Dexter McCluster: Why the Chiefs Need Him to Play on Sunday

Ryan DavenportContributor ISeptember 28, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 1: Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

At first glance, it looked like things could have been a lot worse for Dexter McCluster last Sunday.

Against the Saints in Week 3, McCluster sustained one of the more gruesome looking injuries in recent memory, as the Kansas City Chiefs receiver injured his elbow while attempting to brace himself after making a catch. 

As's Gregg Rosenthal put it, McCluster's "elbow bent backward unnaturally and he left the game."

Despite the initially apparent severity of the injury, according to Sports Illustrated's injury report, McCluster is still questionable for Kansas City's game against San Diego on Sunday.

Sunday's matchup against the Chargers is a critical one for the Chiefs, as Kansas City simply cannot afford to fall to 1-3 at this stage in the season. 

With Peyton Hillis unlikely for Sunday, and top receiver Dwayne Bowe hampered by a thigh injury, McCluster's injury could not have come at a worse time for the Chiefs.

If Bowe is ultimately unable to go against the Chargers, the Chiefs will need McCluster on the field, because otherwise Matt Cassel's top target will be Jon Baldwin, who has all of six catches through three games.

McCluster is no Dwayne Bowe, but the former first-rounder is the only other receiver on the roster who even comes close to averaging 50 yards a game.

Before injuring his elbow last week, McCluster was putting up some of the best numbers of his young career, as he averaged 10.9 yards per catch on 13 receptions.

Regardless of McCluster's status, the Chiefs will be at a serious disadvantage without Bowe on the field, but if his backup is ruled out as well, Kansas City will have a very difficult time generating much offense against the Chargers defense, which has been impressive thus far.

If he's able to play, McCluster could get a rare opportunity to be the Chiefs' No. 1 receiver, but whether that's a good thing for Kansas City, remains to be seen.