Jerick McKinnon's injury asks questions of Chiefs running back depth

Can the Chiefs handle the rigors of a full season with this backfield?
Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs might be fine when the dust settles on another week of practice. If Sunday comes and the Chiefs have Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the ready, then all of this might seem a bit sensational. But at the present moment, the quesiton must be asked: Are the Chiefs okay at running back?

The reason for this is that McKinnon went from being a full participant in Wednesday's practice to sitting out of practice completely on Thursday due to a groin injury. The trajectory fans want to see from any player heading toward the weekend is from lesser amounts of practice to more but instead the Chiefs are dealing with this hiccup.

No one, at this point, knows whether the Chiefs will be wringing their hands about McKinnon's future, but it only takes a single practice to realize that anyone going missing in the team's primary tandem would bring about serious concerns in the run game.

Can the Chiefs handle the rigors of a full season with this backfield?

So far this season, McKinnon only has 9 carries for 23 yards and 14 catches for 115 receiving yards with 2 scores. That's not even 20 yards from scrimmage per game. But McKinnon's stat line on the season doesn't do him justice. He proved just last Sunday how valuable he is to this team's offense and what they want to do in specific subpackages with the skill set he brings to the table.

Against Los Angeles in Week 7, an early 48-yard touchdown was nullified by a penalty and his pass blocking came up huge at key times as Patrick Mahomes finally helped put away the Chargers late in the game. McKinnon's contributions go overlooked in the boxscore or to the casual fan, but there's a reason this coaching staff trusts him implicitly (as does Mahomes).

If McKinnon cannot go, the Chiefs do not have an answer for his absence. It's not as if the coaching staff cannot make the requisite changes to the game plan to compensate, but it's alarming at just how steep the fall is if anything were to happen to him and/or Pacheco. Edwards-Helaire has been an anvil on the offense any time he touches the ball and there's absolutely no one on the active roster after them.

Say what you want about running backs being easily replaced, but none of those are in the Chiefs camp at this point. Anyone wanting to romanticize La'Mical Perine or Deneric Prince is going to find themselves disappointed by the actual on-field results when it counts, which leads me to believe that K.C. might want to have someone on speed dial outside of Arrowhead.

Roster limits might keep the Chiefs from having anyone else active right now, but depending on what is happening with McKinnon's injury, things could get dicey in short order.