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The Kansas City Chiefs prepare to host the Cleveland Browns and could be without one of their best defenders. As covered throughout the week, Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list last week due to a positive test.
Since then, there had been optimism that he would return relatively quickly and, initially, a feeling of certainty about his ability to play in Week 1 against the Browns.
Unfortunately for Kansas City and Mathieu, that optimism and feeling of certainty were incorrect. Instead, the star safety missed practice again on Friday and now faces a deadline of Saturday at 4 PM to be activated in time to play against Cleveland:
#Chiefs star safety Tyrann Mathieu is still on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and did not practice today. #Chiefs have until 4 pm EST tomorrow to activate him. Mathieu, who is vaccinated, would need to be symptom-free + have two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to return.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 10, 2021
There is a lot that goes into a player getting cleared from the COVID list and, it seems, it isn’t just up to the Chiefs:
The #Chiefs say Tyrann Mathieu’s status remains up in the air for Sunday against the #Browns, and that’s not a shock. Even for vaccinated individuals, return to play is a little more complicated than two negative tests. Deadline to activate him is 4 p.m. Saturday. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/Ndx9SeZriH
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 9, 2021
Without the “Honey Badger” roaming the defensive backfield, Kansas City could have a hard time stopping a potent offense. Mathieu has proven very good against both the run and pass during his career. The Browns mirrored run and pass games can make things difficult for younger players that would replace Mathieu if he is unable to play.
Even if he can play, how well could he play with zero practice time in over a week? A big game on Sunday but will Kansas City risk his health in Week 1 or, even if he is cleared, hold him out for the long season ahead?