The Kansas City Chiefs will be without two primary playmakers on both sides of the ball when they take the field on Sunday afternoon against the Cleveland Browns. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters on Friday that both linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. and wide receiver Sammy Watkins will be missing with injuries after being designated as out for the game.
The Chiefs are hosting the Browns on Sunday at Arrowhead in their first game in two weeks and up to three weeks for several of the team’s starters—including Watkins—given that Reid rested players in Week 17. However, Watkins as well as rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire still aren’t back to 100 percent just yet which means the Chiefs will hope to pull through without them for at least another week.
Watkins has been an important physical target who provides the Chiefs with a reliable pass catcher for when defenses want to key in too heavily on Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The mismatch provided with Watkins also in the fold became a major factor for the Chiefs last year at this time as Watkins put up a tremendous postseason run. Without him, the Chiefs would not have made it to Super Bowl LIV after he put up 14 catches for 288 yards in three games.
Gay was the team’s second round pick in last spring’s first-year player draft, and he was an important defensive addition for a team that has struggled with subpar athleticism among its linebacking corps ever since Derrick Johnson retired. Gay has taken time to get used to playing at the pro level, but he’s gained confidence with each passing week and the Chiefs’ inability to utilize him will hurt their efforts to slow Browns running backs like Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
As for Edwards-Helaire, the team says he’s questionable for the game at this point. He practiced in full on Wednesday and was then limited on Thursday. Reid said it’s literally day-to-day at this point, but fortunately the Chiefs are loaded with Le’Veon Bell also in the fold.