Clyde Edwards-Helaire may wind up as the Chiefs starting running back in Week 1 after all.
Andy Reid surprised Chiefs fans yesterday when he announced it was a possibility that Isiah Pacheco, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and a hand injury, would open the year on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list.
Pacheco would miss the first six weeks of the season if he landed on the PUP, which would open the door for Edwards-Helaire to lead the Chiefs in rushing in the first half of the year.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire Could Start at Running Back
It’s been a tumultuous tenure for the former first-round pick, as injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued Edwards-Helaire through his first few seasons with the Chiefs.
If Pacheco misses time, Edwards-Helaire’s only competition for backfield touches would be Jerick McKinnon, who is a pass-catching specialist, and undrafted rookie Deneric Prince.
The Chiefs are high on Prince, but Edwards-Helaire’s familiarity with the offense and comfort with Patrick Mahomes gives him an edge. The former LSU standout’s best season in Kansas City was 2020 when he rushed for 803 yards while adding 297 yards through the air, though he did score six touchdowns last season in only 10 games.
Kansas City did not pick up Edwards-Helaire’s fifth-year option, so this is effectively a contract year. Getting an opportunity to showcase himself in the first six weeks may be a win-win scenario, as Edwards-Helaire could rebuild his value while the Chiefs protect Pacheco’s health for the latter portion of the season.
We’ll soon know whether Pacheco will be available. If he’s not, it looks like Edwards-Helaire will get one more opportunity to show he belongs as a stalwart in the backfield.