SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During the Chiefs’ first full day on the ground in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII, the club made a much-anticipated roster move by adding running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the active roster and playing wide receiver Mecole Hardman on season-ending injured reserve.
Edwards-Helaire started the season as the Chiefs’ No. 1 running back but slowly gave way to rookie Isiah Pacheco, who supplanted him in the starting role in Week 7. Edwards-Helaire ranked third on the team with 302 yards rushing, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with three rushing touchdowns while catching 17 passes for 151 yards and three scores.
Head coach Andy Reid last week said he would take a wait-and-see-approach with Edwards-Helaire before making a roster decision. Monday’s move sends the message the Chiefs believe Edwards-Helaire is ready to return to the backfield by committee the Chiefs utilized much of the season.
“He’ll practice and we’ll see where he’s at,” Reid said. “We’re just taking it day-by-day and see kind of how he’s feeling and how well he’s doing during practice but also after practice.”
However, the third-year running back suffered a high-ankle spring in the team’s Week 11 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers and landed on injured reserve. He missed the remainder of the regular season before the club designated him to return from IR on Jan. 17. The club had until Tuesday to add Edwards-Helaire back to the active roster or shut him down for the remainder of the season.
Where Edwards-Helaire lines up in the pecking order, however, remains unknown. He played just four snaps in his last full game against Jacksonville in Week 10 and was seeing work behind both Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon. His return also puts in doubt the status of Ronald Jones. The Chiefs will likely carry three active running backs plus fullback Micheal Burton on Sunday, perhaps leaving Jones as the odd man out.
He takes over the roster spot from Hardman, who returned to action in last week’s AFC Championship game after a 10-game absence due to an abdominal issue and a setback during his recovery involving his pelvis. Hardman finished the regular season with 25 receptions for 297 yards and four touchdowns along with four rushes for 31 yards and two scores.
His gritty performance against the Bengals in the AFC title tilt earned him praise from Reid. Hardman caught two passes for 10 yards against the Bengals with two rushes for 14 yards before the pain from the pelvis injury pushed him from the lineup.
“He did a great job of playing in that game the other day,” Reid said Thursday. “Very courageous effort and my heart goes out to the kid because he busted his tail.”
The Chiefs finished the Bengals game with just three healthy receivers in Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and practice squad receiver Marcus Kemp. Both JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle/hamstring) play to practice Wednesday to test their readiness for the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team will likely elevate Kemp from the practice squad for both special teams play and receiver depth this weekend against the Eagles. If the event either Smith-Schuster or Toney — or even both — can’t play this weekend, the Chiefs also have Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Jerrion Ealy as options on the practice squad.