Former BYU tight end Matt Bushman has been with the Kansas City Chiefs organization since January 2022, but he has yet to make a regular-season appearance for the team.
That could happen Thursday night when the 2023 NFL season kicks off with the Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions (6:20 p.m. MDT, NBC).
Bushman is being elevated from the Chiefs’ practice squad ahead of the game, as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, as “insurance in case Travis Kelce can’t go.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2023
Kelce, Kansas City’s eight-time Pro Bowl tight end, is officially inactive for Thursday night’s game, the team announced announced an hour and a half before game time — he hyperextended his knee on Tuesday and dealing with a bone bruise, according to ESPN.
The Chiefs star has been overwhelmingly durable — he’s missed only three games over the past eight seasons.
Gray, a third-year pro, had 28 receptions for 299 yards and a touchdown last season for Kansas City, while Bell is a nine-year veteran in his fourth season with the Chiefs.
Who is Matt Bushman?
So, how does Bushman factor into all of this?
He was a practice squad member with the Chiefs last year — though he missed a large portion of the year with a broken clavicle — and is again on the practice squad this season.
Bushman won a Super Bowl ring with the team when Kansas City beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl 57 back in February.
This is the first time he is on the active roster for Kansas City in a regular-season game, and Bushman is seen more as a pass-catching option at tight end.
Kelce spoke highly of Bushman ahead of last year’s Super Bowl, which was played in Glendale, Arizona, just a few hours away from Bushman’s hometown in Tucson.
“It’s been cool to see his growth. He was definitely making some plays in training camp and in the preseason before he got banged up, and it’s good to have him back in the building,” Kelce said of Bushman, as previously reported by the Deseret News.
“I’m sure he’s flying high right now being in the Super Bowl in his home state.”
Does Matt Bushman have NFL experience?
Bushman’s only regular-season play in his NFL career came as an undrafted rookie with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021, when he played 11 offense snaps and 10 on special teams over two games for the Raiders.
In Kansas City, Bushman has only appeared in the preseason, though he’s made a good impression at times.
In the Chiefs’ 2022 preseason finale, Bushman had three catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns, though he was injured on the final catch — the broken clavicle he suffered led to Bushman reaching an injury settlement with the team before Kansas City brought him back to the practice squad in December.
During the 2023 preseason, Bushman caught four passes for 54 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown in the team’s preseason finale that gave Kansas City the lead after trailing by as many as 19 points against the Cleveland Browns.