The Chiefs might have to return to an alternate plan at running back for Sunday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium.
A day after putting in a limited practice, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) wasn’t observed on the practice field Thursday. The Chiefs later confirmed the second-year pro didn’t participate.
But if there are any concerns of entering the first round of the playoffs without their starting running back, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy didn’t show it.
“Clyde is going to do everything he can to be out there this weekend and we will let the people take care of what they need to take care of,” Bieniemy said Thursday.
Still, there should be some level of apprehension regarding Edwards-Helaire’s availability not just for Saturday but beyond, should the favored Chiefs advance to the next round.
Thursday marked a seventh missed practice since Edwards-Helaire suffered a collarbone injury in Week 16 against the Steelers. The injury also prevented Edwards-Helaire from playing the final two games of the regular season.
There was some good news in the Chiefs’ backfield, however, as Darrel Williams (toe) put in a limited practice for the second straight day.
With Williams working to return and healthy options Derrick Gore and Jerick McKinnon available if Edwards-Helaire can’t play Sunday, the Chiefs aren’t worried about backfield depth.
“My comfort level is where it always is: the next man is up,” Bieniemy said. “(Running backs coach) Greg Lewis is doing a heck of a job with those guys, and when given the opportunity, those guys have proven they can rise to the challenge.
“I expect our guys, regardless of who’s out there playing, to go out there and play hard and play fast, but on top of that give us something productive to help us secure a victory.”
Providing he’s a go for Sunday, Williams would project to again fill in as the starter in the event of Edwards-Helaire’s continued absence.
Williams finished the season as the Chiefs’ leading rusher, totaling 558 yards and six touchdowns on 144 carries. The fourth-year pro added 452 yards and two touchdowns on 47 catches, recording his first 1,000-yard season in total yards from scrimmage (1,010).
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill (heel) put in a limited practice Thursday after practicing fully Wednesday. The Chiefs could be deciding to hold back on Hill, who saw limited action in Week 18. His participation level on Friday will be closely monitored.
Tight end Travis Kelce (hip), safety Tyrann Mathieu (knee), left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (calf), right tackle Andrew Wylie (glute), linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (wrist) and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (knee) practiced fully for a second straight day.
For the Steelers, running back Najee Harris (elbow) and guard Trai Turner (knee) did not practice Thursday. Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral, right shoulder), tackle Dan Moore Jr. (ankle) and defensive back Arthur Maulet (concussion) returned to a full practice after being limited Wednesday.