KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For what it's worth, the Kansas City Chiefs are 1-9 over the years without Dwayne Bowe in their lineup. That includes last week's 26-10 loss to Tennessee, a game Bowe missed because of a one-game NFL suspension for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Bowe missed five games, four because of another NFL suspension, in 2009 and three games at the end of the 2012 season because of an injury. His absence hardly mattered in those years. The 2009 and 2012 Chiefs were lost causes, winning six games between them. He also missed the final game of last season because of a concussion.
The 2014 Chiefs aren't a lost cause, at least not yet, and the Chiefs will waste no time in getting Bowe back into their lineup for Sunday's game at Denver. If there's the tiniest bit of optimism the Chiefs can beat the Broncos for the first time in three seasons, it's being provided by the return of their most accomplished wide receiver.
"Dwayne has been a big part of the offenses here since he's been here and he was with us last year," coach Andy Reid said. "He's an important part of that. He's somebody the quarterback has a lot of trust in and a lot of reps with. He's got a high skill level. He's always got a pretty good chunk of our offense for every game.
"I'll tell you, he had a great training camp and preseason ... I liked what I saw there and he came back in great shape and I expect that he'll have a real good year."
Bowe's finger injury, revealed by Reid in training camp, has resolved itself. The quad injury that kept him from practicing before the suspension apparently has too, though the Chiefs listed him on Wednesday's injury report. He was a full practice participant, indicating he will be available to play on Sunday.
The biggest need for the struggling Chiefs offense is big plays and those aren't Bowe's specialty. But his presence could keep the Chiefs out of the many third and long situations they faced last week, when they went 1-of-12 on third-down plays.
"I don't think there's one area where we missed him the most," quarterback Alex Smith said. "There are a lot of different facets. Dwayne's the type of player that contributes everywhere, on all areas of the field and in all situations. But that was certainly part of it."
Bowe's replacement last week, Frankie Hammond Jr., had one catch for 22 yards. Bowe should be able to provide at least that. In 2009, he returned after his suspension to have two of his best games of the season.
He also bounced back after last season's one-game absence to have a big playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.