KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Travis Kelce hyperextended his knee during the Chiefs' final practice before their opener against Detroit, leaving the status of the All-Pro tight end in question when Kansas City faces the Lions on Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the injury occurred during their final full workout Tuesday but provided no other details. Players in the locker room said Kelce was hurt on a play in the red zone but was able to limp off the field on his own.
“We'll just see how he does going forward,” Reid said.
Tests taken after practice showed that there was no ligament damage, a person familiar with the results told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the injury.
The 33-year-old Kelce has not missed a game to injury since his rookie season in 2013, when a microfracture procedure to fix a cartilage problem in his knee ended it after one game. He has twice skipped meaningless games to end the regular season.
“I was in on that play (that Kelce was hurt),” Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore said Tuesday. "I was talking to somebody and he was limping, just walking off the field. It was a good sign to see him get up by himself and get off the field.”
One day earlier, Kelce proclaimed his body felt "as good as it’ll feel all year” heading into the new season.
“I’ve been very fortunate that we have the best training staff in the league, so getting in the training room, doing a lot of rehab, and just making sure the body is tuned up," Kelce said before Monday's practice. "There’s a lot that goes into it. You just have to be a professional, and you just have to be very fortunate.
“Actually,” he said, "there’s lot of fortune that goes into the game and staying healthy and being out there every week.”
Kelce is coming off perhaps the best season of his 10-year career, catching a career-high 110 passes for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was voted a first-team All-Pro for the fourth time and chosen to the Pro Bowl for an eighth consecutive season while helping Kansas City win the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in four years.
“It's tough and we love Kelce and we want him to be out there,” said Chiefs tight end Noah Gray, who would be in line to start if Kelce is unavailable. “He's been a great captain, a great leader for this team, a great mentor for me and the rest of the guys.
“He’s as tough as they get,” Gray added. “I hope he’s out there.”
The Chiefs also have Blake Bell on the 53-man roster with Matt Bushman and Gerrit Prince on the practice squad.
Most of the injuries Kelce has sustained in his career have been relatively minor. He has twice been in the concussion protocol but was able to return for the following game. He’s played through a rib injury and an ankle sprain, had offseason surgery on his shoulder and dealt with soreness in his knee during the 2020 playoffs.
“He's one of the toughest guys out there," Bushman said, “and he loves to play the game.”
The drop-off is steep from Kelce to the rest of the tight end group. He has 814 catches for 10,344 yards and 69 touchdowns over the course of his career; the backups combined have 95 catches for 976 yards and three touchdowns.
The Chiefs are at least healthy at wide receiver, which should take some of the pressure off the tight ends.
The big question mark was speedy Kadarius Toney, who had surgery for a torn meniscus early in training camp and missed all three preseason games. The dynamic-if-injury prone playmaker returned to practice last week and made it through the remainder of game week workouts without any problems.
If Kelce is unavailable, the Chiefs could have all seven of their wide receivers active on game day.
“We've got to make sure we have a plan on how to use them," Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said.
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