KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs could set a franchise record Sunday in Houston with their 19th consecutive game of at least 300 yards of offense, and in the past eight of them, Patrick Mahomes and Co. have topped the 400-yard mark.
All without two of their top wide receivers.
That could change soon: The Chiefs hope Kadarius Toney, who practiced last week after a hamstring injury but was unavailable against the Broncos, will get back on the field for the first time in nearly a month. And they could have fellow wide receiver Mecole Hardman back in short order after an abdominal injury landed him on injured reserve.
“Getting Mecole and KT back will just add another dimension. They can do jet sweeps and stuff like that, but adding their speed, teams have to honor that,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “If you add speed to any offense that those two guys have, it really opens up everybody else, because you have to account for those two guys on every play.”
Toney, who is most likely to play against the Texans, only appeared in two games after his trade from the Giants to Kansas City when he got hurt against the Chargers. But signs were pointing to the 2021 first-round pick being an impact player, especially after hauling in four catches for 57 yards and a score the prior week against the Jaguars.
His ability to run jet sweeps, which Tyreek Hill ran so successfully for years, added another element to the offense.
“He had a little bit of a ramp-up last week, which was good,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Came out of that feeling pretty good. We’ll see how he does this week and make a decision down the road here. Take it day by day, see how he does.”
It’s unclear how soon Hardman will be able to help what is already the league’s second-highest scoring offense.
He was likewise in the midst of a productive stretch, scoring touchdowns in three straight games and five overall, when an abdominal injury landed the speedster on injured reserve.
That put Hardman out four weeks, and the Chiefs now have a 21-day window in which they must active him or put him on IR for the remainder of the season.
Hardman has been posting to social media about his readiness to return, though Reid said it wasn’t necessarily the injury or shaking off any lingering rust that could be the biggest hurdle to getting back on the field.
“He lost a bunch of weight,” Reid said. “It was a matter of getting that back, but not with cheeseburgers — get back some good, hardy weight and strength, so he’s been working on that. He’s been working like crazy. And he’s going to continue to do that here — do that this week. He’s out at practice and that will add to it.”
The Chiefs are 10-3 and tied with the Bills for the AFC’s best record, though Buffalo holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, and that means each of the remaining four games are crucial. And the Chiefs would struggle to find a better get-right opponent for the two wide receivers than the one-win Texans, whose pass defense is middle of the road.
To say the Chiefs have gotten by without Toney or Hardman is an understatement.
Mahomes has thrown for at least 300 yards in seven of his past eight games, and tight end Travis Kelce has once again eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving this season — and 10,000 for his career — while wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has not only returned from his concussion but also has become an impact player.
Smith-Schuster had nine catches for 74 yards and what proved to be the decisive TD in last week’s 34-28 win in Denver.
NOTES: Reid and Mahomes both have connections to Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, who died this week at the age of 61. Reid had him speak to his teams in Philadelphia on a couple of occasions while Mahomes played at Texas Tech under then-coach Kliff Kingsbury, one of Leach’s quarterbacks there.
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