For the first time since Super Bowl LIV, NFL players will take the field Thursday night to face someone other than their own teammates.
With preseason games canceled and training camps shortened amid the coronavirus pandemic, teams have slowly worked their way back into form for the season. But now, with the league having returned just five positive player tests for COVID-19 since Aug. 11, the NFL is prepared to make its full return.
The Kansas City Chiefs will kick things off by defending their first Super Bowl title in 50 years when they host the Houston Texans, whom they defeated 51-31 in the divisional round of last season's playoffs after rallying from down 24-0 in the first half. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson became the league's two highest-paid players with massive extensions this offseason, and the duo will be looking to add more signature performances to the burgeoning rivalry.
USA TODAY Sports will be covering the game from before kickoff through the final whistle and beyond. Reporter/columnist Mike Jones is on the scene in Kansas City, and NFL editor Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz will be adding additional notes and analysis as well. Check back often for all the latest.
A general view of the empty stadium prior to the game between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo: Jamie Squire, Getty Images)
It should quickly become clear how different this game will be from a typical outing. Arrowhead Stadium will only have approximately 14,000 fans on hand, NBC reported prior to the game.
Chiefs player to watch: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. After incumbent starter Damien Williams opted out of the season, the 5-7, 207-pound first-round pick is trending toward being the Chiefs' primary option out of the backfield, GM Brett Veach said. He might share carries with Darrel Williams tonight, but Edwards-Helaire should also figure prominently in the passing game, as he caught 55 passes last year for LSU.
Texans player to watch: WR Brandin Cooks. Sliding into the passing game along with Randall Cobb after DeAndre Hopkins was traded, Cooks is active despite being hampered by a quad injury. How effective can he be in helping Houston keep pace with Kansas City?
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