The Maui News - Weekender
Chiefs’ Mahomes ready for AFC title game against Bengals
Patrick Mahomes finished a full week of practice on his ailing right ankle Friday, and Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid pronounced his AllPro quarterback ready to go for the AFC championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mahomes sustained a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of last week’s divisional-round win over Jacksonville, returning after halftime to polish off the victory. That sent the Chiefs to their fifth consecutive AFC championship game, where they will face the AFC North champions on Sunday night in a rematch of last year’s overtime loss to the Bengals.
“He looks good,” Reid said. “I mean, he’s moving around good. He’s going to go out and play.”
Mahomes has had perhaps his best season, throwing for a career-high 5,250 yards with a league-leading 41 touchdown passes, and garnered 49 of 50 first-place votes in All-Pro voting. He is also among five finalists for league MVP.
“I feel like I can still do a lot of things,” he said this week. “We’ll see as we get closer and closer, and we’ll see during the game.”
Mahomes vowed to play
from the moment the Chiefs beat the Jaguars last Saturday night, striding to the podium just outside the Kansas City locker room and proclaiming his ankle felt better than expected. Mahomes began treatment that night, and a precautionary MRI exam taken the following day showed no structural damage.
His right ankle wasn’t taped any more than the left when Mahomes headed onto the indoor practice field Wednesday and Thursday. He was bouncing around as if nothing was amiss Friday for a final outdoor workout.
RAMS: The Los Angeles Rams hired former New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur on Friday to join Sean McVay’s quest to fix one of the least productive offenses in the league.
LaFleur spent the past two years with the Jets in his first stint as an NFL offensive coordinator, but New York struggled statistically in both years while missing the playoffs twice. He parted ways with the Jets (7-10) three days after the regular season ended.
LaFleur will follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Matt, by becoming Los Angeles’ offensive coordinator under coach Sean McVay, who has called the Rams’ plays and been in near-complete control of the offense throughout his six-year tenure.
McVay has publicly battled burnout exacerbated by a selfdescribed inability to delegate during his Rams tenure, but he hasn’t said whether he plans to give more responsibility to LaFleur or his other assistants as he enters his seventh season in charge.
The Rams (5-12) wrapped up the worst season in NFL history by a defending Super Bowl champion this month. McVay’s offense has been one of the NFL’s best and most influential during his tenure, but Los Angeles finished last in the league in total yards and 27th in scoring after losing several significant players to injury.
FALCONS: The Atlanta Falcons found their new defensive coordinator from an NFC South rival’s coaching staff on Friday by hiring Ryan Nielsen, the former New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator.
Nielsen replaces Dean Pees, 73, who retired on Jan. 9 following two seasons in charge of the defense on coach Arthur Smith’s staff.
The Saints have recorded 282 sacks since Nielsen joined the staff in 2017, the second-most in the league during that span. New Orleans finished in the top 10 in sacks in five of the six seasons. The Saints finished in the top four in rushing defense in four of the last five years.