When the Kansas City Chiefs attempt to stave off the surging Cleveland Browns in the AFC Divisional Round, they’ll have to do so without running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in tow. The talented running back missed the final two weeks of the regular season with an ankle injury, but there was hope he’d be healthy enough to return this week — particularly with the Chiefs having landed a bye in the wild-card round. That doesn’t appear to be the case, however, with Edwards-Helaire reportedly having been ruled out versus the Browns, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The rookie first-round pick was initially listed as questionable on the final injury report (Friday), but he didn’t participate in practice the two days preceding that prognosis. Barring a dramatic turn of events as the day goes on and potentially in pre-game warmups — assuming he’s allowed to participate in those — count Edwards-Helaire out for this one.
That will again put the onus on All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell to carry the load behind reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, along with Darwin Thompson and Darrell Williams. Bell is no stranger to being RB1, but he’s not demonstrated the explosiveness in Kansas City that once led to him being one of the most feared backs in the NFL. The three combined for just four touchdowns this season and, for perspective, that number is one fewer than Edwards-Helaire had.
The good news for the Chiefs is Mahomes still leads one of the most lethal passing attacks in the league, and one that’s impossible to slow down once it begins firing on all cylinders. But without Edwards-Helaire, the ability to balance it all out might be compromised, forcing head coach Andy Reid to either adjust or ask Bell to once again become what he once was, assuming he can.