KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The NFL postseason has whittled down the final four teams remaining with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line this week yet it seems this week all eyes across the league are focused on the right ankle of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
And the high-ankle sprain is trending in the right direction according to the quarterback himself.
“It’s doing good,” Mahomes said during his press conference following the team’s morning walkthrough and before its afternoon practice. “A few days of treatment, a few days of rehab. Excited to get on the practice field and kind of test it out and see where I’m at but it’s feeling good so far.”
Chiefs fans held their breath starting the moment Jacksonville defensive end Arden Key fell on the right ankle of Mahomes and rolled over it. The quarterback finished the drive but later went to the locker room for X-rays before returning to the game starting the second half.
Demonstrably in pain during the second half of the win over the Jaguars, Mahomes underwent additional testing Saturday night to confirm there was no additional damage in his ankle. He started treatment that evening as well and noticed a difference Sunday morning.
“I felt better than I thought I was going to be after the game,” Mahomes said. “Moving on it during the game definitely hurt but after the game I was able to rest it and kind of ice it up and do different stuff like, I felt in a little bit better position. Then obviously the next morning I felt a little bit better and I’ve continued to get better throughout the week.”
After three days full of rehab, treatment and studying film, Mahomes took part in the team’s walkthrough on Wednesday morning under the watchful eye of head coach Andy Reid.
“He did well in the walkthrough, and we’ll just take the next step and see where he’s at with it and go,” Reid said.
Reid saw enough to pronounce Mahomes ready to handle a full workload. He still wants to see how he will function in the practice environment.
“We’ll see but I think he’ll do probably everything,” Reid said. “But we’ll see.”
Mahomes said the injury feels very similar to the high ankle sprain he suffered in his left ankle in 2019. That injury occurred during the season opener against the Jaguars. Mahomes didn’t leave that contest, and the next week threw for 443 yards and four scores on the road against the Oakland Raiders.
The one significant difference is the earlier injury affected his landing leg while this injury impacts his push-off leg. Mahomes plans to spend his three days of practice this week testing his limitations and pushing his body to see what he can and cannot do while managing pain and discomfort. Finding a workaround to ensure he can push off from his right foot without affecting his delivery is something he says he has to work through.
“I’ve done limited stuff, kind of in a small box of what I can do, but I’ll push a little bit today and then the next day and then the next day again and see what I can do to not reaggravate the injury obviously but to push it and see what I’ll be able to do on Sunday,” he said.
With two high-ankle sprains, a dislocated kneecap and a turf toe that require offseason surgery, Mahomes has managed the dents and dings that come with the job as an NFL quarterback. It’s nothing new for him, Reid says.
“He knows that and he’s pushing through right now,” Reid explained. “We’ll just see. We’ll see how he does here. You’re going to be looking at him like we’re looking at him.”
Mahomes said the turf toe was his most difficult injury to play through yet each physical challenge has taught him lessons for how to handle this week’s preparation.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of them and you kind of have to mentally just get yourself to focus on what needs to be focused on, and that’s the team that you’re playing,” Mahomes said. “You prepare your body all week and then when you get to Sunday you focus on playing the football game, and that’s what I’m trying to do this week.”