The Kansas City Chiefs are only two days away from the NFL’s season-opening game against the Detroit Lions and the injury list is getting longer, not shorter. The latest name to hit the list is wide receiver Richie James.
The Chiefs practiced over Labor Day weekend with the Thursday Night Football opener coming up at Arrowhead on September 7, and James was limited in practice with a knee injury. It seems as if knee problems in particular are plaguing the team these days.
The Chiefs have also watched wide receiver Kadarius Toney, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, and defensive tackle Turk Wharton all deal with knee injuries this preseason. In fact, it’s uncertain just how many snaps any of these players will get on Thursday knowing they could re-injure themselves in an early game. If they rest, they get another 10 days or so until Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
James is of primary importance on special teams now that the Chiefs have cut Deneric Prince from the active roster and traded receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette—a sentiment emphasized even in the face of his injury by special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The Chiefs can certainly add others into the mix but the preseason competition was really down to James and some other role players vying for his primary backup.
Given that James was still only limited in practice instead of sitting out completely, and Toub’s comments this week that James was still the primary returner, it feels safe to say that the Chiefs expect James to be okay
Last year, rookies Isiah Pacheco and Skyy Moore were both among return candidates, but both players should take on primary offensive roles in ’22 and the Chiefs would like to keep both fresh for the task at hand.
James signed with the Chiefs this offseason after a breakout campaign with the New York Giants in the face of injury. With a golden opportunity before him, James became a go-to receiver for Daniel Jones in ’22 with 57 catches for 569 yards.