The Kansas City Chiefs saw three different wide receivers exit the AFC Championship due to an injury, and the status of all three have yet to be updated for Super Bowl LVII.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman each sustained an injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship. Despite a depleted wide receiving corps, the Chiefs held off the Bengals in a 23-20 victory and advanced to the Super Bowl for the third time in the last four years.
Tight end Travis Kelce (back spasms) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes (high ankle sprain) were both dinged-up entering the AFC Championship, but both stars played the entire game. Kelce led the Chiefs with seven receptions, and added 78 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Bengals.
Oddsmakers opened Super Bowl LVII as a pick’em, but early money backed the Philadelphia Eagles. The point spread hovered between -2 and -2.5 on Monday at various sportsbooks in Las Vegas, offshore, and on online apps.
On Tuesday morning, the Eagles were still the favorite, but oddsmakers across the board adjusted the point spread to -1.5
Super Bowl LVII is scheduled for Feb. 12. The current injuries on the Chiefs have not been a major factor in line movement. All three wide receivers have nearly two weeks to recuperate. The injuries could become a factor later next week if any of them, particularly Smith-Schuster, are still not practicing with the Chiefs.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Knee)
Smith-Schuster signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs in the offseason after they traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins.
In his first season with the Chiefs, Smith-Schuster emerged as the top wide receiver of the roster. He led all wideouts with 78 receptions and 933 yards. He also added three touchdowns.
In the AFC Championship, Smith-Schuster caught only one pass for seven yards before he left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury.
During a press conference on Monday, head coach Andy Reid did not elaborate on the status of Smith-Schuster, or the severity of his knee injury. However, the NFL Network reported that he struggled to walk up the stairs to enter the Chiefs locker room.
Kadarius Toney (Ankle)
The Chiefs acquired Toney in a mid-season trade with the New York Giants. In seven regular games with the Chiefs this season, Toney emerged as a deep-threat weapon. He caught 14 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
In his first postseason game with the Chiefs against the Jaguars, he contributed five catches for 36 yards and zero touchdowns. He also added 14 rushing yards.
In the AFC Championship against the Bengals, Toney caught one pass for nine yards before he exited the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. He nearly caught a sensational touchdown pass from Mahomes, but the ball hit the ground in the end zone and officials ruled it an incompletion.
KC challenges the call of incompletion by Kadarius Toney#Bengals 0 #Chiefs 0 1sᴛ pic.twitter.com/0F34d7dSR3
— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) January 29, 2023
Mecole Hardman (Pelvis)
The Chiefs selected Hardman with a second-round pick out of Georgia, where he was a kick return specialist. Scouts loved his speed, and he made a splash during his rookie season with a career-high six touchdowns on only 26 receptions.
Hardman appeared in eight games during the regular season before an abdomen and pelvis injury sidelined him in the second half of the season. The AFC Championship was his only action in the postseason.
Hardman went down in the third quarter against the Bengals after he aggravated his pelvis injury on a reception. Before he exited the game, Hardman caught two passes for 10 yards, and rushed twice for seven yards.
Next Man Up: MVS, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore
In his first season with the Chiefs, Marquez Valdes-Scantling contributed 42 receptions, 687 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.
When Smith-Schuster went down in the AFC Championship, Valdes-Scantling stepped up and finished the game as the team’s most productive wide reciever. He caught six passes against the Bengals, and led the Chiefs with 116 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Justin Watson missed the AFC Championship with a non-COVID illness. Watson, an Ivy Leaguer who played his college ball at Penn, caught 15 passes during the regular season for 315 yards and two touchdowns in limited action. In the AFC Divisional Round, Watson caught one pass for 12 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rookie Skyy Moore was a second-round pick out of Western Michigan. The speedy Moore struggled with fumbles as the team’s kick returner earlier in the season.
During 16 games in the regular season, Moore tallied 22 receptions on 33 targets for 250 yards. He has yet to score a touchdown for the Chiefs. In two postseason games, Moore caught four passes for 13 yards and no touchdowns.
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