SEPTEMBER 6: While Kelce is dealing with significant swelling, Rapoport indicates he suffered a bone bruise. Considering the range of outcomes possible in the wake of this knee injury, the Chiefs appear to have dodged a bullet here.
SEPTEMBER 5, 3:48pm: Kelce remains uncertain to play in Week 1, per Rapoport and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, but this is not believed to be a serious knee injury. The Chiefs plan to wait for the swelling in the injured knee to subside before making a decision. Kelce’s ACL is intact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds. While it would not surprise to see the Chiefs exercise caution here given Kelce’s importance to the offense, it does not look like a long-term absence would be in the cards. Indeed, SI.com’s Albert Breer adds it is unlikely Kelce plays Thursday.
1:13pm: After missing nearly his entire rookie season due to a knee injury, Travis Kelce has become one of the NFL’s most durable players. But his status for Week 1 is suddenly in question.
Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee, per Andy Reid, and is not a lock to play in the Chiefs’ season opener. The injury occurred at practice Tuesday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The perennial All-Pro tight end has not missed a game due to injury since his 2013 rookie season.
On a better note for the defending Super Bowl champions, Kadarius Toney is practicing. Reid expects the injury-prone receiver to play against the Lions, ESPN’s Ed Werder tweets. Toney, who has battled a number of maladies since entering the league in 2021, missed several weeks after suffering a torn meniscus minutes into training camp. The Chiefs listed Toney and Kelce as limited practice participants.
Moving into Hall of Fame lock territory since pairing with Patrick Mahomes, Kelce did not truly begin his career until his age-25 season due to undergoing microfracture surgery during his rookie year. Unlike Jadeveon Clowney, who underwent the same procedure a year later, Kelce has not battled knee trouble in the seasons since. He has only missed three regular-season games — two due to Reid sitting starters in season finales, one due to COVID-19 — since returning in time for the 2014 opener.
Going into his age-34 season, Kelce has become one of the NFL’s all-time greats at tight end. He is riding a seven-year streak of 1,000-yard seasons; no other tight end has tallied more than four 1,000-yard years in total. The Chiefs relied on Kelce last season, trading Tyreek Hill and using a cast of lesser wide receivers, and got by in large part due to the receiving tight end’s consistency. Kelce set a new career high with 110 receptions, and his 1,338 yards approached his tight end-record 1,416 from 2020. It would obviously be quite the adjustment for the Chiefs to play without Kelce, considering their receiver makeup.
Toney represents a key part of that receiving group, but the Chiefs may look to limit the shifty wideout. Lower-body injuries have followed Toney from New York to Kansas City. Ankle, quad, oblique and knee trouble has plagued Toney, with an onslaught of hamstring issues – which at one point saw the talented youngster sidelined because of injuries to both legs – impeding his 2022 efforts. While Toney still recovered in time to make key contributions in Super Bowl LVII, his track record has reached the point he might not be able to handle a full receiver workload.
The Chiefs kept seven wide receivers on their active roster, adding to the uncertainty at the position following the free agency exits of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the only proven option left at receiver for the Chiefs, though GM Brett Veach said 2022 second-rounder Skyy Moore is set for an every-down role after showing improvement this offseason. Kansas City also rosters second-round rookie Rashee Rice, free agent slot pickup Richie James, veteran backup Justin Watson and second-year UDFA Justyn Ross.
Additionally, the daily Chris Jones update does not bring good news for the Chiefs. Still no progress in negotiations, per Reid. Both Kelce and Jones played all 20 Chiefs contests last season. While Jones has been trending toward missing this game for a bit now, the eighth-year defensive tackle is close to missing a $1.1MM game check.
Aaron Donald skipped Week 1 while holding out in 2017, but he was attached to a rookie contract and the Rams ended up waiving his fines and paying him for the game week missed. The current CBA prevents the Chiefs from waiving the fines Jones incurred for missing training camp; that number has surpassed $2MM. Jones continues to target a deal closer to Donald’s $31.7MM AAV than the D-tackle’s second salary tier. Rumblings about a $28MM-per-year middle ground have surfaced, but Jones remains unsigned.