During the preseason, Kansas City Chiefs running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams suffered injuries that held them out of game action. With the team's 2021 season-opener against the Cleveland Browns on the horizon, they're both making progress on the return front.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid addressed the media on Monday and gave a brief update on the status of his top two running backs. Edwards-Helaire has been dealing with a sprained ankle, while Williams is working his way back from a concussion. Both players were forced out of the Chiefs' Aug. 20 contest versus the Arizona Cardinals. According to Reid, the expectation is that they will be good to go for this Sunday's game.
"Yeah, they practiced this week and did a nice job with it," Reid said. "It looked like they're moving around pretty good. I think we'll be okay there."
This is positive news for the Chiefs, as losing anyone due to injury so early in the season would be a major blow. The tough schedule doesn't lighten up much after the Browns game, either: Reid's squad then travels to Baltimore to square off with the Ravens. The absence of Edwards-Helaire would have been felt for sure, and Williams is a valuable contributor on short-yardage and third-down situations.
Ankle sprains are nothing new to Edwards-Helaire, who missed time at the end of last season with a high-ankle ailment. Those are more serious than traditional sprains, which is what he suffered this time around. The 2020 first-round draft pick never quite burst onto the scene as many expected, compiling 803 rushing yards, 297 receiving yards and just five total touchdowns in the regular season.
There were also many instances last year in which Edwards-Helaire was taken off the field in favor of Williams for two-minute drills and other sensitive in-game scenarios. The latter rushed 39 times for 169 yards and a touchdown, as well as adding 18 receptions for 116 yards. It remains to be seen what the split of snaps will be this year, as free agent acquisition Jerick McKinnon performed well in the preseason and finds himself squarely in the running back mix as well.
Regardless of how much the duo of Edwards-Helaire and Williams plays on Sunday, it's a great sign for the Chiefs that they're progressing and are on track to be active on game day. Ankle injuries and concussions are tricky to come back from, and both players are important to the success of the offense. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes could benefit from an improved running game this year, and having his two best ones back in the fold is a definite plus.