Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce spoke to the media on Thursday after catching eight passes for 119 yards in Sunday night’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders. It was Kelce’s highest yardage total of the season — and the first time he went over 100 yards since the Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Kelce suffered a neck injury during the Week 6 win against the Washington Football Team and has regularly appeared on the injury report since. He began by addressing his health.
“I’m working through all the discomfort, the soreness, throughout the season just like everyone else,” he claimed. “I wouldn’t think mine is more than anybody’s. I think that everybody at this point in the year needs to really lock in on their recovery and their week-to-week progression in terms of how they are feeling athletically out there on the field.
“I’ve just been fortunate that we have great trainers here, and it’s just been a work in progress.”
Kelce also refuted the narrative that his disappointing production — by his best tight end in the league standards — in the three weeks before the Raiders game stemmed from facing increased physical, press coverage.
“I’m pretty sure it’s been like this since 2015-16 when I first started to get on it,” he explained. “It’s probably more relevant now — just because I’m a more vital part of the offense and you’re seeing the camera on me a little bit more throughout. On top of that, the third-down stuff, the calls have been for me in some instances, and I haven’t been able to get open for Pat (Mahomes). You’ve got to just try and keep figuring things out. Keep working, have an idea for certain guys that you’re going up against, and that’s where we’re at right now.”
Following the dominant win in the midst of an inconsistent season, the national narrative this week has been that the Chiefs are “back.” Kelce discussed the return of the team’s “swagger.”
“I think it’s more so just having fun with a win than anything,” he replied. “I think when we do go out there and play with that type of energy, that type of mentality and just that confidence in everybody, not just in yourself, but in everybody on every single play no matter what’s called, I think that’s what we were really playing with.
“It just felt like that the entire practice week, to be honest. Everybody’s finally starting to really come around — at least in terms of the work ethic and how everybody’s dialed in in practice. I feel like we caught a groove last week, and we’re trying to just emulate that this week.”
After being largely contained the previous two weeks before breaking out against the Raiders, Kelce credited Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and other coaches for continuing to scheme ways to bring out his best.
“I think last week coach Reid — really the entire offensive staff coming up with the game plan — gave me an opportunity to not just be in one spot, to be in multiple spots on the field,” he noted. “Motions help me get off the ball a little easier — it doesn’t allow a guy to just sit on top of me. And then just flat out having an answer for when I do get pressed: being violent and just trying to work my techniques and my fundamentals.”
The Chiefs constantly put Kelce in motion before the snap on Sunday, even lining him up in the backfield as a fullback. The six-time Pro Bowl selection continued to praise his coaches and their creativity.
“I thanked them not too long ago for giving me that option to move around,” he recalled, “And always putting the defense in a reactionary position. Not letting them dictate what’s going on or take away a certain angle or certain route. And just giving me an opportunity to work my craft. I think it’s been so vital to my career, and I’m just fortunate that I’m here — letting coach Reid dial some things up for me.”