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Chiefs' Mahomes to practice as usual

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes speaks with fans after last Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Kansas City, Mo.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes walked through Arrowhead Stadium as if nothing was amiss Wednesday, his sprained right ankle hardly hampering the All-Pro quarterback as he began preparing for the AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mahomes went through a normal morning walkthrough and then headed out for an afternoon practice with the rest of the Chiefs, four days after a Jacksonville pass rusher landed on his ankle and forced him to hobble off the field in pain.

“AFC championship week," Mahomes said with a smile. “I'm ready to go.”

Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter of the Chiefs' 27-20 win over the Jaguars on Saturday. X-rays during the game came back negative, and Mahomes returned in the second half to lead the Chiefs to a spot in their fifth straight conference title game — and a Sunday night rematch with the Bengals, who beat them for a spot in last year's Super Bowl.

Mahomes began getting treatment after the game, and an MRI on Sunday showed no structural damage.

“The last few days has been an all-day thing,” Mahomes said, “where you're doing treatment and rehab and watching film. You're trying to make sure you're prepared for the Bengals, a great football team, mentally and physically.”

Mahomes jogged around without any apparent limp Wednesday in the brief portion of practice open to local reporters.

He said the injury is similar to one he played through early in the 2019 season, when Mahomes came back the following week to throw four touchdown passes in a win over the Raiders. The only difference is it’s the opposite ankle.

It’s also not as bad as a toe injury that Mahomes had earlier in his career.

“He had a couple injuries in college he fought through,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “In the NFL, with all the games you play, very seldom do you get to this point without having something. That’s just how it goes.”

Omenihu available for 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco defensive lineman Charles Omenihu will be available to play in the NFC title game despite his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic violence allegation.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday that the team will wait for the legal process to resolve after Omenihu was accused of pushing his girlfriend to the ground during an argument on Monday.

“If he’s healthy, he’ll play this week,” Shanahan said. “We’ve looked into it the last 48 hours, not necessarily myself but other people. We feel very good that the legal process will take care of itself. We don’t feel we should kick him off our team at this time.”

The NFL will review the matter under the league's personal conduct policy, but Omenihu is available until that is completed.

San Jose police said they were called to Omenihu’s home on Monday afternoon to investigate a domestic violence incident.

According to the police report, a woman who said she was Omenihu’s girlfriend said he pushed her to the ground during an argument.

Officers did not observe any visible physical injuries, but the woman did complain of pain in her arm. She declined medical attention.

Salute to Service finalists announced

NEW YORK — Cincinnati tight end Hayden Hurst, San Francisco tight end George Kittle and Washington head coach Ron Rivera are the three finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service Award.

The league on Wednesday announced the finalists for the 12th annual award. It's designated for exceptional effort to honor and support members of the military community. The winner will be announced at the NFL Honors ceremony on Feb. 9 in Phoenix along with the rest of the on-field performance awards.

Award sponsor USAA will contribute $25,000 in the recipient’s honor to the official aid societies representing each of the military branches, and the NFL will donate $25,000 to the recipient’s military charity of choice. Finalists were determined by a consensus vote of fans, an NFL internal committee and USAA.

BRIEFLY

RAIDERS: A judge on Wednesday delayed a long-awaited hearing in a criminal case against former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs. Police say Ruggs was under the influence in November 2021 when his Corvette slammed into Tina Tintor's SUV, killing her and her dog, Max. A hearing for prosecutors to present evidence is on hold while a state judge decides if Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman can keep presiding over the case even after another judge took over all DUI cases in the city. A decision about Zimmerman's role in the case will likely come in late March. 

VIKINGS: Minnesota interviewed internal candidate Mike Pettine for their defensive coordinator vacancy. Pettine served as assistant head coach this season under rookie coach Kevin O’Connell. The 56-year-old Pettine has 19 seasons of experience as an NFL coach. He's had three stints as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets, Buffalo and Green Bay. Pettine was also the head coach for Cleveland for two years.


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Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made his first public appearance Sunday since going into cardiac arrest three weeks ago during a game. He waved to fans from a suite at the Bills' Highmark Stadium during the first half of their AFC divisional playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The stadium erupted when an image of the recovering Hamlin filled the massive end zone screens and fans turned toward the glass-enclosed suite and cheered. The 24-year-old safety had not been seen in public since he needed to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2, but he has been making regular visits to the stadium to see teammates.

Two years in a row the Dallas Cowboys have flubbed their last-ditch drives against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. Last year, Dak Prescott ran too far on a quarterback draw and handed the ball to his center instead of the umpire. Time expired before he could get off one more play for a Hail Mary. This time, it was those around him who made the mistakes. 

Patrick Mahomes has a very sore right ankle. Jalen Hurts has a bum right shoulder. Even so, neither quarterback is complaining in the lead up to Sunday’s NFL conference championship games. Mahomes went through a normal morning walkthrough Wednesday and then headed out for an afternoon practice, four days after a Jacksonville pass rusher landed on his ankle and forced him to hobble off the field in pain. The Chiefs host the Bengals in the AFC Championship on Sunday. Hurts said Wednesday that his shoulder is still sore, though he didn’t seem concerned. The Eagles will host the 49ers in the NFC Championship, also on Sunday. The winners of the conference title games will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

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