It appears the Chiefs caught a break on the injury front.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said tight end Travis Kelce, who left practice early on Monday because of a lower leg injury and did not practice Tuesday, only has a slightly sprained ankle.
“It looked like he got his foot caught in the grass and tweaked his ankle a little bit,” Reid said Tuesday. “I think he’s lucky the grass gave way a little bit, actually.”
Reid also said Kelce’s injury was not a high ankle sprain, which is more serious, and added that he could likely play this week if the Chiefs had a regular-season game.
Instead, they end the preseason Thursday at St. Louis, and Reid said the Chiefs’ No. 2 units would likely start against the Rams. It will give coaches a final opportunity to evaluate backups for potential practice squad candidates before teams have to reduce their rosters from 75 to 53 men before 3 p.m. Saturday.
The tight end position, in particular, will be one to watch against the Rams, even with Kelce out. Second-year pro Demetrius Harris, rookie James O’Shaughnessy and fifth-year veterans Ryan Taylor and Richard Gordon all earned some work at tight end in Kelce’s place on Tuesday, as the four are battling for two backup spots behind Kelce.
“Number 1, you look for talent and consistency,” Reid said of the backup tight end battle. “I think we’ve got good talent there. I’ll be curious to see how they handle an extended playing time here.”
Harris, who recently returned from a foot injury and staph infection, is the most intriguing candidate among that group. Reid said there’s a good chance he will play in Thursday’s game, though it’s unclear how much.
“I kind of want to go back and see how he feels after today,” Reid said. “If he does, it won’t be a ton.”
The four bring different strengths to the table. O’Shaughnessy and Taylor have shown flashes as receivers, while Gordon has a reputation as a blocker. But Reid is looking for backups who can do both.
“Yeah, (you need a) combo,” Reid said. “It’s hard to just have a blocker, it’s hard to just have a receiver. You’ve got to be able to do both in this thing.”
That’s where Harris, who caught three passes for 20 yards as the Chiefs’ No. 3 tight end last year, might fit into the mix. Harris, a former basketball player at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, spent 2013 on the Chiefs’ practice squad before appearing in eight games in 2014.
He got hurt during pregame warmups against Buffalo and was lost for the season.
“I really think he was coming on before he got hurt in Buffalo,” Reid said. “He’s a good combo guy. He became a good line-of-scrimmage blocker, and he’s a good receiver, big target. Nice combination.”
Quarterback Chase Daniel said was impressed by how Harris has looked in practice this week.
“He looked really good. It’s good to have another weapon out there,” Daniel said. “He’s a big target, especially in the red zone.
“It honestly looks like he hasn’t lost a step. He’s actually in pretty good shape right now.”
Daniel was happy to have Harris back out on the field after everything he has been through.
“He was sort of my guy the past two years on scout team and in preseason,” Daniel said. “I know he worked his butt off to get back on the field. And it showed.”