KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman experienced a setback in practice this week and will not play in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, leaving his status for the remainder of the season in question.
Hardman has not played since Week 9 because of an abdominal injury that landed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice two weeks ago, but has not been added to the active roster, and under NFL rules, players that are not added after 21 days must be placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
That means the Chiefs, who are 12-3 and tied with Buffalo for the best record in the AFC, have until Wednesday to decide whether Hardman will be able to help in their regular-season finale at Las Vegas and their playoff games.
“I'm not worried about it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Friday. “I think as long as he's progressing and trying to work to get better here, we'll be OK. If he can't, then he can't. Then we go move on and keep going with the guys we got.”
The Chiefs still boast the league's No. 1 offense and second-best scoring offense despite the absence of Hardman, whose speed makes him a downfield threat along with a dangerous weapon on jet sweeps. He had scored five touchdowns over the three games prior to his injury, three through the air and two on the ground.
Reid said the setback to Hardman occurred during Wednesday's workout.
"He just had some pain,” Reid said after final preparations for Sunday's game against Denver, “and it was almost like a tweak up in the groin area, and so we just backed him off. I don’t want to take steps back. I don’t want to do that.”
The Chiefs are otherwise healthy to take on the Broncos, whom they have beaten 14 straight times. Tight end Noah Gray (shoulder), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (Achilles), right tackle Andrew Wylie (hip) and fullback Michael Burton (groin) were full participants in Friday's practice. Offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho also was back after an illness.
The Chiefs have clinched the AFC West, but they're trying to keep up with the Bills — who have the head-to-head tiebreaker over them — for the No. 1 seed in the conference and lone postseason bye. Buffalo visits Cincinnati on Monday night.
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