Everyone was happy for Travis Kelce. How could you not be? The second year tight end with high hopes went down last year with a serious leg injury which required surgery. Some NFL players don't come back from microfracture surgery.
Kelce, staying around the facility last year while on IR, is on his way to proving himself an exception. Late in the first half of the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Kelce caught a pass down the seam and rocketed down the field and all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. 69 yards. A perfect moment for a guy who has worked hard to get back. Not to mention, as Fox Sports Sean Keeler pointed out, Kelce hit every button on his XBox to get that celebration dive into the end zone.
"I think everybody was extremely happy for Travis," Chiefs QB Alex Smith said after the game. "The guy's been through a lot. It's been a long time since he's seen some action, but everyone can verify, the guy never leaves the facility. This offseason, OTAs, training camp, he's been there rehabbing, putting in extensive hours trying to get healthy, and it was a good step to see him out there in preseason, especially to make a play like that and run away from those guys."
A great step for the Chiefs too who are hoping Kelce can be the dynamic receiving threat at tight end they were hoping for when they drafted him in the third round last year. The early returns on camp practices this offseason are good. The returns on the preseason are even better.
"If you go back and look at his route on that play, it was unbelievable," Chiefs QB Chase Daniel said.
Kelce lined up as a tight end on the 31-yard line with less than a minute left in the half. Daniel called for the snap and dropped back. Kelce caught the pass about 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs have run this play plenty of times during training camp.
"There was two minutes left so you knew the pass was coming," Kelce said after the game, "so it was a great play call. We got them in a situation where they had the mismatch on me, and I just kind of snuck right through the middle of the field."
"He was running away from safeties!" Daniel exclaimed to the media.
"That wasn't just a linebacker," Andy Reid said. "I was impressed with that.
Kelce acknowledged whatever else is knew. This is still just practice. The real games are a month away. But it's hard not to be excited about this first game back for the Chiefs 2013 third round pick.
Also important: Chase laughed at his whatever-that-was diving celebration at the end there.