KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The absence of crutches and the lack of a limp offered good hints.
Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali entered the locker room without both and was immediately engulfed by reporters during Wednesday’s media session.
His response to the first question said it all.
“I plan on it,” Hali responded when asked about his availability for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. “I plan on playing.”
The two-time Pro Bowler suffered an ankle injury during the first half of Week 12’s loss against the San Diego Chargers and had to be carted to the locker room. But apparently, the injury isn’t as severe as it initially appeared when Hali left the game.
Hali said he suffered a “first degree” ankle sprain, and then complimented the training staff in helping his recovery.
“The training staff has done a great job of jumping on the injury,” Hali said. “Being proactive, being here early in the pool running.”
Coach Andy Reid said during his media briefing that Hali went through the team’s morning walk-through, but added the team won’t rush and expose Hali to further injury.
Still, Reid sounded optimistic on Hali’s availability against the Broncos.
“I think there’s a good chance he’s there, but we’ll see,” Reid said. “It’s day-to-day here, but every day he’s made progress. That he went through the walk-though, I thought was a big step.”
While Hali said he plans on playing, he also concedes he’s not 100 percent healthy.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Hali said. “I know I could push off. I haven’t cut yet, but I know I could push off and run forward. I haven’t run yet, but I believe I can do it because I’ve been doing it in on the treadmill.”
Still, potentially having Hali in the lineup provides a boost for a Chiefs defense that left Week 12 with a cloud of uncertainty surrounding their top edge pass rushers.
The early signs point to Hali being available Sunday, but the status of outside linebacker Justin Houston (elbow) remains in the air.
Houston, who did not practice Wednesday, had an MRI after not being able to the past two days due to swelling.
Meanwhile, Hali is also officially listed on Wednesday’s initial NFL Injury Report as not practicing.
However, he participated without a helmet in the team’s pre-practice team warmups, which includes light jogging in place and stretching.
Hali’s ankle was not taped and he appeared to move without noticeable limitations.