KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes walked through Arrowhead Stadium like nothing happened Wednesday, his sprained right ankle hardly hindering the All-Pro quarterback as he began to prepare for the AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mahomes had a routine morning walk and then headed out for an afternoon workout with the rest of the Chiefs, four days after a Jacksonville pass rusher landed on his ankle and caused him to limp off the field in pain.
“AFC Championship Week,” Mahomes said with a smile. “I’m ready to go.”
Mahomes was injured late in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 27-20 win against the Jaguars on Saturday. X-rays during the game came back negative, and Mahomes came back in the second half to lead the Chiefs to a spot in their fifth straight conference title game — and a rematch Sunday night with the Bengals, who beat them for a spot in last year’s Super Cup.
Mahomes began seeking treatment after the game, and an MRI on Sunday showed no structural damage.
“The last few days have been an all-day thing,” Mahomes said, “where you’re doing treatment and rehab and watching movies. You’re trying to make sure you’re prepared for the Bengals, a big football team, mentally and physically.” .”
Mahomes jogged without any apparent limp Wednesday in the brief portion of the workout open to local reporters.
He said the injury is similar to one he played early in the 2019 season, when Mahomes returned the following week to throw four touchdown passes in a win over the Raiders. The only difference is that it’s the opposite ankle.
It’s also not as bad as a toe injury Mahomes had earlier in his career.
“He had a couple of injuries in college that he dealt with,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “In the NFL, with all the games you play, you very rarely get to this point without having something. That’s just the way it is.”
Reid said he doesn’t expect to hold Mahomes in practice this week, though it’s possible Chad Henne will get some additional reps in practice. The 37-year-old backup led the Chiefs in a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars as Mahomes was controlled late in the first half.
“He’s most likely not going to do just a little bit. I don’t think I’m going to have to go there with that,” Reid said of Mahomes. “I might have to pull it back a bit. But knowing him, I think he’ll try to do everything.”
Mahomes also expects to train normally, although he admitted the plan could change if there is pain after a workout. The Chiefs also practice Thursday and Friday, although the last one of the week is more like a walkthrough.
“We’ll see throughout the week,” Mahomes said. “I’ve done limited things in a small box of what I can do, but I’ll push today and the next day and the day after that, not to make the injury worse but to see what I can do.”
When asked what it was like to see his sick leader take the field, Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster replied, “He’s basically shown how much heart he has for his team and how much love for everyone.”
“Even in this past game, when he was going through the whole process,” Smith-Schuster said, “we could see he was fighting.”
On Wednesday, Mahomes was announced as one of the finalists for the Associated Press’ 2022 NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards. The 2018 MVP had perhaps the best season of his career, throwing for a career best 5,250 yards with a league-leading 41 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions.
Mahomes is winless in three tries against Bengals counterpart Joe Burrow, however, including last year’s AFC title game when the Chiefs quarterback played poorly down the stretch and blew a 21-3 lead in a loss for 27-24 in extra time.
“It’s about being a competitor. You want to be out there, especially in these games,” Mahomes said. “Come match day, you just have to focus on the match. That’s what I’m going to try to do. Try to prepare my body as best as possible.”
NOTES: WR Mecole Hardman (abdominal injury) practiced Wednesday after missing all of last week. He hasn’t played since Nov. 6, and a string of setbacks since he returned from injured reserve has kept him sidelined. … TE Jody Fortson (elbow) and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire also practiced. Both returned from IR last week but neither have been added to the active roster. “There’s a chance, either one,” Reid said of their potential to play on Sunday. “Maybe more Fortson than Clyde.”