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Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Options If Clyde Edwards-Helaire Misses Time

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered an ankle injury, and the Chiefs could use reinforcements in the backfield.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire

The ultimate goal of the preseason is to get out of it healthy, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire didn’t do that. The second-year running back suffered an ankle injury during Friday’s 17-10 victory, making it the second time in his young career that said ankle has been an issue. While head coach Andy Reid said that it doesn’t look like a high-ankle sprain, there is a chance the LSU product misses some time. With the rest of the depth chart leaving something to be desired, the Chiefs should at least look into the available options.

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Five Running Backs That Could Fill In for Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Adrian Peterson

Even at the ripe old age of 36, Adrian Peterson still has the skills to move the ball on the ground. While he is far from the MVP-caliber player of years past, the running back played adequately enough during his lone season with the Detroit Lions. While he never had much of a role in the passing game even during the peak of his career, he could fill in and take some early-down touches.

Todd Gurley

There is a reason that Todd Gurley is still a free agent. Despite finishing 2020 with respectable volume stats, it is very clear that Todd Gurley is simply not that good at football anymore. His PFF grade ranked 69th out of 70 running backs, and he clearly lost the speed and elusiveness that made him such a dangerous dual-threat with the Los Angeles Rams. Despite the clear lack of talent, he still has the physical ability to handle a few carries and follow his blocks. If Edwards-Helaire’s injury isn’t serious, then Gurley could be the ideal fit for a short-term backup role.

Duke Johnson

Gurley and Peterson are probably the best early-down runners left on the market, but Duke Johnson is probably the best receiving back available. Edwards-Helaire is at his best as a receiver, so Johnson might be the best one-for-one replacement on the open market. While he isn’t built to handle an every-down workload, he could be a fine checkdown option on passing downs. Considering Kansas City’s pass-heavy nature, Johnson might actually make the most sense of anybody on this list.

DeAndre Washington

At this point in the offseason, scheme familiarity might outweigh marginal gaps in talent. DeAndre Washington couldn’t do much of anything for Kansas City in 2020, appearing in just one game while recording three carries for five yards. He did, however, spend the first half of the season on the practice squad, meaning that he should have a pretty solid grasp on the playbook. If Kansas City just needs an emergency back on the roster that won’t need time to get up to speed, then Washington should be the man for the job.

Trade: Sony Michel

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is not believed to have a serious injury, and the four aforementioned names are the best choices if the running back is expected to be fully healthy early in the season. If, however, this ends up being a serious injury, then the Chiefs should look to New England for help. The Patriots are absolutely loaded at the running back position, with Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson, and J.J. Taylor all looking like NFL-caliber players. Harris, White, and Stevenson are locks for the roster, and New England probably wants Taylor to be the heir to James White’s throne.

With that in mind, it’s entirely possible that New England trades Sony Michel before the start of the season. Michel has something of a bad reputation around the league, but it’s worth noting he was actually one of the most efficient running backs in the league last year. Finally 100% healthy for the first time in his career, he should be able to comfortably lead a backfield. If Edwards-Helaire is gone for a while, sending over a fifth-round pick would make sense for both sides.

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