While fans are going to be excited to see some of their favorite players in any sort of real competition after six months off when the K.C. Chiefs visit the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, the reality is that the bulk of playing time is going to be reserved for fringe roster players who are hoping to wow the team’s coaching staff.
If only he were able to play.
When the Chiefs take the field on Saturday, it’s going to be very surprising if Callaway is able to suit up and play for the Chiefs given the fact that he’s missed every single practice since August 5—a full week of rest—with a bone bruise. Originally Callaway left practice a week ago with what looked like a knee injury, but the injury was confirmed later to be a bone bruise that has kept him out ever since.
Antonio Callaway’s missed the last week of Chiefs practice with a bone bruise.
As the Chiefs’ preseason opener looms for fans, the competition at wide receiver feels wide open—both for the spots immediately below Hill on the depth chart as well as the final spots that will be comprised of core special teamers. Chiefs practices in training camp have featured several players who have stepped up to shine at various points, but the Chiefs also have to factor in injuries like Callaway’s to figure out how the roster might shake out.
Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle look like safe bets to occupy the next few spots on the Chiefs depth chart. Beyond that, Callaway comes into view alongside other familiar faces like Marcus Kemp and Gehrig Dieter along with several others. This is where full games played against the likes of the 49ers or the Arizona Cardinals (next week’s game) is going to be important.
Unfortunately for Callaway, he’s been unable to practice right as games are getting underway. It’s one thing to look fast or responsive in a t-shirt and shorts. It’s another level with pads on in practice. But the game really comes alive when opposing guys are fighting for very real jobs, and it’s here that the coaches and front office personnel can get a much better sense of how much they can trust guys like Callaway to fit into the offense and/or do the job on special teams.
Callaway comes with the sort of speed and athleticism that’s special even at the professional level. No one can dispute that. It’s why the Chiefs added him to a reserve/futures deal back in the winter in the first place. He also has a decent history of production, albeit over only one season, in his rookie year with the Cleveland Browns back in 2018. It was then as a fourth round pick that he added 43 catches for 586 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Unfortunately since then, Callaway has dealt with multiple suspensions and injuries that even earned him a short stint in the XFL for a bit and a failed bid with the Miami Dolphins after the Browns parted ways with Callaway just a year after drafting him. Is he ready to focus and produce once again in the NFL? Can he be a part of the solution at wideout for the Chiefs? Or is he just a name among unknown faces vying for an active roster spot?
It would help Callaway’s cause significantly to be out there on the field on Saturday, but it looks like a long shot given that he’s missed a week of practices. We might have to wait to see how things look the following week against the Cardinals before reaching making our best educated guess as to how the active roster might shake out. Callaway has the talent, but he needs the time to be able to show what he’s got for the Chiefs in 2021.