Chiefs' Travis Kelce, a game-time decision, reportedly pleading to play vs. Lions despite knee injury

The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs could be without one of their most important players when they kick off the 2023 regular season against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. Star tight end Travis Kelce injured his knee in practice on Tuesday, and is officially listed as questionable to suit up this evening. According to ESPN, Kelce is pleading with head coach Andy Reid and trainer Rick Burkholder to play in the season opener. 

Following Tuesday’s practice, Reid told reporters that Kelce hyperextended his knee, but reports have since come out saying that Kelce is dealing with a bone bruise. He did not practice Wednesday.

Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt said Thursday morning that Kelce will be a “game-time decision.” He hopes Kelce will be able to go.

“He’s somebody who loves to compete, so I wouldn’t bet against him being on the field tonight,” Hunt said on “Good Morning Football.”

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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. If he were to miss opening night, it would be quite the opportunity for this unproven wide receiving corps.

Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Rashee Rice, Richie James, Justyn Ross and Justin Watson are all fighting for touches in this offense, and without Patrick Mahomes’ solidified No. 1 pass catcher, it should be wide open. Additionally, Noah Gray and Blake Bell are listed as Kelce’s backups at tight end. Gray caught 28 passes for 299 yards and one touchdown last year, while Bell played in just three total games.

“I was in on that play, so I was running a route,” Moore said when asked about Kelce’s knee injury after practice Thursday, via The Athletic. “I was talking to somebody and he was limping, just walking off the field. It was a good sign to see him get up by himself and get off the field.”  

Kelce leads all tight ends in receiving yards per game since 2019 (79.8). He can become the seventh player in NFL history to record eight straight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards this year, but Week 1 may be in doubt.

It didn’t take long for Vegas to respond to the news, as the line has dropped 1.5 points to Chiefs -5, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

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