Jaguars Chiefs Football

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes a moment after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half their division round game on Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri. Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said Monday that Patrick Mahomes will play in the AFC title game against the Bengals, and that the high ankle sprain the All-Pro quarterback sustained against the Jaguars last weekend is less severe than the one he played through during the 2019 season opener.

“He’s going to play,” Reid told a group of local reporters. “That’s his mindset.”

Mahomes was hurt in the first quarter of Saturday’s win over Jacksonville when pass rusher Arden Key landed heavily on his right ankle. Mahomes finished the drive but was hobbling badly, and Reid and the training staff forced him to get an X-ray – it came back negative – and do some agility testing at halftime before allowing him back in the game.

In the meantime, backup Chad Henne led the Chiefs on a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown drive in the 27-20 victory.

Mahomes played well in the second half, but the Chiefs dramatically altered their offense to account for his reduced mobility.

Mahomes rarely went under center and threw almost exclusively from the pocket, rather than scrambling to buy time and make the many off-schedule throws that have made him so dynamic over the years.


He still threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns, including the eventual clincher with about 7 minutes to play.

Mahomes said afterward that his ankle felt better than expected and he vowed to play in the AFC title game – the fifth consecutive one hosted by Kansas City and a rematch of last year’s game won by Cincinnati in overtime.

“Pain is pain,” Mahomes said. “You’re going to have to deal with it.”

Reid said it was too early to tell how much Mahomes will practice this week. The Chiefs typically spend Monday reviewing film and getting treatment, then the players get Tuesday off, before their first full practice on Wednesday.

“When we get to that Wednesday practice we’ll see where we’re at,” Reid said. “I’ve got to see how he feels.”

Asked whether Mahomes could play without practice, Reid replied: “Who the heck knows?”


“He’s done some amazing things with limited time,” Reid added. “I think so. He’s never had to do it.”

Mahomes sustained a similar ankle injury in the 2019 opener against Jacksonville, and Reid said “I think this one isn’t quite as bad as that one.”

In that case, Mahomes played the following week in Oakland, going 30 of 44 for 443 yards and four TD passes without an interception in a 28-10 win over the Raiders.

Regardless of whether Mahomes practices, Henne is likely to get more repetitions than usual. And while the quarterbacks have vastly different styles, Reid doesn’t believe they will dramatically alter the Chiefs’ game plan.

“We try to keep open communication with the quarterbacks as best we can,” he said. “We’ve had Chad here a while now. We know the plays he likes and doesn’t like. We also know the plays that Pat likes and doesn’t like. We try to blend it and make sure that we have plays that work for both of them.”

PANTHERS: The Carolina Panthers interviewed Sean Payton for their coaching vacancy.


Panthers owner David Tepper has also interviewed Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, former Detroit Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and Steve Wilks, who was the team’s interim head coach this season, for the job.

The 59-year-old Payton is drawing plenty of interest from NFL teams with head coaching openings. including the Denver Broncos.

Payton did not coach this past season, but the New Orleans Saints still hold his rights. It’s unclear what type of draft pick compensation it would take from the Panthers to lure Payton from their division rivals.

Payton won the NFC South seven times with the Saints and the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, amassing a 152-89 record in the regular season and a 9-8 mark in the postseason.

GIANTS: Giants GM Joe Schoen said QB Daniel Jones is going to be with the team next season.

Schoen was asked if he believes Jones can help the Giants win a Super Bowl, and the GM seemingly let the truth slip.


“We’re happy Daniel’s gonna be here,” Schoen said. “We’re happy he’s gonna be here. Hopefully we can get something done with his representatives, and that would be the goal to build the team around him where he could lead us to win a Super Bowl.”

The GM holds a franchise tag (or transition tag) to retain Jones, 25, for one more season at minimum. And while the GM anticipates “time-consuming” negotiations with Jones’ agents, a possible multiyear contract extension clearly is in play.

“It takes two,” Schoen said. “Both sides gotta have those conversations. We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. There’s tools at our disposal. We’ll go through several scenarios.”

The Giants can put either the transition or franchise tag on Jones between Feb. 21 and March 7 if they don’t have a long-term contract done. The tag can function as a placeholder as they continue to negotiate an extension, as well.

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