There is reportedly some thought within the Kansas City Chiefs organization that superstar tight end Travis Kelce could return from a knee injury for the team’s Week 2 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
During an appearance Saturday on SportsCenter, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler said the Chiefs are “optimistic” and “pretty hopeful” Kelce can be back in action next week.
Kelce missed Thursday’s season-opening 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions after suffering a hyperextended knee in practice two days earlier.
A Chiefs source told Fowler, “I have a hard time believing he’s going to miss two games,” but Fowler noted that Kelce is dealing with a bone bruise and some swelling, and added that his range of motion “was a bit of an issue” when he was testing the injury during pregame warm-ups Thursday.
The Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes badly missed Kelce on Thursday night, as no Chiefs pass-catcher had more than four receptions or 48 receiving yards.
Noah Gray was Kelce’s primary replacement and finished with three receptions for 31 yards, while the other tight end Blake Bell had two grabs for 12 yards and a touchdown.
While neither of them played poorly, they lacked the type of explosiveness that Kelce typically brings to the table, and they didn’t necessarily strike fear into the Detroit defense.
It was known entering the 2023 season that the Chiefs had no clear No. 1 option among their receivers, so the expectation was that Kelce would essentially serve as the top receiver and everyone else would fall in line.
The Kansas City offense looked relatively ordinary without Kelce, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a ho-hum game by his standards, completing 21 of his 39 passing attempts for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Kansas City was also without All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones on Thursday, as he is in the midst of a contract dispute, and the Chiefs can ill afford to be without both him and Kelce moving forward.
The Chiefs figure to have a tough test on their hands next weekend either way when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road on Sept. 17.
Jacksonville is a team on the rise, as it won the AFC South last season, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to take another leap forward in 2023.
KC will likely be favored if Kelce is back in the fold, but if he isn’t, the normally electric Chiefs offense could have trouble keeping up with a Jaguars offense comprised of Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram.
This content was originally published here.