The Kansas City Chiefs rolled to fifth-straight win opening the season with a 42-34 victory over the Houston Texans, but the victory came at a significant cost with wide receiver Chris Conley likely out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and tight end Travis Kelce entering the league’s concussion protocol.
Head coach Andy Reid suggested the prognosis for Kelce looked promising after the game.
“I’m just glad he’s okay,” Reid said during his post-game press conference. “He was good after the game, he was in a good place. That’s the most important thing down the road here.”
Reid said the unaffiliated neurological consultant (UNC) on the sideline cleared Kelce to return to the game. But memory issues for Kelce at halftime forced him from the game for good.
“He’s in the protocol right now,” Reid said. “He was cleared by the UNC in the tent, then came in at halftime and he just said — he couldn’t quite remember. He remembered on the field but he couldn’t quite remember things when he came off, so we just held him out from there. So they put him in the protocol.”
The confusion surrounding Kelce’s status appears reminiscent of the head injury quarterback Alex Smith sustained last year against Indianapolis. The team initially reported Smith sustained a concussion but later said tests showed he did not have a concussion.
Reid said he had not quarrels with the league’s concussion protocol.
“Whatever’s best for the kid,” Reid said. “I’m glad they found it. “Maybe in years past he plays, who knows.”
Kelce took a hit to the helmet from Houston safety Marcus Gilchrist at the end of a 26-yard gain with 1:12 remaining in the first half. Gilchrist received a 15-yard unnecessary roughness flag on the play. Kelce finished the game with eight catches for 98 yards.
There’s no timetable for Kelce’s return from the concussion protocol.
Conley’s injury, however, likely means the end of his season. Conley suffered the injury during an onside kick with just 2:57 remaining in the game. Conley jumped to grab the onside kick and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone until falling to the turf. Television cameras caught a noticeable pop in his right calf.
Conley finished the game with three catches for 46 yards. He has 11 catches for 175 yards on the season.
If tests confirm the diagnosis of a ruptured Achilles tendon, Conley would be the second starter loss for the season with a similar injury. Safety Eric Berry’s season ended in week with a torn Achilles tendon.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill briefly left the game after tweaking his ankle. He returned to the game, however, and later broke free for an 82-yard punt return. Wide receiver Albert Wilson left the game with a leg spasm and later returned but exited the game a second time.
The latest injuries add to the growing list of injuries hitting Chiefs starters. The entered the game against Houston without starting linebacker Dee Ford and offensive linemen Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Cornerback Steven Nelson remains on injured reserve, although he may return after week eight. Berry and running back Spencer Ware are out for the season on injured reserve. Linebacker Tamba Hali remains on the physically unable to perform list.
Losing Conley for the long-term and Wilson even for the short-term significantly strengthens the team’s bench at receiver. Behind Hill, Conley and Wilson, the team has De’Anthony Thomas, Demarcus Robinson and rookie Jehu Chesson. The team also two receivers on the practice squad, rookies Marcus Kemp and Gehrig Dieter.
Linebacker Justin Houston left the game late with a calf spasm. It is not know if the injury will impact Houston’s availability next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Backup safety Steven Terrell also sustained a concussion. He left the game after the opening kickoff.