Chiefs' approach to Kadarius Toney stems entirely from bigger picture

Nothing matters to the Chiefs except making sure Kadarius Toney is fully ready to go when the games matter the most.
Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

When it comes to Kadarius Toney, the majority of the conversations surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver is all about how soon he could return to the field. While that makes sense for any player who has been injured, the Chiefs' focus seems completely on the bigger picture when it comes to Toney and any projection.

The Chiefs lost Toney on the first day of training camp after a long offseason of hype in which the team reportedly referred to him as their No. 1 wideout. The hope was that he could stay healthy in a new environment working with a new training staff, but it only took a few minutes into the first practice of camp for Toney to leave with a knee problem.

Nothing matters to the Chiefs except making sure Kadarius Toney is fully ready to go when the games matter the most.

From there, the Chiefs announced that Toney would require surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus suffered during special teams drills. Just like that, Toney was lost for some time—not just a few days of rest on a problematic knee but several weeks missed due to actual knee surgery.

Since then, rumors have circulated that Toney might be ready for Week 1 for the Chiefs even after such a procedure—a return date of September 7 for the team's home opener against the visiting Detroit Lions. While that would be nice, it's also important to listen to the Chiefs' decision-makers for what they are picturing when it comes to Toney.

Assistant GM Mike Borgonzi spoke to reporters from the second-to-last day of training camp and addressed Toney's potential return. Within his comments were some interesting phrases that emphasized the filter by which the team will be making all decisions when it comes to handling Toney in 2023.

“...We want to make sure he’s 100%. We want to make sure he’s there for the games and we know what he brings to the table — it’s his playmaking ability, so we’re not going to rush it. I don’t think we have any expectations right now. We’re just going to take it day by day and see how he is.”

Within that, there are numerous moments where he taps the breaks, as he says "not going to rush it" or "not having expectations" or taking it "day by day". That's Borgonzi saying the same thing over and over again in different ways—all to emphasize one point. And that point is this: Toney is a game-changing element and we need to make sure he's able to change the biggest games.

That's not to say that the Chiefs are going to keep Toney wrapped up in a box until the Super Bowl or something bananas. But it is important to note that the Chiefs schedule is easier in the first half and if Toney is showing any complications at all, the Chiefs aren't going to force him back. They have the horses to handle the competition in the early going, and Toney's impact on important games is something to consider for the long term.

Chiefs Kingdom might end up seeing Toney back in the lineup in Week 1, but if so, it would only be limited at that. Toney needs time to work his way back into shape after missing camp, and the Chiefs aren't going to lean on him for anything until it matters most. That might be frustrating for those of us who want to see this offense at full-strength but the team's focused on the bigger picture of a title defense.