Chiefs news: Jody Fortson's injury could alter predictable tight end picture

Everyone glosses over tight end with the belief we'll see the same quartet again in 2023, but will we...?
Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson (88) against the
Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson (88) against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to making final active roster predictions for this year's version of the Kansas City Chiefs, the response at tight end is likely somewhere between "yep" and glossed over entirely. That's because we're used to seeing the same faces year after year.

The Chiefs have been rolling with the same basic cast of characters at tight end for a little while now. And while injuries might upend things from time to time, when healthy, the unit as a whole often serves up the same quartet: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell.

But this preseason, Chiefs fans might want to tap the brakes on one of those players because an injury in training camp—serious or not—might be signalling something bigger than the Chiefs will need to consider for Fortson.

Everyone glosses over the Chiefs tight ends with the belief we'll see the same quartet again in 2023.

On Friday, the Chiefs lost a few players to various injuries in the team's first practice with pads on in the summer heat of St. Joseph. Linebacker Drue Tranquill left with a neck strain. Defensive end Mike Danna left with a calf strain. Fortson had a shoulder issue.

There were no updates given from the team or coaching staff as to the severity of these injuries, so timelines to return are unknown at this stage. That said, the question now has to be asked of Fortson: should fans just assume he's a part of the active core?

Fortson is certainly an exciting weapon in theory. He's a former wide receiver with great hands and length who should be a solid end zone option as other players, who are more well-known, draw the atteniton of defenders near the goal line. But those visions have never really played out for one reason or another—including other severe injuries or a lack of opportunity.

For all of the stories written about Fortson's potential, the truth is that Fortson joined the team in Patrick Mahomes' first season as a starting quarterback and, since then, he's caught 14 passes for 155 yards and 2 scores. That's averaging 3 catches for 39 yards per year, and he'll turn 28-years-old in December.

The proof in the pudding for Fortson is that he was always a longshot to ever make the Chiefs roster out of Valdosta State and he's still here four years later. He went from practice squad player to active roster and he's got two Super Bowl rings to show for his efforts, too. It's also true that Fortson missed much of the 2021 season with an Achilles and he had elbow and quad issues last season. Now it's a shoulder.

No one wants to knock Fortson for things that aren't his fault. It's just that it's also true that some of the assumptions that Fortson is an automatic yes without argument is also likely illogical at this point. For someone like Matt Bushman or Kendall Blanton, the other tight ends on the roster, the door might be more open than the average fan will know or admit.