Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes will return from his knee injury Sunday, when the Chiefs visit the Tennessee Titans, coach Andy Reid announced Friday after the team’s final practice of the week.
“I knew I had a chance (to play this week) once I talked to the doctors, and they said that as long as I was functioning well and moving well, I could play this week,” Mahomes said. “I haven’t had any pain or setbacks.”
Mahomes missed the Chiefs’ past two games after dislocating his kneecap Oct. 17 during the first half in Denver. As he lay on the grass that night, unable to straighten his leg, he acknowledged he feared he had suffered a serious injury. But a doctor was able to pop the kneecap back into place immediately, starting a string of positive events that further burnished Mahomes’ legend with each passing day.
The X-rays taken inside the stadium showed no significant damage, and Mahomes has responded well to rehab exercises under the watchful eye of team trainers. The Chiefs had targeted Sunday’s game against the Titans as a potential return, and they subsequently increased the mobility requirements in his throwing drills throughout the past week.
Mahomes will wear a knee brace while playing in Tennessee but said he doesn’t expect to be limited in any capacity. He implied that the brace could also be temporary, a device he said would help his own mental reassurance.
“We put me on the run, and I threw it across my body and did all the stuff that I’ve grown to do as I’ve been in the NFL and my whole career,” Mahomes said. “I didn’t have any pain. I was still able to do it. I was still able to throw across my body. I wanted to make sure I was able to do that before I got back on that field.”
Those who have suffered kneecap dislocations have an increased risk of sustaining the same injury in the future if they opt to skip surgery, multiple doctors told The Star last month. Aside from their own doctors and trainers, the Chiefs sought medical opinions from outside specialists before launching Mahomes’ rehab program.
Asked about his understanding of the risk, Mahomes said, “It’s something that hopefully was kind of a fluke thing. I’ll always be a tad bit higher than the regular person (for chance of re-injury), but whenever you’re on the football field, there’s always a chance of injury. So as long as I’m functioning (and) moving around the right way, then I think I can go out there and play.”
The rehab placed some of the burden on Mahomes, his work accelerating the timeline. According to doctors who spoke to The Star, much of that labor would have centered around limiting swelling and strengthening the neighboring muscles, most particularly the inside part of the quadriceps. Reid lauded Mahomes’ commitment to the rehab.
Mahomes’ quick return highlights his significant about-face from the moment the injury occurred.
After a quarterback sneak in Denver, Mahomes lay on the ground on top of offensive lineman Austin Reiter. After seeing his kneecap out of place, teammates Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson ripped off their helmets and slammed them to the ground. Tight end Travis Kelce said, “It didn’t look like a knee.”
Yet just 24 days later, Mahomes is in line to start a football game.
Chiefs doctor Paul Schroeppel reduced the injury within a handful of seconds that night in Denver. After waving off the cart that had arrived to ferry him off the field and gingerly taking some steps, Mahomes said, “I realized I didn’t have much pain at all.”
And after going through X-rays in the locker room, Mahomes assumed he could return to the game.
“I was trying to go back out there, and they finally told me to take my shoulder pads off,” he said.
Backup quarterback Matt Moore finished the victory instead. Moved into the starting role over the last two weeks, Moore was 1-1. He guided the Chiefs to last weekend’s final-second win against the Minnesota Vikings. The Chiefs lost to Green Bay in the initial game Mahomes missed.
• In other injury news Friday, it was announced that Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor (ankle) and tackle Eric Fisher (sports hernia) will not play Sunday. Frank Clark (neck), Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), and Kendall Fuller (thumb) are listed as questionable.