Chiefs’ Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman active vs. Bengals in AFC Championship Game

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs for a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during an NFL Divisional Round playoff game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

The Chiefs have their All-Pro tight end for Sunday evening’s AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Travis Kelce (back) is not among the seven players the Chiefs designated as inactive.

Kelce entered the weekend designated as questionable after he surprisingly showed up on Friday’s injury report with a back issue. Less than two hours before Sunday’s game, Kelce was on the field going through pregame warmups under the watchful eyes of the team’s athletic training staff.

The wide receiver position receives a boost with the return of Mecole Hardman, who makes his first game appearance since being activated from the reserve/injured list in late December. Sunday will mark Hardman’s first game action since Week 9.

With Hardman up, wide Justin Watson (illness) is inactive after entering the weekend as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

The Chiefs enter the game with Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, rookie Skyy Moore and Marcus Kemp, who was elevated Saturday from the practice squad, at the wide receiver position group.

The Chiefs’ remaining inactives are quarterback Shane Buechele, defensive lineman Malik Herring, rookie offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and tight end Blake Bell.

With Bell down, the Chiefs will rely on Jody Fortson alongside Kelce and Noah Gray. The Chiefs on Saturday activated Fortson from the reserve/injured list.

For the Bengals, guard Alex Cappa, tackle Jonah Williams, running back Chris Evans, defensive end Jeff Gunter, defensive tackle Jay Tufele, quarterback Jake Browning and cornerback Jalen Davis are inactive.