Travis Kelce injury update: Latest news on Chiefs TE’s ‘uncertain’ status for Week 1

The Chiefs were already entering Week 1 with a cloud of uncertainty above as Chris Jones’ holdout threatens to linger into the season. Now, Patrick Mahomes and the offense have a problem of their own to worry about.

All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce’s status came into question on Tuesday after he went down with an injury in practice, one of Kansas City’s final workouts before Thursday’s season opener against the Lions.

Kelce, a future Hall of Famer, would be critical to any offense, but he’s especially critical for a Chiefs passing game that lacks a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. Kansas City has options at the receiver position, plus the benefit of being able to roll out a two-time MVP quarterback, but it would be difficult for a group of young pass-catchers to step in and replace Kelce’s impact if he were forced to miss any time.

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Here are the latest updates on Kelce’s injury and his status entering Week 1.

Travis Kelce injury update

Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters Tuesday that Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee and is “uncertain” for Thursday night’s game against the Lions.

“We’ll just see how he does going forward,” Reid said, leaving details vague.

Chiefs fans will be holding their breath after that announcement, as a hyperextension is typically a preliminary diagnosis before a player is evaluated. Reid said Kelce is still being evaluated, so another update is likely coming soon.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the injury isn’t expected to be a long-term issue. It is, however, enough to put Kelce’s status for Thursday “in doubt.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed Kelce isn’t looking at an ACL injury and later reported the tight end is dealing with a bone bruise. 

It isn’t clear whether Kelce’s injury was non-contact or not, but the uncertainty is something Kansas City didn’t need at this stage. With Chris Jones still away from the team, demanding a new contract, the Chiefs already appear to be facing a Week 1 game without the anchor of their defense.

The team’s final injury report of the week, issued Wednesday afternoon, officially listed Kelce as questionable for the opener. 

A Kelce absence would remove Mahomes’ go-to target and force younger Chiefs receivers to step up.

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Here’s a look at how the Chiefs’ tight end depth chart stacks up behind Kelce.

Chiefs TE depth chart

1. Travis Kelce

Kelce turns 34 in October, but it’s hard to call him anything but the best tight end in the NFL until he proves otherwise.

The four-time All-Pro has been extraordinarily durable in his career, missing very little time to injury, and he played all 17 games last season en route to 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Super Bowl champions. The Chiefs will need to do everything they can to make sure Kelce, entering his 11th season, stays on the field.

2. Noah Gray

Gray was a fifth-round pick out of Duke in 2021 and first got an opportunity to make an impact last season. He totaled 299 yards and a touchdown on 28 receptions, making one catch in each of the Chiefs’ three playoff games. 

If Kelce is forced to miss Week 1 or any more time, then Gray is first in line to take his place in the starting lineup.

3. Blake Bell

Bell was a college quarterback, but he’s primarily been a blocking tight end since entering the NFL in 2015. He missed most of 2022 with a hip injury but played 16 games for the Chiefs in 2021, hauling in nine receptions for 87 yards. 

Bell has two career touchdowns, including one in a Chiefs playoff win over the Texans on their way to a championship four seasons ago. This is Bell’s second stint in Kansas City. 

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