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Patrick Mahomes ‘ready to go’ for AFC Championship game despite high ankle sprain

Patrick Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Jaguars last Saturday, though X-rays during the game came back negative.Ed Zurga/Associated Press

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

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“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 seldom do you get to this point without having something. That’s just how it goes.”

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Mahomes played most of the divisional round game on a heavily taped right ankle.Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

Reid said he doesn’t anticipate holding Mahomes back in practice this week, though 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.”

Finalists named

Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson, and 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.

Quarterbacks Josh Allen of the Bills and Joe Burrow of the Bengals also are finalists for MVP.

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

Bosa led the NFL with 18½ sacks, Jones had 15½, and Parsons 14½.

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

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Purdy, Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker, and Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson are the finalists for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, and Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen are the finalists for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

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.

Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst, 49ers tight end George Kittle, and Commanders coach Ron Rivera are the finalists for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award for exceptional effort to honor and support members of the military community.

Omenihu available to play

49ers defensive lineman Charles Omenihu will be available to play in the NFC Championship game despite his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic violence allegation.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said that 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.”

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