Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs were without their No. 1 offensive weapon as they kicked off the 2023 regular season against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night — a 21-20 loss. Star tight end Travis Kelce did not play as he recovers from a knee injury suffered earlier in the week.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Kelce hyperextended his knee in practice, but NFL Media reported that the tight end is dealing with a bone bruise — which is not expected to hold him out long term. Kelce tested out his knee Thursday morning, but had no power and struggled in a pool, according to NBC’s Melissa Stark. He is currently wearing a compression sleeve on that knee.
However, the team is reportedly optimistic Kelce can play in Week 2 when the team heads to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. The Chiefs initially listed Kelce as questionable for Week 1 after he did not practice Wednesday. He’ll have 10 days to prepare for the Chiefs’ next game.
Kelce being ruled out left this Chiefs wide receiving corps to carry the load in his absence. In the first half of the opener, it was rookie wideout Rashee Rice and fellow tight end Blake Bell that were able to catch passes from Mahomes, who spread the ball around to multiple pass catchers.
Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL, and is coming off of a campaign in which he caught a career-high 110 passes for 1,338 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns while the Chiefs returned to their place atop the NFL world with a Super Bowl LVII victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. In that matchup, Kelce became the first tight end in NFL history to lead the Super Bowl victor in receiving yards twice, recording six receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown.
Kelce hasn’t missed a game due to injury since his rookie season in 2013, where he played just one professional snap before a knee injury forced him to miss the remainder of the year. The 33-year-old has led Kansas City in receiving in three out of the last four seasons.
Kelce can become the seventh player in NFL history to record eight straight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards this year, but will have to accomplish this feat in 16 games instead of 17.