Defensive back Morris Claiborne returned to the practice field with the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday after serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
He wasn’t alone.
The Chiefs also welcomed back wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has been sidelined since Week 1 with a collarbone injury, and running back Damien Williams, who has been nursing an ankle injury.
It’s unclear how much they’ll play when the Colts visit Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
Claiborne, a former sixth overall pick of the Dallas Cowboys, missed most of training camp before the Chiefs signed him to what amounted to a prove-it contract. He played part of the preseason, but he was barred from practice and games until earlier this week
“It’s going to be fun. I think he has a lot to bring to this team,” Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland said. “We’re all excited to get him out there with us.”
The Chiefs have been better against the pass this season under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but they still rank 20th in the league against the pass. Claiborne should provide veteran help right away and could push for a starting job as the season progresses.
He’s coming off the best two-year stretch of his career with the New York Jets.
“We’ll see how he does out here,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who was unwilling Wednesday to make any changes to his lineup. “We’ll get him back in and see how he rolls.”
Reid is also taking a wait-and-see approach to his offensive playmakers.
Hill was hurt in the opener in Jacksonville when his shoulder was driven into the ground on a play along the sideline. He wound up spending the night in the hospital, where his collarbone was stabilized without surgery.
The two-time All-Pro was seen catching passes from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during warmups last week in Detroit, the first sign that Hill could soon be back on the field.
“He’s hard to hold down. He’s wired different,” Reid said. “He’s bouncing around and wants to go, but this one here, the doctors really have to keep checking on him. We’ll see how the time goes.”
Williams has struggled with an ankle injury most of the season, continuing a career-long trend of nagging injuries. In the meantime, LeSean McCoy has taken over the No. 1 job in the Kansas City backfield, and Darrel Williams has proven a capable backup.
McCoy ran for 56 yards and a score against the Lions. Darrel Williams had two TD runs.
“We’re just going to see how they do out here,” Reid said.
Regardless of whether they play this week, having Claiborne join Hill and Williams on the practice field Wednesday was an encouraging sign. The Chiefs are off to a 4-0 start without some of their key players.
Only two were left sidelined at practice this week. Left tackle Eric Fisher is recovering after surgery to repair a groin injury, and linebacker and special teams standout Dorian O’Daniel is sidelined by a hamstring injury.