The Kansas City Chiefs are big favorites for their Divisional Round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but they will likely be without their starting running back.
Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire missed the last two games of the regular season with hip and ankle injuries. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Edwards-Helaire will not play on Sunday “barring some dramatic improvement.”
Darrell Williams and Le’Veon Bell will likely split carries if Edwards-Helaire is unable to go. Many expected Bell to take on a huge role with Edwards-Helaire out, but that has not been the case. In fact, Bell had to hit back at his critics recently over his lack of production.
Edwards-Helaire rushed for 803 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry during the regular season. The former LSU star also added 36 catches for 297 yards.
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Le’Veon Bell certainly appears to be trying to make friends and start his Kansas City Chiefs tenure off on the right note.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy revealed Thursday that Bell reached out to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire before joining the Chiefs to ensure that the rookie did not have a problem with Bell signing with Kansas City.
This certainly speaks to Edwards-Helaire’s importance to the Chiefs. He’s still the back of the future and largely the present, even though Bell will take some of his touches.
It also reflects well on Bell. He clashed with coaches at times in New York and his time there wasn’t very pretty. He’s already taking a very different approach with the Chiefs. A solid end to the season and no behind-the-scenes problems could help rehabilitate his image in the eyes of the rest of the league..
The Kansas City Chiefs made a big pickup in the NFL Draft by taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall pick.
Edwards-Helaire had a big all-around season for LSU last year. He had 1,414 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns and 55 catches for 453 receiving yards.
Edwards-Helaire should figure heavily into Kansas City’s passing game, which frequently utilizes running backs. But one area of concern for Edwards-Helaire as a draft prospect was his pass-blocking.
Eric Bieniemy, who is Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, took some media questions and was asked about Edwards-Helaire and the back’s pass-blocking.
“He does have the willingness to block. And he understands that’s a huge asset that’s going to help him moving forward. But one thing I will say, he does have the attitude and mindset to get it done, so I’m not concerned with that,” Bieniemy said of Edwards-Helaire.
Edwards-Helaire will be competing with Damien Williams and, to a lesser extent, Darwin Thompson, for playing time. Many are projecting a big season from Edwards-Helaire, who should provide a nice boost for the defending Super Bowl champions. Whether he is able to pick up the pass-blocking will factor into how well-rounded he can become as a running back. The positive attitude speaks favorably about his possibility of improving in that regard.
The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award can be tough to predict. It’s based as much on opportunity as anything else; if you don’t play as a rookie, you’re obviously not going to excel. Add in the uncertainty of predicting how a first-year player will adapt to the league, and it can be a bit of a crapshoot.
Still, we can make some educated guesses based on opportunity and ability. With that in mind, here are our five early favorites for 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.