The Kansas City Chiefs Gain Added Dimension Through Jody Fortson’s Return From Injury

Fortson joined the Chiefs as an undrafted receiver from Valdosta State in 2019 and spent two years on the practice squad. He earned a spot on the team’s 53-man roster last summer and emerged as one of the top secondary options inside the red zone for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, catching all five of his targets for 47 yards and scoring two touchdowns within the first six weeks.

His debut campaign would end as quickly as it had taken off, however, with the 26-year-old suffering a non-contact injury during a game against the Washington Football Team, the one every athlete dreads. Having heard his left Achilles pop, he tried to plant his feet so he could fly off to begin his route but could only drop to the ground in agony.

As it turns out, Fortson made his return against the very team he was playing against when his season ended prematurely, and he made quite the impression, snagging a catch in the end zone for a five-yard TD. That was one of his two scores for the Chiefs.

The player has set high standards for himself given that, in his first game back, he showed he can be another viable option for Mahomes. He finished the contest with four receptions, a team-high (tied), for 19 yards, while showing the strength, speed, and agility that earned him a spot on the team’s roster after he went undrafted.

“I’m so glad that (my) support system – the team, the athletic trainers and the coaches – never really let me get too down on myself,” he said after the game, per The Athletic. “It just feels awesome to get back out here – especially in front of Arrowhead, in front of the best fans – and score.”

Fortson spent most of his time inside the team’s training facility after going under the knife, splitting time with the athletic training staff doing rehab and offensive meetings.

“He’s one of the hardest workers I know,” Travis Kelce said of Fortson, having been impressed with the youngster’s determination to get back on the field. “He’s relentless.”

Chiefs assistant athletic trainer Tiffany Morton played a crucial role in Fortson’s rehabilitation, helping him regain his full range of motion all while keeping his 244 LB playing weight.

“I owe a lot to God, but I owe a lot to her because she didn’t really let me give up,” Fortson noted. “(There were) some days where I was like, ‘Tiff, I don’t want to do this.’ But she stayed on me and made sure I fought through. I kept my faith high. I just attacked every day as if I was going to play on Sunday.”

It appears Fortson will be playing on plenty of Sundays considering his showing in pre-season. And, with the Chiefs among the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl next year at 10/1, he could receive a reward at the soonest possible time. Fans can get bets from FanDuel Kansas to that end as the portal is due to launch on September 1.

Jimmy Heim was also impressed by Fortson’s attempts to get back to playing shape following his surgery, as well as the time it actually took him to recover. Heim, a physio and strength coach at Adapt Athlete in Atlanta who has been working with athletes for the past six years, did not expect the TE to be in as good a condition as he was when his offseason started in March.

The physio put Fortson through a number of exercises to strengthen the tendon and his calf muscles, plus a regimen of weight lifting and therapy before he was allowed to execute positional drills on the field.

“Jody was definitely one of the faster Achilles rehabs,” Heim said. “He came back extremely fast. He was just very consistent. He committed to the process early on, and he’s going to be rewarded for that commitment because he came out of it stronger, more durable and more resilient to handle game-speed forces.

“He was never in a bad mood, and he was someone who was really easy to work with,” Heim said of Fortson. “He knew what was at stake and why he needed to work so hard.

“You never want an injury to happen, but I think having that injury kind of gave him a new perspective and really forced him to look into the importance of what taking care of his body meant for his on-field success. I just think he’s going to have offseasons that build on top of each other moving forward.”

The Chiefs should be all the better for Fortson’s return. They should have a better idea of where his fortunes may lie when they take on the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

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