Sammy Watkins is expect to miss time with a hamstring issue, so the Chiefs need Mecole Hardman to step up
The Kansas City Chiefs lost their first game of the season on Sunday to the Las Vegas Raiders, and they also had a notable injury in the game. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins suffered a hamstring injury, and on Monday ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported he will miss time and may miss the next two games.
Watkins caught a touchdown before exiting Sunday’s game, and in three of the previous four games he had at least seven targets. So there is an opportunity for someone to fill, and Mecole Hardman should be the guy.
Mecole Hardman has clear opportunity to step up
Hardman finished second among Chiefs wide receivers in snaps against the Raiders (50, of 72 total). He had just two catches on three targets, but they went for 50 yards. Demarcus Robinson saw more action in Watkins’ stead, but his two catches against the Raiders (on four targets) went for just two yards.
Hardman scored a touchdown in both Week 3 and Week 4, with eight catches on 10 targets over that span. He also played less than 30 snaps in each of those games, barely more in total (55) than his snap total from Week 5 alone.
Hardman averaged 20.7 yards per catch as a rookie in 2019, with six touchdowns on his 26 receptions. That fostered the notion of a second-year breakout with more opportunity for him this year, at least until the Chiefs restructured Watkins’ contract and kept him.
With Watkins out of the mix, for two games or maybe longer, Hardman now has his chance to step up. More snaps, more targets and favorable individual matchups, as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce garner the most attention from opposing defenses, lines the second-year out man out of Georgia up to seize a big chunk of Watkins’ role and never give it back.