Apparently subbing for Patrick Mahomes provides a potential shot of youthful exuberance.
With the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs already secured by Kansas City (14-1), the Chiefs will rest their MVP candidate Sunday when they play host to the Los Angeles Chargers (6-9).
Mahomes' backup, Chad Henne, is no stranger to the NFL. That didn't prevent Chiefs coach Andy Reid, however, from telling his backup quarterback to go be a kid again.
"I think he's excited," Reid said. "I told him, ‘Act like you're 20, man, and try to remember those days and feel it.' He's all in."
Henne, 35, will start for the first time since the first three games of the 2014 season with Jacksonville. He entered as a reserve in two blowouts this season, completing 5 of 6 passes while rushing for one touchdown after missing all of last season with a fractured ankle.
Not quite the numbers Mahomes has posted leading Kansas City to 10 straight wins as the NFL passing leader with 4,740 yards.
The Chiefs have already established a club-best win total and can set another franchise record with an 11th consecutive win in the same season.
Nonetheless, Reid embraced the opportunity to rest several regulars before the Chiefs observe a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
"It's crazy to think it's my first (start) since 2014," Henne said. "I got all my games in when I was young and then I had like a five- or six-year span where I didn't get much playing time. I'm excited and excited about the group we're going to have out there."
The lineup could lack some firepower the Chiefs typically deploy.
Tyreek Hill (hamstring), Le'Veon Bell (knee), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) and Sammy Watkins (calf) all missed practice Wednesday. Travis Kelce could be another weapon the Chiefs sit since he has already set the NFL season record for receiving yardage (1,416) by a tight end and the franchise record for catches (105).
The Chargers carry a three-game winning streak behind Justin Herbert, who engineered game-winning drives in each of the three wins. The No. 6 overall pick from Oregon owns an NFL rookie record with 28 touchdown passes.
Herbert's first start came in Week 2 against the Chiefs after a pain-killing injection punctured the lung of Tyrod Taylor. The Chargers, who started 2-7, took the Chiefs into overtime before falling 23-20 as Herbert passed for 311 yards and one touchdown.
"I think I'm a better teammate, son, friend because of all those tough times we had this year," Herbert said. "I know I learned a lot going forward, I know I'm going to be better prepared for 2021."
One question is whether he will be joined by fourth-year coach Anthony Lynn, who said he has not been given any indication on his future with Los Angeles.
"I am not concerned about that; I am concerned about Kansas City," Lynn said.
Defensive end Joey Bosa (concussion), wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (ankle) are questionable for the Chargers.
--Field Level Media
|L.A. Chargers||Kansas City|
|9/20/20||KC 23||LAC 20||479||183||296||414||125||289|
|L.A. Chargers||J. Herbert||66.7||311||1||1|
|Kansas City||P. Mahomes||57.4||302||2||0|
|L.A. Chargers||A. Ekeler||16||93||5.8||0|
|Kansas City||P. Mahomes||6||54||9.0||0|
|L.A. Chargers||K. Allen||7||96||13.7||0|
|Kansas City||T. Hill||5||99||19.8||1|
|L.A. Chargers||J. Guyton||1|
|Kansas City||T. Hill||1|
|L.A. Chargers||J. Herbert||66.3||4034||28||10|
|Kansas City||P. Mahomes||66.3||4740||38||6|
|L.A. Chargers||A. Ekeler||109||512||4.7||1|
|Kansas City||C. Edwards-Helaire||181||803||4.4||4|
|L.A. Chargers||K. Allen||100||992||9.9||8|
|Kansas City||T. Kelce||105||1416||13.5||11|
|L.A. Chargers||K. Allen||8|
|Kansas City||T. Hill||17|