Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be available to play in the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs said Monday that Edwards-Helaire was activated from injured reserve. The team created a spot on the active roster by placing wide receiver Mecole Hardman on injured reserve. Hardman re-injured his pelvis in the second half of the AFC Championship Game victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Edwards-Helaire, a 2020 first-round pick, hasn’t played since sustaining a sprained ankle in the Chiefs’ Nov. 20 win over the Chargers. Prior to his injury, the third-year rusher had been passed by rookie Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon on the depth chart. Edwards-Helaire had 19 carries for 92 yards in a Week 4 win over the Buccaneers and hasn’t scored more than nine carries in a game since. He has 71 carries for 302 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 17 catches for 151 yards.
Edwards-Helaire’s ankle injury came as McKinnon became a bigger part of the Chiefs’ passing game. McKinnon has been the team’s leading passer and third back and has played five games with five or more catches since the start of November. McKinnon also had at least one TD catch in six straight regular season games while Edwards-Helaire was sidelined.
If Edwards-Helaire plays in the Super Bowl, that likely means Ronald Jones will be inactive for the Super Bowl. Jones had been a healthy scratch for much of the season until Edwards-Helaire’s ankle injury. Jones’ 18 regular-season and playoff runs came while Edwards-Helaire was on the injured list.
Since Edwards-Helaire was a 2020 first-round pick, the Chiefs will have to make a decision about picking his fifth-year option this spring. Given Pacheco’s emergence after being selected in the seventh round of the 2022 draft and Edwards-Helaire’s dwindling production over his three seasons, it seems unlikely the Chiefs will commit to Edwards. -Helaire for the 2024 season before the 2023 season.
Hardman is back for the AFC title game
The AFC title game was Hardman’s first game since he bent awkwardly while tackled against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 6. He had two catches for 10 yards and two carries for seven yards until he aggravated that pelvis injury against the Bengals.
Hardman’s injury against Cincinnati came as the Chiefs were hit with a series of receiver injuries in that game. JuJu Smith-Schuster injured his knee and Kadarius Toney injured his ankle in this game. All three receivers did not return to action after their injuries, and the Chiefs played much of the second half with just three healthy wide receivers. Smith-Schuster and Toney could be available to play against the Eagles.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid hadn’t been optimistic about Hardman’s chances of making the Super Bowl before he was injured. Hardman was a playoff weapon throughout his four-year Kansas City career and had 22 catches for 226 yards and 11 carries for 110 yards in 10 playoff games.
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