NFL notebook: Chiefs’ Mahomes to practice as usual on sprained ankle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes walked through Arrowhead Stadium as if nothing was amiss Wednesday, his sprained right ankle hardly hampering the All-Pro quarterback as he began preparing for the AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mahomes went through a normal morning walkthrough and then headed out for an afternoon practice with the rest of the Chiefs, four days after a Jacksonville pass rusher landed on his ankle and forced him to hobble off the field in pain.

“AFC championship week,” Mahomes said with a smile. “I’m ready to go.”

Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Jaguars on Saturday. X-rays during the game came back negative, and Mahomes returned in the second half to lead the Chiefs to a spot in their fifth straight conference title game – and a Sunday night rematch with the Bengals, who beat them for a spot in last year’s Super Bowl.

Mahomes started getting treatment after the game, and an MRI on Sunday showed no structural damage.

“The last few days has been an all-day thing,” Mahomes said, “where you’re doing treatment and rehab and watching film. You’re trying to make sure you’re prepared for the Bengals, a great football team, mentally and physically.”

Mahomes jogged around without any apparent limp Wednesday in the brief portion of practice open to local reporters.

He said the injury is similar to one he played through early in the 2019 season, when Mahomes came back the following week to throw four touchdown passes in a win over the Raiders. The only difference is it’s the opposite ankle.

It’s also not as bad as a toe injury that Mahomes had earlier in his career.

“He had a couple injuries in college he fought through,” Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said. “In the NFL, with all the games you play, very rarely do you get to this point without having something. That’s just how it goes.”

Reid said he doesn’t anticipate holding Mahomes back in practice this week, although it’s possible that Chad Henne gets some additional reps in practice. The 37-year-old backup led the Chiefs on a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown drive against the Jaguars while Mahomes was getting checked out late in the first half.

“Most likely he won’t just do a little. I don’t think I’m going to have to go there with that,” Reid said of Mahomes. “I may have to pull him back a little bit. But knowing him, I think he’s going to try to do everything.”

Mahomes also expects to practice like normal, although he admitted the plan could change if there is any soreness after a workout. The Chiefs also practice Thursday and Friday, although the final one of the week is more like a walkthrough.

“We’ll see throughout the week,” Mahomes said. “I’ve done limited stuff in a small box of what I can do, but I’ll push today and the next day and the next day again, to not aggravate the injury but see what I can do.”

Asked what it meant to see his ailing leader take the field, Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster replied: “It pretty much showed how much heart he has for his team and how much love for everyone.”

“Even this past game when he was going through his whole process,” Smith-Schuster said, “we could see he was fighting.”

Mahomes is winless in three tries against Bengals counterpart Joe Burrow, though, which includes last year’s AFC title game, when the Chiefs’ quarterback played poorly down the stretch and they blew a 21-3 lead in a 27-24 overtime defeat.

“It’s about being a competitor. You want to be out there, especially in these games,” Mahomes said. “You get to gameday, you just have to focus on the game. That’s what I’ll try to do. Try to prepare my body the best I can.”

AWARDS: Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson and Patrick Mahomes are finalists for The Associated Press 2022 NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards.

The winners will be announced at NFL Honors on Feb. 9. A nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league completed voting before the start of the playoffs.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Bengals QB Joe Burrow are also finalists for MVP.

Hurts had 3,701 yards passing, 760 yards rushing and 35 touchdowns combined, leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 14-3 record in the regular season and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Eagles (15-3) are in the NFC championship game for the second time in six seasons.

Jefferson led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 yards receiving in his third season with the Minnesota Vikings. Jefferson was one of two unanimous choices for AP All-Pro along with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, helped Kansas City go 14-3 to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Chiefs (15-3) are in the AFC title game for the fifth straight season. They’ll host the Bengals. Mahomes led the NFL with 5,250 yards passing and 41 TDs. He received 49 of 50 votes for AP first-team All-Pro.

San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons are the finalists for AP Defensive Player of the Year.

Bosa led the NFL with 18 1/2 sacks, Jones had 15 1/2 and Parsons got 14 1/2.

Brian Daboll, Doug Pederson and Kyle Shanahan are the finalists for the AP Coach of the Year award. Daboll led the New York Giants to a 9-7-1 record in his first season as head coach. Pederson guided the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 9-8 record and an AFC South title in his first year with the team. Shanahan led the San Francisco 49ers to a 13-4 mark, including 5-0 down the stretch with third-string rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.

Purdy, Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III and New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson are the finalists for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Purdy, the last player selected in the draft, started the season as third-string QB and stepped in after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. He led San Francisco to a 5-0 record down the stretch, two playoff wins and an appearance in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

Walker led all rookies with 1,050 yards rushing and nine TDs. Wilson led all rookies with 83 catches and 1,103 yards receiving.

Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen are the finalists for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith are the finalists for AP Comeback Player of the Year.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen are the finalists for AP Assistant Coach of the Year.

This was the first year for the AP’s new voting system. Voters chose a top 5 for MVP and top 3 for all other awards. For MVP, first place was worth 10 points. Second through fifth-place votes were worth 5, 3, 2 and 1 points.

For all the other awards, first-place votes equaled 5 points, second were 3 and third were 1.

49ERS: Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu will be available to play in the NFC title game despite his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic violence allegation.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team will wait for the legal process to resolve after Omenihu was accused of pushing his girlfriend to the ground during an argument on Monday.

“If he’s healthy, he’ll play this week,” Shanahan said. “We’ve looked into it the last 48 hours, not necessarily myself but other people. We feel very good that the legal process will take care of itself. We don’t feel we should kick him off our team at this time.”

The NFL will review the matter under the league’s personal conduct policy, but Omenihu is available until that is completed.

San Jose police said they were called to Omenihu’s home on Monday afternoon to investigate a domestic violence incident.

According to the police report, a woman who said she was Omenihu’s girlfriend said he pushed her to the ground during an argument.

Officers did not observe any visible physical injuries, but the woman did complain of pain in her arm. She declined medical attention.

Omenihu was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for misdemeanor domestic violence. He was freed after posting bail. The case will be submitted to the district attorney for possible charges.


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