Availability is the best ability. Bill Parcells’ quote is never truer than the Super Bowl’s winner take-all-stakes, which can often be decided by the healthier roster. If the Kansas City Chiefs hoist the Lombardi Trophy Sunday night, their training staff should garner MVP votes. In 2020, they limped into the Super Bowl as walking wounded when half their offensive line was on the IR and Mahomes was pounded into ground beef. Mahomes should be better protected behind their revamped offensive line, however, in this edition of the Super Bowl, the injuries are still heavily weighted on Kansas City’s side.
How will Patrick Mahomes’ ankle hold up?
Super Bowl Sunday will mark three weeks since Patrick Mahomes suffered a painful high ankle sprain in the first half of Kansas City’s Divisional Round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs have been mum on where his sprain lies on the spectrum between a Grade 1 to Grade 3 sprain. However, considering the nature of Grade 3 sprains and that Mahomes played in the AFC Championship two weeks earlier, it’s safe to assume that his sprain was either a Grade 1 or Grade 2. A Grade 2 sprain typically heals in approximately 4-6 weeks, while a Grade 1 sprain healing process takes half of that time.
Injuries to wide receivers
The larger concern lies with the availability of Mahomes’ slot receivers, Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman. Hardman re-injured his pelvis against the Cincinnati Bengals and has been placed on injured reserve. As an impending free agent, he’s been a letdown after failing to emerge as a reliable target in his third year. Four years after the speedster ran a 4.33 and was drafted in the second round out of UGA, his Chiefs career could end with a dud. His greatest contributions were in the imaginations of many who envisioned him as a successor to Hill.
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Toney is the Chiefs’ trendy new gadget receiver since they acquired him in a trade from the Giants before the trade deadline. Like Hardman, he’s a regular in the training room, although his readiness for the Super Bowl is a bit murkier. Toney left the AFC Title Game with an ankle injury, but unlike the hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for three weeks,
Injuries to the Chiefs defense
Starting cornerback LaJarius Sneed cleared the concussion protocol Monday afternoon and on Tuesday, Reid provided an update on Mahomes’ injury situation which amounted to a whole lot of nothing. The Chiefs are going well beyond your typical R.I.C.E. methods in Mahomes’ recuperation process, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be even more mobile than he was against the Bengals.
“I wouldn’t tell you he’s 100 percent,” Reid said of Mahomes. “The training staff works with him endlessly. I guess it’s a tribute to both of them. Pat (Mahomes) coming back for more and for those guys cranking on him. Julie (Frymyer) spent most of the time with him, rehabbing him. We’ve got all the latest and greatest stuff to use technology-wise. He’s used it all and he’s been able to make these jumps here where he can actually function and play in a game, which is pretty remarkable.”
The Eagles enter the Super Bowl healthy
Conversely, the Eagles are one of the healthiest teams we’ve ever seen entering the Super Bowl. All 22 of their Week 1 starters played in the Championship Game, an unbelievable rate considering the attrition that takes place over the course of a physical 20-week grind. Nickel corner Avonte Maddox has been playing through a toe injury since Philly’s Week 16 loss to Dallas and while he’s been using a walking boot, the expectation is that he’ll be fully available for the Super Bowl as well.
Jalen Hurts sprained his throwing shoulder at the tail end of the regular season, and continues to receive questions about the strength of his shoulder as his efficiency running and throwing has diminished since his return. As long as he wasn’t climbing any greased poles two Sundays ago, the Eagles should be confident in Hurts’ physical state.