Super Bowl 2023: Chiefs activate RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire from injured reserve, place WR Mecole Hardman on IR

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be available to play in the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs said Monday that Edwards-Helaire had been activated from injured reserve. The team created a spot on the active roster by placing wide receiver Mecole Hardman on injured reserve. Hardman re-injured his pelvis during the second half of the AFC championship game win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Edwards-Helaire, a 2020 first-round draft pick, hasn’t played since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the Chiefs’ win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 20. Before his injury, the third-year rusher had been overtaken by rookie Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon on the depth chart. Edwards-Helaire had 19 carries for 92 yards in a Week 4 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and hasn’t had more than nine carries in a game since. He has 71 carries for 302 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 17 catches for 151 yards.

Edwards-Helaire’s ankle injury came as McKinnon was becoming a bigger part of the Chiefs’ passing game. McKinnon has served as the team’s primary pass-catching and third-down back and has five games with five or more catches since the beginning of November. McKinnon also had at least one TD catch in a span of six consecutive regular-season games while Edwards-Helaire was sidelined.

If Edwards-Helaire plays in the Super Bowl, it likely means that Ronald Jones will be inactive for the Super Bowl. Jones had been a healthy scratch for much of the season until Edwards-Helaire’s ankle injury. All 18 of Jones’ carries in the regular season and postseason have come while Edwards-Helaire has been on injured reserve.

Since Edwards-Helaire was a first-round draft pick in 2020, the Chiefs will need to make a decision to pick up his fifth-year option this spring. Given Pacheco’s emergence after he was taken in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft and Edwards-Helaire’s declining production over his three seasons, it seems unlikely the Chiefs will commit to Edwards-Helaire for the 2024 season ahead of the 2023 season.

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 06: Clyde Edwards-Helaire #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on November 6, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire could play in the Super Bowl after being sidelined since Nov. 20 with a high ankle sprain. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Hardman returned for AFC title game

The AFC title game was Hardman’s first game back since he was bent awkwardly while getting tackled against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 6. He had two catches for 10 yards and two carries for 7 yards until he aggravated that pelvis injury against the Bengals.

Hardman’s injury against Cincinnati came as the Chiefs were hit with a rash of injuries at receiver during that game. JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a knee injury, and Kadarius Toney suffered an ankle injury in that game. All three receivers didn’t return to the game after their injuries, and the Chiefs played much of the second half with just three healthy wide receivers. Both Smith-Schuster and Toney could be available to play against the Eagles.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid hadn’t been optimistic about Hardman’s chances of playing in the Super Bowl before he went on injured reserve. Hardman has been a postseason weapon throughout his four-year career in Kansas City; he has 22 catches for 226 yards and 11 carries for 110 yards over 10 playoff games.