Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and outside linebacker Tamba Hali did not participate in practice on Friday and were ruled out for Sunday’s regular-season finale at San Diego.
Bowe was diagnosed with a concussion on Thursday after reporting symptoms while taking part in the start of practice. Hali is dealing with a swollen knee that flared up during last Sunday’s 23-7 loss to Indianapolis.
Bowe was shaken up during the fourth quarter after making a catch last week when he was hit in the head/neck area by Colts safety LaRon Landry, who was given a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless player. However, he was not on the injury report on Tuesday and was a full participant in practice.
Bowe left the game for a few plays before returning and was targeted for an incomplete pass.
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“You remember the hit … he felt OK,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “He got hit in the back of the neck. He didn’t really get hit (in the head). He got his neck bent forward … so I’m glad we were on top of it. I don’t care about anything else other than getting him right and make sure he’s OK.”
It often takes more than a week for players to clear the NFL protocol for concussions, putting Bowe’s status for the Jan. 4-5 wild-card playoff game in question.
Offensive tackle Eric Fisher missed just one week after suffering a concussion on Sept. 29 against the Giants. However, tight end Anthony Fasano missed two games after suffering a concussion on Dec. 1 against Denver.
“I’m hoping he’s right,” Reid said, “but let’s make sure he’s right.”
Second-year receiver Junior Hemingway likely will start in Bowe’s place.
Hali suffered a knee injury in the Indianapolis game and has not practiced all week.
Because the Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the upcoming NFL playoffs, Reid intends to rest several of his starters, so Hali, who battled an ankle injury earlier in the season, likely was not going to play much anyway against the Chargers.
“Tamba has a swollen knee,” Reid said. “He is making progress, which is a good thing.”
Hali and Bowe were the only players who did not participate fully in practice on Friday.
The Chargers listed wide receiver Eddie Royal (toe) as questionable and all other players as probable.
Starters will play
Because Sunday’s game has no bearing on the Chiefs’ playoff seeding, Reid likely will pull some of his key players from the game. But he said his starters will open the game as usual.
“I’m going to play ‘em,” said Reid. “We’re going to play. That’s what we’re going to do. Everybody got themselves ready to work. If I’m going to change … we’ll make that decision when we get there. But right now everybody has practiced and is ready to play.”
Reid faced this situation four times in Philadelphia — in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2010 — and each time he either limited his starters to a handful of snaps or sat them altogether. The Eagles won their first playoff game in three of those seasons.
Houston ready for takeoff
Outside linebacker Justin Houston was a full-time participant in practice all week for the first time since he suffered a dislocated elbow against San Diego on Nov. 24.
After missing four games, Houston is eager to get some playing time on Sunday as a tune-up for the playoffs.
“I do want to play … I haven’t touched the field in a while,” said Houston.
“It’s the coach’s decision if I’m playing or not,” said Houston, whose 11 sacks share the team lead with Hali. “If he lets me play, I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity. I feel feel 100 percent and can take every snap.”
Reid said Houston doesn’t necessarily need to play on Sunday in order to be ready for the playoffs.
“If he had a game or didn’t have a game, I think he’ll be OK,” Reid said.
Chargers in limbo
While the Chiefs are assured of their spot in the playoffs, the Chargers could clinch a wild-card spot with a win, or they could be eliminated before kickoff if either Miami or Baltimore win their games.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy won’t blame his players if they scoreboard watch during pregame preparations.
“All I know is that our players are going to prepare just like they did last week to win the game,” said McCoy, whose team has won three straight. “And there are TVs around, I’m not going to lie. There are TVs around in the locker room. I don’t worry about that. We have enough leaders in here. We understand what’s at stake, regardless of what happens in the games before us, we’re going to win.”
San Diego’s players realize the difference between finishing 9-7 or 8-8 will be important going into the offseason.
“We’ve just got to keep our focus on winning our ninth game,” said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. “If we get an opportunity to win a 10th one, then we’ll be there. If not, we’ll have finished with four in a row and finish 4-2 in the division, and I think that’s our biggest focus.
“We will know what has happened, but we can’t worry about that. We’ve got to play the game. We’ve got to play the game to win the game. We’ve been in three games in the last three years, week 17, that were the last game and we knew we were eliminated. I thought the way we played and the effort we had and we found a way to win all three of those says a lot about the character of your team.
“That will be the same mindset should that be the case this Sunday. So our No. 1 focus is on beating the Chiefs … that’s what we need to get done.”