] Frykberg's care. Before we left Jacksonville, he had the dislocated sternoclavicular joint reduced. He had that reduced without surgery and had it reduced under anesthesia. All went well there. There is no damage to any of his vital organs or his vessels. He spent the night in Jacksonville at the hospital. My assistant, David Glover, was with him. They flew back here Monday. He started the rehab process on Monday night and is going through that now. He'll be monitored throughout this period where he goes through the phases of rehab, like other injuries. We'll do some testing with him to make sure that joint stays in the proper anatomical position. I know there is speculation out there about how long, but he has a week-to-week injury. He will be listed as 'out' this week.”
2. Despite Hill being ruled out this weekend, Reid discussed his confidence in the Chiefs’ current depth at wide receiver.
"We get DAT [De'Anthony Thomas] off of suspension [this week]. We should be OK there. We had worked [Tremon] Smith in there during camp, so he can also do some things for us there,” Reid said. “I think we felt like we would be OK at that spot. However, we loved [Byron] Pringle. With that whole thing, it wasn't anything on his performance for that."
The Chiefs waived Pringle earlier this week in order to make room for Thomas on the active roster. In addition to Thomas and Smith - who isn’t technically listed at receiver but can play there if needed, as Reid indicated – Kansas City also features a trio of dynamic receivers in Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and rookie Mecole Hardman.
In fact, it was only a week ago that Watkins put together the best game of his career with nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns - leading the league in the latter two categories.
Reid talked about Watkins on Wednesday and explained how the veteran receiver seems more comfortable in the offense this season.
"Your second year, you're familiar with everything - from the practices and the installs to whatever amount of plays you’re putting in and actually knowing the play,” Reid said. “A lot of it comes off of knowing what the guy next to you is going to do - not just knowing your assignment, but knowing the guy next to you and what his assignment is so that you can play off of him. It takes a little bit of time to do that, but he’s a smart kid and he works extremely hard. We probably didn't cut him any breaks because we had him playing all three positions [last year]. That's another load on there. But he works extremely hard and he learned everything. You saw him improve as the season went on, too."
3. Mahomes, meanwhile, was asked about the status of his ankle after he tweaked it during Sunday’s victory.
“It’s feeling better every single day. The biggest thing was the first day after it was a little sore, but since then, the swelling has gone down and I’m able to move a little bit better,” Mahomes said. “I’m excited about getting on the practice field, going out there and still getting all the reps I would usually get.”
Mahomes put together a stellar performance on Sunday despite the injury, throwing for 378 yards and three touchdowns while posting the second-best passer rating (143.2) of his young career.
Watkins was responsible for more than half of Mahomes’ yards and all three scoring strikes entirely by himself in that game, and based on his comments in Wednesday’s presser, Mahomes is confident that Watkins can continue to dominate during – and beyond - Hill’s absence from the field.
“I think Sammy is going to do his job regardless of if Tyreek is there or not,” Mahomes said. “He’s going to go out there, play hard and execute whatever Coach Reid asks him to do. I think having Mecole, D-Rob [Demarcus Robinson] and these guys who have worked hard all training camp and are able to do stuff as well will help out the whole team. That’s how we’ve always been, when you get your opportunity, you go out there and make plays.”
4. Mahomes was later asked about the atmosphere he expects in Oakland on Sunday.
With the Raiders impending move to Las Vegas set to take place next year, this will mark the Chiefs’ final trip to Oakland.
“I mean, it’s going to be an awesome atmosphere, you know that, especially with the rivalry and the history that the Chiefs and Raiders have,” Mahomes said. “It’s going to be cool to go out and play on the exact field my dad played on at one point. It will be cool to have that experience and hopefully come out with a win.”
Mahomes’ father, who bears the same name, played 11 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1992-2003. The Raiders play in the lone multi-sport stadium still around in the NFL, and with the baseball season still in full swing, Mahomes will play on the same infield dirt that his dad played on years ago.
5. Finally, Hitchens explained how he thought the Chiefs’ defense communicated and lined up last Sunday in their first live action under new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“I want to say there were 58 [defensive] snaps, [and] we got everyone lined up on every one. There was one where they blew up the formation and went empty and we had a massive check and didn’t get to it, but other than that, everyone was on the same page for the most part for the whole game,” Hitchens said. “My coach didn’t come to me and say I closed a front wrong or anything like that. I think we’re all getting it and I’m sure every week we’re going to add more to our plate and it’s my job to get everybody lined up.”
And with Raider Week underway, Hitchens mentioned that Spagnuolo was showing the defense old film from the early days of the NFL for inspiration.
“It’s about being physical - the most physical team wins - and you can see guys talking smack on the field and off the field,” Hitchens said. “Just being ready, keep your head on and just play ball. It’s going to be a physical match – there are going to be some bumps and bruises. I’m looking forward to it.”