Chiefs confident in RBs Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon after Clyde Edwards-Helaire injury

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The Kansas City Chiefs will be without RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire for three weeks as he recovers from an MCL sprain on the injured reserve list.

It’s a tough blow to lose Edwards-Helaire now, especially when he was just starting to get hot with back-to-back 100-yard performances in Week 3 and Week 4. Asked about the plan at the running back position, Chiefs HC Andy Reid wasted no time, evoking the “next man up” mentality that he’s utilized over the years.

Reid gave a vote of confidence to the rest of his running back room, saying they’ll be able to handle the load in the absence of Edwards-Helaire.

“We’ve got 31 (Darrel Williams) and 1 (Jerick McKinnon), they’re good players,” Reid said. “We can put (Derrick) Gore up too. He was productive during the preseason, so we have the possibility of doing that. But we have trust in the other two guys, in particular Darrel. He’s been productive for a number of years here.”

Williams, a fourth-year veteran and the longest-tenured running back on the Chiefs roster, will be the first man up in place of Edwards-Helaire. Williams joined the team as an undrafted free agent out of LSU in 2018. He has never started a regular-season game during his NFL career, but he did fill in for Edwards-Helaire during playoffs last season, earning his first career start against the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round. Williams carried the ball 13 times for 78 yards and caught 4-of-4 passes for 16 yards, for what was the second-most productive game of his career.

While Williams has never rushed for over 100 yards in a single game, he’s eager for an opportunity to prove that he can be a bell-cow back for Kansas City over the next few weeks.

“That would mean a lot to me because I worked my whole life to be a starter in the league, and I finally get this chance,” Williams said. “I finally get this opportunity, and I’ve just got to make the most of it.”

Spelling Williams will be Jerick McKinnon, who started 18 games during his career with the majority of those games coming during his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He has seldom been used in the running game by Kansas City this season, recording just one carry last week against Buffalo. He has, however, caught three passes on three targets for 27 yards.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes shared his head coach’s confidence that both Williams and McKinnon will step up in the absence of their teammate. He knows it’s in their DNA to do so.

“I think it’s just that they’ve done it before,” Mahomes told reporters of his confidence in the halfback duo. “You’ve seen these guys. Darrel (Williams) has stepped up in big spots his whole career here filling in and running strong and running tough. If you watch Jerick McKinnon’s career, he’s been a guy who’s made plays in a lot of different spots. I have trust that he’ll come in here and make plays here as well.”

There’s also Derrick Gore, the preseason standout who had 168 yards of total offense and a touchdown in the preseason. He was elevated to the 53-man roster when Edwards-Helaire was sent to injured reserve. He’ll serve as depth for now, but should he get his chance to play, watch out.

However the snaps shake out in Week 6, the Chiefs are confident that they have three capable backs who can weather the storm. They’ll lean on those players to make plays while Edwards-Helaire gets his knee right over the next three weeks.

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