Head Injuries: Possible Timetables Explained for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kadarius Toney

The Kansas City Chiefs’ thrilling 30-27 win over the Los Angeles Chargers came with its fair share of bumps and bruises. As the game progressed, injury updates continued to flow, causing concern throughout the Chiefs reign.

Several Chiefs starters were lost to injuries, this after the Chiefs had already entered the game shorthanded, with wide receivers Mecole Hardman (abdominal illness) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) completely out of action.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, safety Juan Thornhill and rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson all missed parts or the rest of the game with injuries. As always, more information on the availability of these players is awaited once the squad returns to training camp on Wednesday.

Many of these players have histories of injury, which could impact their timeline to return.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire high ankle sprain

Based on head coach Andy Reid’s comments in the postgame press conference, Edwards-Helaire’s sprained ankle sustained in the first quarter has the potential to be the Chiefs’ most significant injury yet.

“He’s a tough guy, but he doesn’t look good,” Reid said. “High ankle sprains on running backs aren’t always the best. We’ll see how he fares in recovery, but right now he’s pretty soft.”

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Reid, who doesn’t normally give much injury information immediately after the game, didn’t seem overly positive about the state of Edwards-Helaire.

He was right, in that “high ankle sprains for running backs aren’t always the best.”

The injury involves damage to the syndesmosis, which are the upper ankle ligaments that connect the two bones of the lower leg: the fibula And tibia. There are two ligaments comprising the syndesmosis, as well as the interosseous membrane, which is essentially connective tissue between the two bones. All or some of these structures may have been damaged by Edwards-Helaire’s injury.

A high ankle sprain differs from a common ankle sprain based on the location of the injury and the mechanism of the injury. A high ankle sprain most commonly occurs with torsion or rotational injuries, when the foot is turned outward from the leg. A high ankle sprain takes a longer period of time to heal and recover than the more common lateral (low) ankle sprain.

Unfortunately, this isn’t Edwards-Helaire’s first ride with ankle injuries. He missed time in the 2020 season with a sprained ankle, as well as the 2021 preseason with the same injury. If the most recent injury occurred on the same side as these previous injuries, it could further delay healing or complicate rehabilitation.

Based on Reid’s postgame comments and the nature of this injury, Edwards-Helaire’s injury history and position at running back, Edwards-Helaire’s recovery is expected to take several weeks.

If the Chiefs determine he will be held out for a significant amount of time, he could be placed on injured reserve, with offensive tackle Lucas Niang potentially set to be elevated from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list following his rehabilitation from a breakup of the patellar tendon.

Kadarius Toney’s infamous hamstring

Some Chiefs fans likely met Toney’s initial arrival to the team via trade with some hesitation, due to his history of injuries. The start of Toney’s young career with the New York Giants was hampered by frequent injuries, playing only 12 games during his first two seasons before joining the Chiefs.

Toney’s career with the Chiefs got off to an exciting start, with him providing an exciting element of speed up front and a much needed spark the team needed. He assured fans that he was healthy and the Chiefs brass agreed. He recorded the first touchdown reception of his career in a 27-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Unfortunately, soft tissue injuries can be uncomfortable and long-lasting, which seems to be the case for Toney. Toney missed Weeks 3-7 this season with a hamstring problem. Reid reported after the game that Toney’s hamstring “got stiff”.

Hopefully for Toney and the Chiefs it’s just a “tightener”, and not a new escalation of tension, which could waste Toney time as the Chiefs enter their late-season push to the playoffs. This isn’t the first hamstring strain the Chiefs have faced in 2022, as cornerback Trent McDuffie was out for seven games with the injury.

It’s possible Toney will miss some games to give himself more time to recover, so he’s fully open for the playoff push.

Looking forward

As a result of the hard-fought victory over the Chargers, the Chiefs may be missing some key pieces as they prepare to take on the 3-7 Los Angeles Rams. Edwards-Helaire is expected to be unavailable, with a high probability that Toney will be out of practice this week.

Less is known about the injuries sustained by Thornhill and Watson. Updates are expected from Reid as he has media availability throughout the week. Chiefs fans will also be monitoring the status of Smith-Schuster and cornerback Chris Lammons, who remain in concussion protocol from injuries sustained in Week 10.

It’s a season where the Chiefs have certainly faced adversity. Yet they remain in first place for their seventh consecutive AFC West championship and control their own destiny in the race for the number one seed in the playoffs.

It may once again be time for young players to step up and produce, as the Chiefs prepare to take on the defending Super Bowl champions.

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