The Detroit Lions may avoid seeing two of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ top players when the teams meet in Thursday night’s NFL season opener.
Defensive end Chris Jones was already in doubt as he sits out with an unresolved contract situation, and now the Chiefs could also be without tight end Travis Kelce after an injury during practice on September 5.
As NFL.com’s Kevin Patra noted, Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee in practice. While Kelce appears to have avoided a long-term injury, his status for Thursday’s game is now in question.
Travis Kelce’s Status to be Determined in Coming Days
NFL Network insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that Kelce’s status for Week 1 would be clearer once the swelling in his knee had decreased. Patra noted that any kind of extended absence could be “massive,” as Kelce racked up 110 receptions for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
“The Chiefs entered the offseason with questions once again at receiver, with young players like Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore expected to take on bigger roles,” Patra wrote. “The safety net to all the WR discussion was the assumption that Kelce would continue to be [Patrick] Mahomes’ security blanket and big-play target.”
#Chiefs star TE Travis Kelce’s status is in doubt for Thursday night’s opener vs. the #Lions because of his knee injury, but sources tell me and @TomPelissero it’s not believed to be a long-term injury. They’ll wait for swelling to go down and go from there. pic.twitter.com/pzuOYz2wt2
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 5, 2023
The Lions made moves to upgrade their secondary in the offseason, adding a number of new players including former Philadelphia Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. As Zach Moran of USA Today’s Lions Wire noted, Gardner-Johnson could change the complexion of Detroit’s defense this year.
“Gardner-Johnson plays with such veracity and intensity on the field that it is very hard to miss him,” Moran wrote. ‘If he is not the one making a play, he will sure be trying to get inside the opponent’s heads to a point they fear coming anywhere near him because of the hammer he might bring. It was evident during the first joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he made a couple of big blows that some of the Jaguars didn’t take so kindly, but he isn’t worried about other people’s feelings.”
It could be a major boost for the Lions if they are able to avoid facing Kelce, though his status would likely not be determined until closer to the game.
Lions Not Worried About Chiefs’ Absence
Lions head coach Dan Campbell already spoke out about the potential absence of Jones, who remained away from the team as he pressed for a new contract. Campbell said in a September 1 appearance on 97.1 The Ticket that the team is preparing for the Super Bowl champions the same with or without Jones.
“I’m not monitoring it,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t matter. He’s either there or he’s not. And if he is, he plays 15 plays, they’re all on third down and we’ll be ready. Otherwise, he’s not there and we just keep going. That’s out of our control.”
Campbell added that the Lions still have a strong defense whether Jones is on the field or not.
“They’ve got plenty of ammo over there defensively,” Campbell said. “I know what kind of player he is when he’s in there, but he’s the last thing I’m worried about right now. Until he’s in the building, it’s not a concern.”
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