The Chiefs will be shorthanded at wideout when they take the field Sunday night in Los Angeles. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been ruled out for Week 11, per a team announcement.
Smith-Schuster suffered a concussion last week, and has been unable to clear the league’s protocol in time to suit up against the Chargers. This will mark the first missed contest of the season for the 25-year-old, putting his successful debut season in Kanas City on hold.
Long connected to the Chiefs, Smith-Schuster made the move from Pittsburgh to Kansas City this offseason. He inked a modest one-year, $3.76MM deal in March, but it has worked out very well to date. The former second-rounder has 615 yards on the year, which leads all wideouts on the team and ranks second only to tight end Travis Kelce. He has averaged 13.4 yards per catch – the second-highest figure of his career and a marked improvement over his past two seasons with the Steelers – while scoring a pair of touchdowns.
The news is especially troublesome for the Chiefs since Mecole Hardman was placed on IR yesterday due to an abdominal injury. Kansas City leads the league with an average of 326 passing yards per game, but they will now turn to speedsters Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney as their focal points on the perimeter. The latter, a recent trade acquisition from the Giants, scored his first career touchdown last week in just his second contest as a Chief.
Like Hardman, Smith-Schuster’s absence also comes with free agency looming this spring. The latter should miss less time given the nature of their respective injuries, but the team’s primetime game against the Chargers could now be more complicated from an offensive standpoint. That, in turn, will add further intrigue to what will already be a key game affecting the top of the AFC West.