Championship teams are only as good as their depth allows. Luckily for the Kansas City Chiefs, they have more than enough talent to weather most storms that come their way.
In the final stages of a 16-game NFL regular season, no one is 100% healthy. While many players will attempt to play through minor nicks and bruises, the proverbial injury bug is bound to strike at some point. The Chiefs experienced this harsh reality on Sunday when rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered injuries to his hip and ankle.
Per ESPN's Adam Schefter (later confirmed by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport), Edwards-Helaire is believed to have both a strained hip and a high ankle sprain. The Chiefs' 2020 first-round pick is still in the evaluation stage, per head coach Andy Reid on Monday.
It would be safe to expect Edwards-Helaire to miss at least the team's next two games to close out the regular season, but his status for the playoffs is up in the air. In a "next man up" league, someone will have to fill that void in Kansas City's offense.
Enter Le'Veon Bell.
The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro signed with the Chiefs in October after being cut by the New York Jets. Initially, the move was met with mixed reviews but at its core, it was a depth signing with the potential to yield a solid reward.
With Edwards-Helaire temporarily on the shelf due to injury, Bell has the chance to make a huge statement and make the organization very happy with its investment.
In eight games with the Chiefs this season, Bell has collected 75 carries for 298 yards — four yards per attempt — and a pair of touchdowns. He's also registered 12 receptions for 90 yards.
Bell's role expanded in Sunday's 32-29 win over the New Orleans Saints, seeing him carry the ball a season-high 15 times for a touchdown, as well as catch one pass on his only target. His style is undoubtedly different than that of Edwards-Helaire, but he should be able to remain effective in the Chiefs' offense.
In addition to being famous for his patient running style, Bell is a plus performer in pass protection and is a versatile weapon as a receiver. What he lacks in elite short-area burst or downfield speed, he makes up for in grit, contact-balance and agility. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes knows just how valuable Bell is, as well as how good he can be moving forward.
"He has been a great addition," Mahomes said of Bell after the Sunday's game. "You have seen him in spurts. Big plays happen when he is in the football game. We are hoping Clyde [Edwards-Helaire] gets back quickly. We have good guys in that running back room that will step up and embrace that role."
For the rest of the this season, the stars of the show will be familiar faces. Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce will carry the bulk of the load on offense. With that said, there will be times when running the ball makes sense. It's not a popular opinion, but it's a part of football nevertheless.
Despite the many cases against running back value relative to salary and production, having a player as versatile and proven as Bell — at such a cheap price point — is great. Although no one foresaw injuries to Edwards-Helaire taking place, the Chiefs knew having someone like Bell behind him would pay off in one way or another. Over the next few weeks, Kansas City might just get saved by the Bell, Le'Veon Bell.