HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs could be without three key players when they play the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl.
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney appeared to get into a dispute with Chiefs management about a hip injury that sidelined him for six games, going on Instagram to say he didn't receive the proper injury designation for the AFC championship game at Baltimore on Jan. 28.
But he told NFL Network on Monday that his expletive-filled rant was aimed at a New York Giants fan and not the Chiefs and called his outburst a mistake.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid didn't commit Tuesday to playing Toney, opening the way for a potential healthy scratch.
“We'll see how that goes,” Reid said. “He's been practicing, and we'll see whether he's up or not.”
Also, Reid wasn't optimistic running back Jerick McKinnon or guard Joe Thuney would play.
McKinnon has been on injured reserve since Dec. 24 with a groin injury and hasn't practiced.
“It's slim for him to be out there,” Reid said.
Thuney didn't play against the Ravens because of a pectoral injury.
“It's strength and making sure that he's in a position that he doesn't get hurt worse than what he's got,” Reid said. “We'll see (whether Thuney practices). I think it's a long shot.”
GOING ALL OUT
49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks called out his unit last week for not playing hard on every play of their 34-31 victory over the Detroit Lions in the NFC championship game.
Safety Tashaun Gipson agreed.
“That's something that never needs to be coached,” Gipson said. "That's something that never needs to be addressed. This is the National Football League. You're here on the biggest stage. Those plays are unacceptable. Led to two touchdowns.
“That film (session) was hard. Obviously, you had to see that. You had to hear some choice words. But that's not our brand of football. We're a lot better football team than that, so it's not something I'm worried about moving forward.”
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said lack of effort was an issue, but there were other problems the Niners had in trying to stop Detroit's running attack in the first half. The Lions rushed for 148 yards in the first 30 minutes, but only 34 after that.
“When you play an eight-man front, it just takes one guy to out of the gap for there to be only one (defender) left,” Shanahan said. “That's stuff we've got to do a lot better at.”
EXPANDING CHIEFS FAN BASE
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was at a function about a week ago when a woman in her mid-20s approached him. She explained that she was never a football fan, even though everyone else in her family was a Dallas Cowboys diehard, but that as a devoted Swiftie, she keenly followed pop superstar Taylor Swift's every move.
Naturally, that means she now keenly follows the Chiefs.
Ever since the 14-time Grammy-winning songstress began dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce last year, the franchise has seen a noticeable growth among fans in what Hunt called “that young female demographic.” They are driving up TV ratings for games, buying merchandise and apparel by the truckload, and throwing their lot into a team some of them knew nothing about.
“There's no doubt that her being a fan has put more intense focus on the team than we would have had otherwise, and has opened up the fanbase to a whole new demographic that we really didn't have,” Hunt told a small group of reporters on Tuesday.
“Having Taylor as a Chiefs fan is very unique,” Hunt added. “I don't ever do an interview without someone asking me about it. I frequently have dads come up to me and say, ‘My 10-to-12-year-old daughters never used to watch football, but now they tell me any time the Chiefs are playing to tell them, so they can come and watch.'”
All those Swifties will no doubt be watching the Super Bowl. Swift is expected to make a mad dash from Tokyo, where she will be performing on her Eras Tour the previous night, across the Pacific so that she can arrive in Las Vegas in time for kickoff.
MORE FEMALE STAR POWER
Iowa's Caitlin Clark, the reigning women's college basketball player of the year, continues to sell out arenas at home and on the road as she chases the NCAA Division I scoring record.
Her brother was the backup quarterback at rival Iowa State to 49ers second-year starter Brock Purdy. Blake Clark will be the best man in Purdy's upcoming wedding.
“Caitlin, I wasn’t around as much, but obviously just through Blake, we’d always watch her,” Purdy said. “What a baller she was from day one. Obviously, even high school. We knew that she was going to be a game changer. To see her now, just absolutely killing it, couldn’t be happier for her.”
Clark is 66 points from breaking the NCAA record of 3,527 held by former Washington star and current Las Vegas Aces All-Star Kelsey Plum.