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Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu’s concussion is the biggest injury concern ahead of the AFC Championship Game.
As of Friday afternoon, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Mathieu remains in concussion protocol. However, OutKick’s Dr. Chao, aka ProFootballDoc, remains confident Mathieu will play on Sunday.
Only one full practice required (which @Mathieu_Era has now done twice) before being cleared. Sometimes it is a matter of the player's meeting schedule and independent neuro schedule to get final clearance. At https://t.co/LlUJEOni8A, we remain confident he plays. https://t.co/AMz8pqtKW7
— David J. Chao – ProFootballDoc (@ProFootballDoc) January 28, 2022
Mathieu cleared the first step on Thursday by practicing fully. So as Dr. Chao says, he now needs only an independent neurologist to give him final clearance.
Mathieu suffered a concussion during the first drive of the Chiefs’ Divisional Round matchup with the Bills. And the Chiefs felt his absence each time a Bills receiver got open — wide, wide open — late in the game.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo told reporters this week that for the game against the Bills, he had devised an entire game plan around Mathieu.
“It took us a little by surprise, obviously, when Tyrann (Mathieu) got hurt early,” Spagnuolo said. “We did have a package we were going to do something a little different. (We) had to throw the thing completely out that we had especially for Buffalo.
“So, that set us back a little bit, but then it’s like we’ve always said, ‘Somebody’s got to step up.’ And the guys did that.”
In addition to his play, Mathieu is also the defensive leader in Kansas City. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed spoke about Mathieu’s importance to the defense this week:
“Every snap. Every snap. Every snap, he warns me of what’s coming and what to expect and all of that. Every snap, he does it.”
The Chiefs have the weakest defense of all the teams remaining in the NFL playoffs, making Mathieu’s return crucial.
Kansas City is favored over Cincinnati by 7.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook.