Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was cleared Friday from the league’s concussion protocol after his third consecutive day of practice and will be under center when Kansas City plays the Buffalo Bills in the AFC championship game.
Mahomes was hurt in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ divisional-round win over Cleveland. He returned to take the majority of snaps in a light workout Wednesday, then did the same during the longest practice of the week Thursday, before team doctors and an independent neurologist gave him the green light following Friday’s workout.
“The week has been a bunch of testing, a bunch of different things, to make sure I’m good to go and there’s no lingering effects and things like that,” Mahomes said. “Everything has been good. I went through everything; three or four different doctors have said everything is looking good.”
The reigning Super Bowl MVP was hurt when he was tackled around the head by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson while running a quarterback option. It never appeared that Mahomes hit his head on the turf — and if he did, it was not the kind of impact that usually leads to a concussion — raising the possibility that he had actually compressed a nerve.
Either way, Mahomes immediately showed the symptoms of a concussion. He remained on the turf for a couple of minutes, then nearly collapsed when he got to his feet. He was still wobbly as trainers helped him to the sideline and into the blue injury tent, though he looked more steady when he ran into the locker room a few minutes later.
The Chiefs wasted little time ruling Mahomes out, though. Chad Henne wound up finishing off the 22-17 victory.
Mahomes was second in the NFL with 4,740 yards passing this season, despite skipping the regular-season finale with the Chiefs already assured of the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. The long layoff between Week 16 and last Sunday wasn’t a problem, either, as Mahomes threw for 255 yards with TDs running and passing before he was hurt.
The Chiefs also said running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (high-ankle sprain) also practice for the third straight day and appears likely to play for the first time since Week 15.
The Bills, meanwhile, are uncertain if wide receiver Gabriel Davis will be available. Davis and defensive tackle Vernon Butler were listed as questionable after returning to practice on a limited basis.
Davis sat out two midweek practices due to an ankle injury. He finished third on the team with 599 yards receiving and second with seven touchdowns receiving in his rookie season. In two playoff victories, Davis had four receptions for 85 yards.
Brown out Sunday for Bucs
Tom Brady won’t have Antonio Brown to throw to during Sunday’s NFC Championship game at Green Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Friday that the receiver, who had been day-to-day with a knee injury, will not play against the Packers. Brown was hurt during last week’s divisional playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints. No serious damage was found on a Monday MRI, but Brown hadn’t practiced all week.
“To put him on the plane and fly up there and have [the knee] swell more just doesn’t make any sense. He wasn’t as close as we had hoped, so we’ll get him ready for the next one,” Arians said. “Antonio will be missed, but we’ve got capable people stepping in.”
Brown joined the Buccaneers for the final eight games of the regular season, all four of his touchdown catches coming in the final three weeks. Eleven catches in the regular-season finale against Atlanta gave him 45 for the year for 483 yards; he added three more in Tampa’s two playoff victories, including another touchdown against Washington.
Brady targeted Brown just six times in the last two weeks, tied with fellow former Patriot Rob Gronkowski for fifth-most on the Buccaneers behind wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, tight end Cameron Brate, and running back Leonard Fournette.
“It obviously sucks for Antonio,” Brady said Friday. “We all wish he could be out there with us, and other guys are going to have to step up and do the job. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys that haven’t been out there as much when [Brown’s] been in there.”
The Bucs bolstered their defense, though, activating nose tackle Vita Vea from the reserve/injured list. The third-year pro, one of the top run-stoppers in the NFL, has been sidelined since early October with a broken ankle. He resumed practicing with the team this week and will be available this weekend against the Green Bay Packers.
King to become first Black female coach
The Washington Football Team is poised to make Jennifer King the NFL’s first Black woman to be named a full-time assistant coach. A contract has not yet been signed, but the deal is expected to be completed in the coming days, according to two people familiar with the situation.
King joined Washington’s staff in February as a full-time intern, becoming the first woman in franchise history to be hired in any capacity as a coach. She worked primarily with the running backs and earned the praise of coach Ron Rivera and running backs coach Randy Jordan.
“First of all, she knows the game,” Jordan said in December. “It’s really helped me in terms of seeing the game in a different view. … When we first started, I leaned on her a lot in terms of the terminology and the different things. Then, the way she’s worked with the guys; she’s just Coach King to us. Her input throughout the game, there are things I may not see, and she’ll point it out to me. … Her input is very, very important not only to me, but to the entire staff. She’s been doing a heck of a job.”
King, a former college basketball coach, spent the previous two summers as a part-time intern on Rivera’s staff in Carolina, working with the receivers and running backs. She is one of four full-time female coaches in the league, along with Tampa Bay Bucs defensive line coach Lori Locus and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar; and Cleveland Browns chief of staff Callie Brownson.
Katie Sowers, one of the league’s first full-time female coaches and its first openly gay coach, is reportedly not returning to the San Francisco 49ers as an offensive assistant in 2021.
Washington adds Mayhew, Hurney to front office
Ron Rivera bulked up his front office Friday, hiring Martin Mayhew to be Washington’s general manager and Marty Hurney to serve as executive vice president of football and player personnel. The moves give Rivera two seasoned NFL executives to work with going into his second season coaching and running football operations. Mayhew joins Washington after four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Before that, he spent a year with the New York Giants and was GM of the Detroit Lions for seven-plus seasons. He and Hurney will report directly to Rivera as part of the organization’s coach-centric front-office structure under owner Dan Snyder. Hurney was widely reported to be the pick as GM this week before Mayhew became the choice … Longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown and former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell had interviews Friday with the Houston Texans for the franchise’s vacant head-coaching job, the NFL Network reported. McCown, 41, was signed by the Texans off the Eagles’ practice squad in November. Houston is exploring the idea of McCown as head coach, but would surround him with at least one former head coach on the staff, the reported said. Caldwell, 66, last coached in 2019 as the Dolphins’ assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach … Vance McDonald could sense last spring the end of his NFL career was in the offing. The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end’s urge to branch out beyond the football field — one that bubbled for years — came to a head during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It just came down to feeling that call to just step away from football,” McDonald said. And so he did, retiring on Friday after eight seasons to focus on both his charity foundation and the work that lays ahead on the western Pennsylvania farm he plans to turn into a retreat for Christian leaders. McDonald spent the first four years of his career in San Francisco before arriving in Pittsburgh on the eve of the 2017 season. He finishes his career with 181 receptions for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns … It won’t quite be the usual full house, but 22,000 seats, or roughly 30% of capacity, will be filled at the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, the NFL said. About 7,500 of those seats will be occupied by health care workers who are being given free tickets by the league. Those attendees will all have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, the league said, and most will come from the Tampa area, though the league will also allot tickets to workers from other NFL cities. The league said that it would sell 14,500 tickets to the game, set for Feb. 7, with the buyers selected by lottery, as in normal years, with ticket allocations for every NFL team … Tony Jones, a former NFL offensive lineman who won two Super Bowls with the Broncos, has died at the age of 54. The Broncos confirmed the news Friday night. Jones spent his first eight seasons with Cleveland and the Ravens before moving to Denver for his final four seasons. With Jones as their starting right tackle, the 1997 Broncos won the franchise’s first title. The following season, Jones and the Broncos repeated as champions. A Pro Bowler during the 1998 season after moving to left tackle, Jones remained in the starting lineup during his final two seasons.