Thursday, March 30 2023

The Kansas City Chiefs activated tight end Jody Fortson from injured reserve and elevated wide receivers Marcus Kemp and Ihmir Smith-Marsette from the practice squad for Sunday night’s AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The move to activate Fortson on Saturday was widely expected after the big, rangy red-zone threat showed no lingering problems from his elbow injury in practice this week. Fortson has not played since Dec. 18 against the Houston Texans.

He filled a roster spot that was already available after the Chiefs waived cornerback Chris Lammons.

The decision to elevate Kemp and Smith-Marsette gives the Chiefs some insurance at wide receiver. Justin Watson was questionable on the final injury report because of an illness, while speedster Mecole Hardman has been dealing with a pelvis injury that landed him on IR and has kept him out of the lineup since Nov. 6 against the Tennessee Titans.


Asked whether Hardman could play this week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid replied: “Listen, he’s worked his tail off. I think he’s feeling better than what he was definitely last week, so we’ll see how he does.”

The Chiefs did not activate Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who like Fortson has been designated to return from IR and has spent the past couple of weeks at practice. The running back has not played since Nov. 20, and even then had been ceding time to seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco, who will start his 13th consecutive game against Cincinnati.

Pacheco ran 12 times for 95 yards in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over Jacksonville last week.

Kansas City is hosting the AFC title game for the fifth straight time, and it’s a rematch of last year’s championship game, when Patrick Mahomes and Co. blew an early 21-3 lead in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Bengals.

Mahomes practiced fully this week after spraining his right ankle against the Jaguars. He carried no injury designation on Friday’s final report, though, and the Chiefs expect Mahomes to start as usual.

“I think progressively I’ve gotten better throughout the week, and I’m just going to try to keep doing that,” he said. “Keep that same mentality and push it, but then at the same time be ready to go whenever the game comes up.”

Reporting by Associated Press.

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