Posted on: November 18, 2022, 08:40h.
Last updated on: November 18, 2022, 08:42h.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has been dealing with a stomach injury, and the Chiefs sent him on the IR to recover. With Hardman out for at least the next four games, recently-acquired wide receiver Kadarius Toney has a chance to make his mark.
Hardman, in his fourth year in Kansas City, never missed a game with the Chiefs until Week 10 when he was a late scratch against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The Chiefs are the top team in the AFC this season with a 7-2 record. They are +500 odds to win Super Bowl LVII as the second favorite on the futures board at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. Only the Buffalo Bills have better odds at +400, even though the Bills (6-3) lost two games in a row and Josh Allen is nursing an elbow injury.
The Chiefs visit the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11 on Sunday. Chargers are a +5 home dog in this AFC West divisional matchup against the short-handed Chiefs.
Hardman caught 25 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns this season. He averaged 11.9 yards per catch. Head coach Andy Reid found different ways to take advantage of Hardman’s speed, and Hardman added two rushing touchdowns. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes loves throwing to tight end Travis Kelce, who leads the Chiefs in receptions, targets, yards, and touchdowns. Hardman is ranked fourth on the team in receptions trailing Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Marques Valdes-Scantling. However, Hardman is second on the team in touchdown receptions.
Hardman caught fire over the last three games scoring five touchdowns. He notched at least one touchdown reception in the last three games. In a 44-23 blowout against the San Francisco 49ers, Hardman found the endzone three times with two rushing scores and another touchdown catch.
The Chiefs selected Hardman out of Georgia with a late second-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft. Scouts liked Hardman for his blistering speed.
Hardman had a slow start during his rookie season, but finished strong in his first year in the league with 26 receptions for 528 yards and career-high six touchdowns. Although it was not easy to get targets from Mahomes with Tyreek Hill and Kelce on the roster, Hardman worked his way up the depth chart. He didn’t catch a lot of passes, but made the most of his usage rate with an impressive 20.7 yards per catch.
In 57 games, Hardman tallied 151 catches for 2,088 yards and 16 touchdowns. He only fumbled twice during his four seasons.
🙌 TIE GAME 🙌
Patrick Mahomes finds Mecole Hardman for the TDpic.twitter.com/9C1U5lGmMi
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 16, 2022
Kadarius Toney Time
The Chiefs added Toney shortly before the trade deadline when the New York Giants gave up the wide receiver for a 2023 third-round comp pick and a 2023 sixth-rounder.
The Giants selected Florida’s Toney with the #20 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he never truly meshed with the team. Toney missed seven games during his rookie season due to an ankle injury. He appeared in just two games with the Giants this season with multiple hamstring injuries.
Toney looks like a bust on paper, but the Chiefs were willing to take a flier on him after the Giants made him available for a trade.
I don’t know how Kadarius got out of that building,” said Kelce. “I just don’t get it. Don’t even want to know what happened over there. I am just extremely happy that our GM Brett Veach found a way yet again to get an unbelievably talented player in this building.”
Toney joined the Chiefs at the right time just before two key injuries to wide outs. Smith-Schuster got his bell rung hard in against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10. He’s still in concussion protocol and did not practice this week.
With Hardman out with the stomach injury, Toney has an opportunity to fill in the void. In two games with his new squad, he caught six passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re at the time of the year where injuries happen,” said offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. “I told K.T. that you may be called upon throughout the course of a game to define your greatness.”
Reid also handed over kick return duties to Toney after he demoted rookie Skyy Moore due to multiple fumbles.