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Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes thinks he’s ready to play after toe surgery

Patrick Mahomes won’t play in his first 2021 regular-season game for more than three months, but the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said he’s ready for the game now.

“If there was a game [today], I’d be able to play in it, I think,” said Mahomes, who had surgery in February to repair turf toe.

“There’s still stuff I’m going to have to work through. I have to continue to rehab, continue to keep strengthening that stuff. But it’s good to be able to get out there earlier than the schedule had me and be able to get some work in.”

The Chiefs originally hoped Mahomes would be able to participate in offseason practice by the time the team’s mandatory minicamp arrived, which is in two weeks.

But Mahomes has been a full participant since the Chiefs started practice last week.

He took all of the usual starter’s snaps in practice Thursday and made some impressive throws, including a post pattern to Mecole Hardman.

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Mahomes also elaborated on his comments from last week saying he wanted the Chiefs, with the NFL’s expanded regular-season schedule, to be the first team ever to finish a season 20-0.

“I believe the question I was asked is, what record did I want to break?” Mahomes said.

“To me, records don’t mean anything if you’re not winning that last game at the end of the season. It’s about going in every single week with the mindset that we’re trying to win, we’re going to win. And at the end of the day whatever the record is, if it’s 20-0 or wherever it is, you win that last game of the season and you’re going to be happy with whatever happened earlier in the season.

“People get all hyped up about saying 20-0 because you have to take it one week at a time, but at the end of the day you want to continue to win every single week. I’m not going into the season hoping I lose any games.”

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Jarran Reed, Kansas City Chiefs agree to 1-year deal

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Sunday.

Reed can earn up to $7 million on the deal, sources said.

Reed joins a defensive tackle rotation that incorporates Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton. Jones has led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Nnadi plays mostly on running downs, while Wharton showed promise last season as an undrafted rookie.

But Reed, with his 19 sacks over the past three seasons, gives the Chiefs a strong interior pass rusher to combine with Jones. The Seattle Seahawks released Reed on Friday, a year after the team signed him to a two-year, $23 million extension.

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Reed, 28, has been a full-time starter since 2017, the year after Seattle picked him in the second round out of Alabama.

He was known primarily as a run-stuffer his first two seasons but then broke out for 10.5 sacks in 2018.

He started the 2019 season by serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy and finished the year with two sacks in 10 matches.

Reed, who reportedly wanted a long-term contract to stay in Seattle and couldn’t reach an agreement with the team, appeared in all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2020 and played on 74 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, per Football Reference. He had 6.5 sacks, 38 combined tackles and 14 quarterback hits, with one pass breakup and a forced fumble.

He was set to count nearly $14 million against the salary cap before he was released.

For his career, Reed has 22 sacks and 194 tackles in 72 regular-season games.

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Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes to have surgery to fix turf toe

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will reportedly undergo surgery on Wednesday fix a torn plantar plate in his toe — usually known as turf toe.

Mahomes injured his toe on Jan. 17, during the divisional playoff match between the Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. He was initially limping on that foot, but the severity of the injury was never really addressed. Mahomes left that game soon after that injury due to a concussion, and the toe issue became an afterthought.

The turf toe didn’t seem to affect him for the rest of the playoffs. Mahomes was constantly scrambling during the Chiefs’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV and he looked just fine. However, the injury was reportedly “significant,” according to Rapoport.

“Hobbled” is a strong term, so it’s pretty impressive that Mahomes was able to handle himself that well with such a significant injury.

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Mahomes will reportedly be having surgery just three days into the offseason.

Getting it out of the way early will mean that he’s got more time to recover.

Rapoport only stated that Mahomes’ rehab time will be “several months,” which leaves a major question which is if he will be ready for the 2021 season.

Mahomes will obviously be limited in what he can do during at least part of offseason due to his toe. While he may be ready for the beginning of the 2021 season, we don’t yet know what his timeline is and when he’ll be able to get back to his normal offseason training program.

It’s possible that he could be slightly behind when he gets for training camp. But that’s a problem for the August 2021 Chiefs. For now, Mahomes is getting a nagging injury repaired and that will only make him better next campaign.

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Bills advance to AFC championship with 17-3 win over Ravens

In what was supposed to be a showdown between Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Taron Johnson literally stole the show.

If not for the wall separating the field from the stands in the back of the east end zone, the Bills cornerback might still be running after returning an interception 101 yards for a touchdown that propelled Buffalo to its first AFC championship game appearance in 27 years.

Johnson’s pick-6 of Jackson’s pass with 41 seconds left in the third quarter helped secure a 17-3 triumph over the Ravens in a divisional-round playoff game Saturday night.

“We’re excited. It’s not done yet, we’re not done yet,” Johnson exclaimed. “It’s just a blessing. Our defense stepped up to the challenge.” Johnson’s return matched the longest in NFL history and punctuated a stellar defensive outing in which Buffalo (15-3) limited the NFL’s top running offense to 150 yards on 32 carries.

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Jackson, last season’s NFL MVP, was sacked three times and did not return after sustaining a concussion following the final play of the third quarter, and two plays after Johnson scored. He finished 14 of 24 for 162 yards passing, while being limited to 42 yards rushing on nine carries.

Allen, an MVP candidate this year, finished 23 of 37 for 206 yards and a touchdown.

In a season in which the Bills relied mostly on their dynamic Allen-led offense to outscore opponents, the third-year quarterback was gratified to see Buffalo’s defense make a difference in a game the pass-happy attack was kept mostly in check.

The Bills advanced to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1994 on their way to making — and losing — their four consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Buffalo also extended a season in which it has broken numerous droughts by claiming its first AFC East division title in 25 years and, with last week’s victory over Indianapolis, winning its first postseason match since the same year.

The Bills, have won eight consecutives to match their best streak since 1990 and will play the winner of the AFC’s other divisional playoff between Cleveland and Kansas City on Sunday.

The fifth-seeded Ravens (12-6) had their season come to an end after leading the NFL in yards rushing for a second consecutive year. Baltimore clinched its third playoff berth in three years by winning its final five regular-season games. The winning streak came after a 1-4 skid capped by a 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 in a game rearranged three times due to COVID-19 issues.

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Kansas City Chiefs clinch No. 1 seed in AFC as Travis Kelce sets records

Earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC hasn’t resulted in Super Bowl success for the Kansas City Chiefs in the past, but they hope it puts them on the path to a championship this time around.

The Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top seed Sunday by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 17-14 at Arrowhead Stadium. The 14-1 Chiefs, who have won 10 consecutive games, will receive the AFC’s only first-round playoff bye and will play their divisional-round game at Arrowhead.

“It’s one of your goals when you go into the season,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with 1:55 left to rally the Chiefs to a surprisingly difficult win over the 4-11 Falcons. “If you look at the history of that bye week, usually it’s a good thing for teams trying to make a championship run.”

In the victory, Travis Kelce became the first tight end to have two 100-catch seasons. Kelce caught seven passes, giving him 105. Kelce also set the single-season yardage record for a tight end. He had 98 yards, giving him 1,467. The San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle held the previous record with 1,377 yards, set in 2018.

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“To get a week of preparation, a week of really locking in and getting the body right that late in the season is so key, and it’s much needed if you want to make that playoff push,” Kelce said. “That’s what you work your tail off for all season. I’m just proud to be a part of this team and be able to do it again this year.”

The AFC’s No. 1 seed hasn’t represented the conference in the Super Bowl in either of the past two campaigns.

The Chiefs have been the AFC’s top playoff seed three times but failed to reach the Super Bowl in any of those seasons. In 1995 and 1997, they lost their divisional-round playoff game at home. In 2018, they lost the AFC Championship Game at home in overtime to the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs were the No. 2 seed last year on their way to a Super Bowl LIV championship. The Chiefs concluded the regular season next Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead. Since the game will be meaningless with regard to the standings and their playoff seed, they are likely to rest some of their top players, including Mahomes and Kelce.

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New Orleans Saints’ Tre’Quan Smith is latest wide receiver to land on injured reserve

The New Orleans Saints are even thinner at wide receiver after placing Tre’Quan Smith on injured reserve with an ankle injury he sustained in Sunday’s 32-29 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Smith, who is a standout blocker in addition to his pass-catching role, will have to miss at least three matches, including the Saints’ playoff opener.

Saints receivers Michael Thomas (ankle) and Deonte Harris (neck) are already on IR for the remainder of the regular season — though coach Sean Payton stated the goal is for Thomas to be as close to 100% as possible for the start of the playoffs.

“I just felt with Mike it was real clear,” Payton said. “Man, he was grinding and productive and catching eight balls, nine balls. But it wasn’t gonna get better until football stopped, just by the nature of the ankle sprain. And so look, if it was ‘win this one, you get in or not,’ then I think our approach would have been much different. But we’ve got a pretty good feel that he can be closer to his 100% — and I don’t know if it’s exactly his 100% — but closer to full speed. And that’s a tremendous asset for us. And in fairness to him right now, we’ve got a little bit of that luxury.”

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The Saints (10-4) have clinched a playoff spot.

And they can clinch their fourth straight NFC South title with one more win or a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) over the final two weeks. The Saints still have an outside shot at the NFC’s No. 1 seed, but they need help from other teams.

New Orleans has lost two consecutive games, and the lack of receiver depth was noticeable in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. Drew Brees started 0-for-6 passing for the first time in his career before he tried to rally the Saints back with three touchdown passes.

On a positive note, the Saints activated undrafted rookie receiver Marquez Callaway off the IR list in time for Friday’s game versus the Minnesota Vikings. Callaway caught eight passes for 75 yards in a game earlier this season when the Saints’ receiver position was similarly thinned out. New Orleans’ active receivers for Friday will be Emmanuel Sanders, Callaway, Austin Carr, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Juwan Johnson.

Smith, a third-round draft pick from Central Florida, set career highs in his third NFL season with 34 catches and 448 yards before sustaining the ankle injury Sunday. He had four touchdown catches — one shy of the five he had in each of his first two seasons.

The Saints also ruled out starting free safety Marcus Williams (ankle) and part-time starting guard Nick Easton (concussion). Guard Andrus Peat (ankle), defensive end Trey Hendrickson (neck) and defensive tackle Malcom Brown (calf) are questionable.

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Chiefs visit Saints for potential Super Bowl preview

Saints coach Sean Payton really considered drafting Patrick Mahomes in 2017.

But the Saints were slated to pick 11th overall and Kansas City traded up to snag Mahomes at pick No. 10.

Record-setting quarterback Drew Brees was 38 years old then, but had no intention of retiring. And as it turned out, the Saints wound up with one of the greatest drafts in franchise history that year anyway.

It started with the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who’ll get his first opportunity to see how he fares versus Mahomes and Co. on Sunday when the Saints (10-3) host the defending NFL champion Chiefs (12-1) in a potential Super Bowl preview.

“Everything worked out for the best,” Lattimore said. “He’s over there doing his thing. I’m over here doing my thing. So, everybody won.

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“And yeah, I’m excited to play him because he’s one of the great up-and-coming quarterbacks,” Lattimore continued. “So you know our game is going to be way up, and you know we’re going to be ready for him.”

With help from playmakers such as receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, Mahomes leads the NFL in yards passing with 4,208 and has his team in pole position to defend its Super Bowl title.

“To be that young and to be as talented as he is is rare,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Mahomes. “For him to have excelled the way he has is a real tribute to the kid and the genes that his parents gave him, too, is part of it — and how hard he works.”

The Chiefs have the best record in the AFC. But ensuring that it stays that way another week requires a victory versus a contending Saints squad looking to bounce back from a stunning loss in Philadelphia.

The Saints can win the NFC South for a fourth consecutive season with a victory (or a Tampa Bay loss). “It’s going to be a great battle,” Lattimore said. “I feel like we’re stacked, just like they’re stacked. So, we’re going to go out there and play and the best man wins.”

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Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey not expected to play Sunday

It appears the Carolina Panthers will again have to find a way to play without their best player.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey is not expected to play Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a right shoulder injury he suffered the previous Sunday.

According to Schefter, McCaffrey will now be considered “week to week.” McCaffrey will receive a second opinion on his shoulder injury, ESPN’s David Newton reports and CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones confirms.

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The former No. 8 overall pick made his return to the field last week versus the Kansas City Chiefs after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2 against the Buccaneers.

Overall it was a pretty impressive return, as McCaffrey rushed 18 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, and also caught 10 passes for 82 yards and another score. However, he did suffer the shoulder injury which puts his status in doubt moving forward. 

Despite being double-digit underdogs against Patrick Mahomes and Co., Carolina took Kansas City down to the wire. The Panthers lost 33-31, and the 31 points they registered ties for the highest point tally Carolina has recorded this campaign. 

The shoulder injury occurred with 1:10 remaining when safety Daniel Sorensen slammed the Pro Bowl back to the ground near the sideline after a 1-yard catch.

With McCaffrey out, again expect Mike Davis to take over as the dual-threat weapon in the backfield. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is coming off of an impressive performance against the Chiefs, as he completed 36 of 49 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 19 yards and another score.

He will also be expected to step up in McCaffrey’s absence.  McCaffrey didn’t miss a game during his first three NFL seasons, including last year, when he became the third player in league history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.

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Le’Veon Bell Signs Reported 1-Year Chiefs Contract

Running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday after being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, the team stated.

Kansas City did not release terms of the pact, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bell is expected to sign a one-year deal. 

Schefter noted Bell wants to win a Super Bowl and believes the reigning champs give him the best chance to do so.

The three-time Pro Bowler is in his seventh season in the league, and Kansas City marks his third team after his career started with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. After missing the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March 2019.

Bell’s 19 months with the Jets were rocky at best. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in May 2019 that head coach Adam Gase liked Bell on the field but “didn’t love the money.” 

Across 17 games with the Jets, Bell had 264 carries for 863 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught 69 passes for 500 yards and a touchdown. He got off to a slow start in 2020, as he missed three games with a hamstring injury and had only 74 yards on 19 carries in the two games he did play.

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When Bell returned in Week 5, he played only 67 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2019, he appeared for more than 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 11 games and over 90 percent five times.

In the days leading up to Bell’s Tuesday release, Gase was outspoken about the running back’s social media activity.

The Michigan State product liked multiple tweets about his lack of usage, and he had expressed his frustration throughout the campaign.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas wrote in a statement that the two sides explored the possibility of a trade, but they could not reach an agreement with another team before deciding to release him.

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick this year on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled for 138 rushing yards in his debut. However, he has yet to top 64 yards in each of his other four games, and Kansas City lacks much reliable depth behind him.

Expect Bell to immediately slide in as a complement to Edwards-Helaire, particularly as a pass-catching option on third downs.

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