Chiefs activate TE Jody Fortson from IR for AFC title game

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The Kansas City Chiefs activated tight end Jody Fortson from injured reserve and elevated wide receivers Marcus Kemp and Ihmir Smith-Marsette from the practice squad for Sunday night’s AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The move to activate Fortson Saturday was widely expected after the big, wide red-zone threat showed no lingering issues with his elbow injury during practice this week. Fortson hasn’t played since Dec. 18 against the Houston Texans.

He filled a roster spot that was already available after the Chiefs waived cornerback Chris Lammons.

The decision to move up Kemp and Smith-Marsette gives the Chiefs some insurance at receiver. Justin Watson was questionable on the final injury report due to an illness, while speedster Mecole Hardman has been dealing with a pelvic injury that landed him on IR and kept him out of the lineup since Nov. 6 against the Tennessee Titans.

Asked if Hardman could play this week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said: “Listen, he’s worked his tail off. I think he feels better than he definitely did last week, so We’ll see how he does.”

The Chiefs did not activate Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who like Fortson has been designated to return from IR and has spent the last two weeks in practice. The running back hasn’t played since Nov. 20, and even then had given time to seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco, who will start his 13th straight game against Cincinnati.

Pacheco rushed 12 times for 95 yards in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over Jacksonville last week.

Kansas City is hosting the AFC title game for the fifth straight time, and it’s a rematch of last year’s championship game, when Patrick Mahomes and Co. they blew an early 21-3 lead in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Bengals.

Mahomes practiced fully this week after spraining his right ankle against the Jaguars. However, he did not carry an injury designation on Friday’s final report, and the Chiefs expect Mahomes to start as usual.

“I think I’ve gotten progressively better throughout the week, and I’m just going to try to keep doing that,” he said. “Keep the same mindset and push it, but at the same time be ready to go whenever the game comes.”

Associated Press report.

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