KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been almost an afterthought for the Kansas City Chiefs since losing his job as the regular featured back midway through last season to Isiah Pacheco.

There was little work available for him as Pacheco claimed the job in a way that Edwards-Helaire, a 2020 first-round pick, never did when he was the starter. But Edwards-Helaire could make his return to a central role in Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.

Pacheco didn't practice all week because of a shoulder injury, and the Chiefs listed him as out for the game on their final injury report of the week. That leaves a spot open for Edwards-Helaire.

"I know I'll be there to do my job and do what I need to do," Edwards-Helaire said. "As far as being on the field as a running back . . . whenever my number's called, I just go."

The Chiefs haven't been without Pacheco as their lead back since he took the job from Edwards-Helaire. In that sense, the Chiefs are heading into something of the unknown with Pacheco out of their lineup.

The Chiefs' other running backs on Sunday will be Jerick McKinnon and Deneric Prince. McKinnon, who will be available after missing the last two games with a groin injury, has played this season mostly on passing downs.

Prince is an undrafted rookie who coach Andy Reid said would be promoted from the practice squad for Sunday's game.

"Everybody in the room knows it's going to take a collective effort,'' McKinnon said.

That would mean more work for McKinnon, who has 19 catches but just 30 rushing yards. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said the Chiefs have limited his work in deference to his age, which at 31 is advanced for a running back.

"He's been in the league quite a while now, but he takes care of his body," Nagy said. "He does everything the right way. He had a very productive year last year in parts of the offense. And so that combined with some of what he's been through injury wise, you just want to be smart with him.

"We love where he's at and he's been phenomenal in that room as a leader and as a player."

The heaviest workload should fall to Edwards-Helaire. His only game this season with more than six carries came in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, when he played most of the second half with the Chiefs holding a big lead.

"He's going to be ready, no doubt," McKinnon said. "Everybody in that room is ready. When called upon, he knows what this moment means for him. So I'm 100%, 200% confident and he's going to go out there and do his thing. He's prepped for it. He's looked good and the opportunities he's had this year . . . he stayed focused and stays resilient and showing off. I expect nothing less on Sunday."

Edwards-Helaire has a per-carry average of 3.5 yards, almost a full yard less than Pacheco. He has rushed for 140 yards and has seven catches.

Having Edwards-Helaire in a backup role is not what the Chiefs had in mind when they drafted him. He missed significant parts of his first three seasons with injuries and then last year was benched in favor of Pacheco.

The Chiefs declined to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract, meaning he's likely in his last season in Kansas City. Depending on when Pacheco returns, this could be one of his last chances to return their investment in him as a draft pick.

"I think his speed looks good as far as his running between the tackles," Nagy said. "He's been really, really good. Even mentally when you go through a transition or you go through what he's been through the last couple of years, I think for him he's been a really good mentor and leader in the room.

"It starts there and then when you get on the field when given opportunities, he's trying to make the most of it. And that's what I respect the most about him. And in these situations, the running back position gets hit quite a bit. So if you have an injury or you have somebody next man up, you want to have a guy like Clyde that's ready."