Jason Kelce: I don’t think Super Bowl result will impact retirement decision

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
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Eagles center Jason Kelce has thought about retirement the last couple of offseasons before deciding to continue his playing career.

Winning a Super Bowl would make for a pretty good final act on the field and Kelce was asked on Friday if he’d be likelier to walk away if he picks up his second Super Bowl ring. Kelce said he doesn’t expect the result of the game to impact his decision.

“From everything I’ve been told about when you know it’s time to retire or not, you just know when you know, and it’s going to be when you don’t want to play football anymore,” Kelce said, via Reuben Frank of NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. “And I don’t think that winning this game is going to determine whether I want to continue to play football or not.”

Kelce said he will contemplate his future once again this offseason, but is “just going to appreciate the next week and a half with the guys in this room and all the coaches and hopefully put together another special game to end the season.”

Kadarius Toney, L’Jarius Sneed, JuJu Smith-Schuster are not expected to practice Friday

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The Chiefs listed four players as out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday and they expect to do the same on Friday as well.

Wide receivers Kadarius Toney (ankle, hamstring), JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), and Mecole Hardman (pelvis) all left the AFC Championship Game early and they’ve all remained out of practice this week. Cornerback L'Jarius Sneed suffered a concussion in the game and he has not cleared the concussion protocol yet.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said that the team expects to have Toney and Smith-Schuster back for the Super Bowl, but Hardman is considered doubtful. The AFC Championship Game was his first appearance for the Chiefs since Week Nine.

Sneed has progressed to the point where he can do conditioning work and still has over a week to hit the other milestones needed to get the green light to face the Eagles.

Fletcher Cox: When your QB is like Jalen Hurts, you want to play harder for him

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
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Longtime Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has seen his share of quarterbacks come through the building since the organization selected him at No. 12 overall in 2012.

That’s part of why he has a real appreciation for what Jalen Hurts brings to the position.

Cox was asked about Hurts’ leadership in his Friday press conference.

“His approach, No. 1 — the way he approaches things, the way he approaches the team when he’s speaking,” Cox said. “He’s always the same Jalen every time you see him. He doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. And you can’t help but respect a guy like that.

“Even when times, things aren’t going our way or his way, you never see him really frustrated. You never see him screaming at a teammate for maybe messing something up or it didn’t go the way that he wanted it to go. When your quarterback is like that, you definitely want to go out and play harder for him.”

The Eagles were 14-1 in games Hurts started in the regular season this year, with the QB completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 760 yards with 13 TDs.

With Hurts at the helm, Philadelphia has emerged as a team that could be a consistent contender for years to come.

Patrick Mahomes: It’s not about being the face of the league, it’s doing what you can to win

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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Since Patrick Mahomes became Kansas City’s starting quarterback in 2018, the worst the team has finished has been a loss in the AFC Championship Game.

Mahomes was the 2018 AP MVP and appears headed for his second, which will be handed out at NFL Honors next week. And he was the MVP of Super Bowl LIV, helping the Chiefs win their first title in 50 years.

So as Tom Brady retires, there’s an argument to be made that Mahomes is now the face of the league — that is, if he wasn’t already. The quarterback was asked about that in his Thursday press conference, specifically if he feels any added responsibility.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s not any extra responsibility. I’m just trying to go out there and win football games and win championships and this is the biggest game of them all,” Mahomes said. “It’s not about being the face of the league or anything like that, it’s about being the best team that you can possibly be and doing whatever you can to win football games. The other stuff kind of handles itself and it’s obviously a good part of it.

“If you’re winning Super Bowls, usually you get a little more media and few more commercials, I guess you would say, but at the end of the day, I just want to get in this building, be with my teammates and go out there and win football games.”

If Mahomes adds another championship to his resume next week, his case for being the face of the league will only get stronger.

Jalen Hurts on his best play of the season: “Season’s not over”

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
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Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts hinted that he’s expecting his best moment of the year to come at Super Bowl LVII.

Asked to name his best play of the season, Hurts said he won’t be able to say that until after the Super Bowl.

“My best play of the season? Season’s not over,” Hurts said.

Hurts is looking forward to the matchup with the Chiefs on Super Bowl Sunday.

“We have a heck of an opportunity in front of us, and we’ve worked really hard to be where we are now,” Hurts said. “To have the opportunity is something that you earn, so we’re going to work really hard to take advantage of it.”

Hurts, who was the favorite to win league MVP before a late-season shoulder injury, has had a lot of big plays this season. He may be saving his best for last.

Patrick Mahomes on his ankle: I feel like I’m in a good spot

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals, 2023 AFC Championship
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After he played through his high-ankle sprain in last week’s AFC Championship Game, there’s no doubt quarterback Patrick Mahomes will play through it again for Super Bowl LVII.

But the injury is likely to affect him in some way.

Like last week, Mahomes was listed as a full participant on Wednesday’s injury report. He said in his Thursday press conference that he came out of last week’s game just fine.

“I just was generally sore,” Mahomes said. “It was a physical game. I mean, my whole body was a little sore. I don’t think I had any step backwards or anything like that, no re-aggravation of the ankle. Just the general, little bit of pain I had playing.

“But other than that, I feel like I’m in a good spot.”

Mahomes finished last week’s game 29-of-43 passing for 326 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a lost fumble. He ran only three times for 8 yards, one of which was the 5-yard run at the end of the game.

Frank Clark: The Bengals deserved to talk trash, but they’ve got to watch us play now

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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The Bengals collectively talked plenty of trash before taking on the Chiefs in last week’s AFC Championship Game.

Based on their postgame reactions, Kansas City’s players were absolutely aware of it all.

Defensive end Frank Clark in particular had some strong comments immediately after his team beat Cincinnati 23-20. Clark was asked on Thursday if he thought all of the Bengals trash talk made him or his teammates play better.

“I feel like, to a certain extent, certain players did, probably. You know me, man, I kind of play the same type of way usually around this time,” Clark said in his press conference. “It’s like one of those things, you’ve just gotta know who you’re playing with. You’ve got a team that’s speaking on certain things, and they’re speaking on running the AFC or different things like that to that extent, it’s just one of those classic examples [of], you talk your trash after the game. You know what I mean? That’s kind of what we did. Kind of let them have it.

“They deserved it, though. When you beat a team three times in a row, you do it decisively, you take the game away after we were up three scores in the first half, whatever you want to call it — you have the right to say those different things. And it’s a game at the end of the day, you want to have fun with it. … It’s slowly become one of our rivals in the season. And fortunately, that’s not the team we’re talking about no more. They’ve got a whole ‘nother year to wait. They’ve got to watch us play some football now, man. So, it’s about the Chiefs and the Eagles right about now.”

As the saying goes, to the victors go the spoils. We’ll see when the Bengals and Chiefs meet during next year’s regular season how much trash each side talks before and after the matchup.

Jalen Hurts: Shoulder “getting there,” it’s something I’m dealing with

Philadelphia Eagles vs San Francisco 49ers, 2023 NFC Championship
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Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is past the point where his right shoulder injury is significant enough to keep him from playing, but he’s not quite back to full strength.

Hurts was asked about the condition of his shoulder at a Thursday press conference and he acknowledged that he’s still working through it as the team prepares for their Super Bowl date with the Eagles.

“I’m getting there. I’ve made it clear this whole time it’s something I’m dealing with,” Hurts said, via Elliot Shorr-Parks of WIP.

Hurts has not appeared on the injury report the last few weeks and it’s hard to imagine that changing unless something goes seriously wrong in the coming days. The offseason may bring more of an idea about the full extent of Hurts’ injury, but nothing is likely to get in the way of his availability in Arizona.

Patrick Mahomes: It’s special to have two Black starting QBs in the Super Bowl

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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For the first time, the Super Bowl will feature two Black starting quarterbacks in Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes.

In a year that’s not far removed from a Hall of Fame executive saying a Black QB should switch to receiver upon entering the league, it’s significant that Hurts and Mahomes will each pilot their teams for the Eagles and Chiefs.

Mahomes was asked about his matchup with Hurts on Thursday.

“To be on the world stage and have two Black quarterbacks starting in the Super Bowl, I think it’s special,” Mahomes said in his press conference. “I’ve learned more and more about the history of the Black quarterback since I’ve been in this league and the guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this. And now, I’m just glad that we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now.

“It’ll be a great game [between] two great teams and against another great quarterback. So I’m excited to go out there and try to do what we can to win against a great team.”

Mahomes noted he sees this game as an opportunity to further progress for Black quarterbacks in the future.

“I think you’ve seen over time, whenever a guy like Doug Williams, or Michael Vick, or Donovan McNabb go out and play great football, it gives other guys like me and Jalen chances to have this platform and to have this spot on an NFL team,” Mahomes said. “And so, if we can continue to show that we can consistently be great, I think it’ll just continue to open doors for other kids growing up to follow their dreams and to be a quarterback of an NFL team. And it’s good that we have guys like Jalen on the other side because he’s a great person and obviously a great quarterback.”

There have been only three Black quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl: Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Doug Williams. Hurts would be the fourth if the Eagles win. Mahomes would be the first to win two Super Bowls if the Chiefs win.

Mecole Hardman won’t practice, doubtful for Super Bowl

NFL: JAN 29 AFC Championship - Bengals at Chiefs
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The Chiefs will be without three wide receivers for Thursday’s practice and head coach Andy Reid cast serious doubt on getting one of them back for Super Bowl LVII against the Eagles.

Mecole Hardman returned to action in the AFC Championship Game after an extended layoff due to a pelvis injury, but was forced out of the win over the Bengals after aggravating it. He was listed as out on Wednesday’s estimated practice report and Reid said Thursday that he is not expecting Hardman back in Arizona.

“I doubt that he’ll make the Super Bowl. He was not going to be denied the other day. That’s a tribute to the kid. He push himself like no other. He’s a tough, tough kid,” Reid said, via Nate Taylor of TheAthletic.com.

Things look better for the team’s other injured wideouts. Kadarius Toney (ankle) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee)won’t practice, but Toney did take part in the walkthrough and Reid said he’s optimistic about Smith-Schuster being well enough to go on February 12.

Cornerback L'Jarius Sneed remains in the concussion protocol and will not practice Thursday.

Eagles will wear green jerseys, Chiefs will wear white in Super Bowl LVII

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
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The Eagles are the designated home team for Super Bowl LVII in Arizona and that gives them the choice of what jerseys they want to wear for the game.

In pictures posted to their website this week, the Eagles showed that they will be wearing their green jerseys for the game. That will put the Chiefs in white on February 12.

It’s the same color the Eagles wore when they beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. They also wore green in both of their Super Bowl losses.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes wore red in his first two Super Bowl appearances. The Chiefs went 1-1 in those games and they also wore red for their win in Super Bowl IV. Their only previous Super Bowl appearance in white came in the very first Super Bowl and the Chiefs lost to the Packers in those duds.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney would not have practiced on Wednesday

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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Though Super Bowl LVII won’t be played until next Sunday, both the Chiefs and Eagles will issue injury reports throughout this week.

Kansas City did not practice on Wednesday, but its first estimated report illustrates a banged-up offense.

Receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), Kadarius Toney (ankle/hamstring), and Mecole Hardman (pelvis) all would not have practiced. All three players weren’t able to finish the AFC Championship game.

Hardman has been dealing with his pelvis injury for a while. He played for the first time since Week Nine in the AFC Championship Game, but was on the field for just 15 offensive snaps.

Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (concussion) also would not have practiced.

Linebacker Willie Gay (shoulder) and offensive guard Trey Smith (ankle) would have been limited in practice. That Gay would have been limited is good news after a report indicated he was optimistic about playing next week.

Patrick Mahomes is still dealing with his high ankle sprain but he would have been a full participant. He was listed as full all last week, too.

Running back Isiah Pacheco (wrist), running back Jerick McKinnon (ankles), and receiver Justin Watson (illness) all would have been full participants.

Nick Sirianni: When you start treating these games differently, that’s when mistakes happen

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles
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The Eagles will be back in the Super Bowl next week, but it’ll be their first time playing in the game under head coach Nick Sirianni.

With a game of this magnitude, Sirianni knows there will be extra attention and some things will have to change. But the second-year head coach wants to make things as normal as possible for his team over the next two weeks.

“This is the biggest game in football. It’s the Super Bowl. The biggest game anybody will ever play in football,” Sirianni said in his Tuesday press conference, via John Clark of NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. “But when you start treating these games differently, that’s when mistakes happen. It’s about us being able to play with each other one more time.”

Philadelphia has been one of the best teams in football all season long, as one of just two teams to reach 14 regular-season wins. The other, of course, was the Chiefs.

But if the Eagles play as they have all year, they should have a solid chance to come home from Arizona with a Lombardi Trophy.

Chiefs’ rookie class has made a huge impact

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs
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When the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill last offseason, many wondered whether they could maintain a Super Bowl-caliber offense. As it turned out, the Hill trade was a big part of building their Super Bowl-caliber defense.

The Chiefs picked up additional first-, second- and fourth-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft in the Hill trade, and those picks contributed to an outstanding rookie class that has made a huge impact for the Chiefs this year. (The Chiefs will also have additional fourth- and sixth-round picks in this year’s draft from the Hill trade.)

Veteran Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed was knocked out of the AFC Championship Game on the fourth play, and for the rest of the game, the Chiefs had three cornerbacks, all rookies: first-round pick Trent McDuffie, fourth-round pick Joshua Williams and seventh-round pick Jaylen Watson. They also had a rookie safety, second-round pick Bryan Cook, logging significant playing time. With all those rookies playing against a Bengals offense led by Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, the Chiefs’ secondary could’ve been boat-raced out of the stadium. Instead, they played very well.

“It’s crazy how those things work, but the kids stepped up,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. “They didn’t lose their confidence. I was optimistic, but you don’t know how the journey is going to go. Here we sit and they did a good job.”

It wasn’t just the rookies in the secondary stepping up. Rookie defensive end George Karlaftis had a sack. Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco was the Chiefs’ leading rusher and third-leading receiver. Rookie receiver Skyy Moore had three catches in the AFC Championship Game, while rookie linebacker Leo Chenal led the team with 22 special teams snaps.

When you trade a player like Hill for draft picks, you need to hit on your picks. The Chiefs did, and that’s a big reason they’re in the Super Bowl.

Report: Landon Dickerson is expected to play in Super Bowl after hurting elbow

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
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One of the few things to go wrong for the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game involved left guard Landon Dickerson‘s elbow, but it doesn’t look like it will be an issue for the team at Super Bowl LVII.

Dickerson injured his right elbow in the second half of the 31-7 win, but Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that an MRI showed that Dickerson only suffered a hyperextension. He is expected to play in the Super Bowl despite the injury.

McLane adds that Dickerson is likely to wear a brace on the elbow during practice and the game.

Dickerson started every game for the Eagles this season and the 2021 second-round pick was voted into the Pro Bowl. The Super Bowl berth means that his first actual visit to the Pro Bowl will have to wait.