Travis Kelce’s injury could force Chiefs to adjust

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Tight end Travis Kelce
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Tight end Travis Kelce /

Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce is still in the concussion protocol. If he is not able to play on Sunday, how will the offense fare?

Before Travis Kelce went down with a concussion this past weekend, he was having a lights out performance. In just one half of football, he had 8 catches for 98 yards. If he would have played the whole game, it would have been his third game of the season with 100 plus yards.

Kelce has been a huge part of the success of this offense in the first five weeks. It’s no secret that he is quarterback Alex Smith’s favorite and the Chiefs’ most reliable target on the field. His presence alone forces defenses to many times bracket him and focus their game plan upon him.

It’s safe to say that having him on the field is a real game changer and opens up the rest of the offense. As one of the best tight ends in the league, if not best since New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski can’t seem to stay on the field, he is a big threat to any defense.

We’ve seen defenses try and take him out of the game like in New England during Week 1 and in Los Angeles in Week 2, which meant that the rest of the offense has an easier time finding holes for other weapons like wide receiver Tyreek Hill and rookie running back Kareem Hunt. Yet even with Kelce being taken out of those games and losing a half of football against the Texans last week, he is still ranked 12th in the NFL in receiving yards.

The problem is that we don’t know for sure if he will be able to play on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers come to Arrowhead. The offense could be without one of their biggest weapons as they look to get some revenge against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. How will the Kansas City Chiefs offense look without their All-Pro tight end?

Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis

The two tight ends that back up Kelce on the depth chart are Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis. Both of these guys came in for the Chiefs against the Texans after Kelce went down and both had some good plays. Will they be able to fill that role of Kelce is he can’t play this week?

The problem with that thought is that both of these tight ends have had a history of dropped balls. While we thought that Harris had looked to get rid of that in his great preseason performances, we saw him drop two against the Washington Redskins. Travis also has that same issue and hasn’t quite developed to be a reliable weapon as of yet.

While they have had their issues in the past, they both came up on some big plays against the Texans on Sunday night. Harris ended the night with 3 catches for 21 yards and Travis ended the night with 2 for 26.  Travis especially surprised me with his two catches making both first downs.

Now neither of these guys will draw the attention that Kelce did nor will they be able to play at that level but it’s nice to know you have some depth at another position that might have a starter out. Harris has been around for a while and head coach Andy Reid really likes to find ways to get him the ball. Especially in the end zone.

Wide Receivers

The good news is that even without possibly the Chiefs biggest receiving weapon, the offense didn’t seem to miss a beat. Alex Smith completed passes to ten different players by the end of the night. Which is going to be key this coming weekend if Kelce isn’t ready to play. I don’t see that being too much of an issue with Reid’s playbook.

Most likely we will also see Tyreek Hill get some more looks and balls thrown his way.  Many fans have shown some frustration with Hill not getting the ball as much as they would like. When it comes to Reid’s offense though, the ball is going to get to as many receivers as possible.

We also might see a couple guys we aren’t used to seeing normally since wide receiver Chris Conley went down with an injured Achilles. My bet is that we will be seeing more of second-year receiver Demarcus Robinson. While he had a slow start to training camp, he looked fantastic in the final preseason game.

Robinson has come in from time to time and even had a really good sideline catch last week. My hope is that he will take over Conley’s role and keep wide receiver Albert Wilson in the slot where he is best.

Lean on the run game

Another one of the Chiefs biggest weapons is in the run game. Kareem Hunt has been more than reliable this year with four out of five of his games rushing for over 100 yards. He leads the league in yards by a good margin and is leading the race for offensive rookie of the year.

The run game is crucial to the Chiefs offense as it gives them a two-headed attack and the defense can’t just play for the pass. Defenses also have to respect Hunt when it comes to the passing game as Reid loves to use his running backs out of the backfield.

Most likely the Steelers will try and take away the run game which as proven last week doesn’t stop the Kansas City offense. Alex Smith and the receivers did more than enough to dominate the Texans even without their run game in the early parts of the game.