KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Travis Kelce was inactive for the Kansas City Chiefs' game against the Detroit Lions in the NFL's season opener Thursday night, two days after the All-Pro tight end hyperextended his knee in the team's final full practice.
The 33-year-old Kelce had not missed a game to injury since his rookie season in 2013, when he missed all but one to have a microfracture procedure to repair a cartilage problem in his knee. Kelce has twice been held out of meaningless games to end the regular season and missed a game in December 2021 after testing positive to COVID-19.
Kelce avoided any ligament damage Tuesday but was dealing with a bone bruise and swelling. He planned to test the knee before kickoff against the Lions, but Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder and coach Andy Reid had final say on whether he would play.
By sitting out Thursday night, Kelce has 10 days before the Chiefs play again Sept. 17 at Jacksonville.
Kelce is coming off one of the best seasons of his 10-year career. He had 110 catches for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning a spot on the All-Pro first team for the fourth time. He also was selected to the Pro Bowl for the eighth straight season.
“I’ve been very fortunate that we have the best training staff in the league,” Kelce said earlier in the week, before hurting his knee. “There’s a lot that goes into it. You just have to be a professional, and you just have to be very fortunate.
“Actually,” he said, “there’s lot of fortune that goes into the game and staying healthy and being out there every week.”
Noah Gray and Blake Bell were the primary tight ends for Kansas City against the Lions.
Chris Jones also was unavailable for the Chiefs, though that was expected. The All-Pro defensive tackle has been holding out for a new contract. Jones said at a charity event Wednesday he could be ready to play against the Lions if the sides reached a last-minute agreement, otherwise he planned to watch the game from a suite.
Jones, who is in the final year of a four-year, $80 million contract, was not deemed inactive because he was on the reserve/did not report list and not the 53-man roster. He already has been fined millions for missing mandatory workouts, training camp and losing a roster bonus, and will lose about $1.1 million for each game he is absent.
“Hopefully it gets worked out," said Jones, who's been working out in Miami and whose agents, Jason and Michael Katz, joined him in Kansas City this week. “It’s always been my goal to be a Kansas City Chief for life. I’ve said that multiple times on social media platforms, from interviews, and they know where my position is at.”
The absence of both Kelce and Jones became likely earlier in the day, when the Chiefs promoted tight end Matt Bushman and defensive tackle Matt Dickerson from the practice squad. Bushman has appeared in two NFL games with Las Vegas during the 2021 season, and Dickerson has appeared in 24 for Tennessee and Atlanta since 2018.
Along with Kelce, the Chiefs made inactive cornerbacks Nic Jones and Darius Rush, defensive end BJ Thompson, newly acquired defensive tackle Neil Farrell, and offensive linemen Wanya Morris and Lucas Niang.
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney and cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, both of whom missed most of camp with knee issues, were active for the Chiefs. So was defensive tackle Turk Wharton, who was playing for the first time since tearing his ACL last season.
Lions cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, who recently returned to practice after rehabbing an injury sustained last season, was inactive. So were defensive linemen Isaiah Buggs, Romeo Okwara and Brodric Martin and cornerback Steven Gilmore.
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