KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Travis Kelce has been in the spotlight the past few weeks thanks largely to his new relationship with Taylor Swift.
He’ll be in the spotlight this coming week because of his ankle.
The All-Pro tight end hurt it during the first half of the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Kelce managed to return in the second half and had a couple of big catches down the stretch in the 27-20 victory, but the Chiefs now have a short week to get him healthy before they face the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
“When you have any type of injury you have to go through and say, ‘OK, this is what we think is going to happen based off of Travis,’ or whoever the player is,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said Monday.
“We listen to where we think things are, we have to put together what we think is going to happen and then have that contingency plan.”
The Chiefs (4-1) should have an idea of what that looks like.
Kelce had not missed a game to injury since his rookie season before the opener against Detroit, when a hyperextended knee sustained a couple of days earlier kept him out.
The Chiefs’ offense wasn’t the same, either, with Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the crew struggling much of the way in a 21-20 loss — their only one this season.
If Kelce is limited at all, Noah Gray and Blake Bell would get additional time at tight end. But the Chiefs also would look to their young wide receivers, including Rashee Rice, who started to shine during the win over the Vikings.
The Chiefs did practice today but Kelce was listed as Did Not Practice in their injury report estimation.
“We have guys that where it might have been a three-tight end set, we throw a receiver in there and stuff like that. We have guys that are able to learn that, know the offense,” Mahomes said.
“So we prepare for that stuff. You can’t always prepare for everything, but we try to prepare for if someone goes down or if something happens how we can still run our plays.”
Kelce has proven to be one of the most durable players in the league, though, and that he was able to return in the second half gives Kansas City hope that he will be on the field again Thursday night.
“He finds a new way to surprise me every week,” wide receiver Justin Watson said.
“That looked like a gnarly injury, and I was surprised he even made it off the sideline. Then for him to come back and have the second half he did, that guy is tough as nails. I love playing with Trav. He fired us all back up coming in here.”
The defensive backfield has largely shut down some of the best wide receivers in the game in recent weeks, and everybody has been in on the success. Trent McDuffie had three passes defended, and the defensive backs had seven in all, in the win over Minnesota.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Special teams are becoming problematic for Kansas City. They gave up a fake punt in the opener against the Lions, then had another pulled against them by the Vikings, even though special teams coach Dave Toub knew it was coming.
“Sooner or later we have to start stopping these things,” Toub said Monday, “or we’re going to keep getting them.”
L’Jarius Sneed is entering the last year of his rookie contract, and whether Kansas City signs him to an extension or he hits free agency and finds a home elsewhere, the cornerback will be making a whole lot more money next season.
Sneed helped keep Vikings star Justin Jefferson — who later left with a hamstring injury — in check in his latest superlative performance.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is carrying a salary cap hit of $11 million this season. The other seven wide receivers combined have a cap hit of $7.279 million.
So Valdes-Scantling having one catch for 12 yards against Minnesota, failing to catch more than two in any game and having seven catches total for 116 yards this season has become a big problem.
The Chiefs largely came out of the Minnesota game healthy. Running back Isiah Pacheco banged up his ribs on the final series of the game, and linebacker Drue Tranquill hurt his knee but managed to finish it out.
4 — Chris Jones has played four games after missing the opener because of a holdout, and the All-Pro defensive tackle has at least one sack in each of them. That ties Hall of Fame pass rusher Derrick Thomas (1996) for the longest streak to start a season in Chiefs history.
The Chiefs play the Broncos on Thursday night. Denver lost to the New York Jets on Sunday.