As the Kansas City Chiefs continued their preparations to face the Green Bay Packers on Week 13’s edition of “Sunday Night Football,” tight end Travis Kelce caught up with reporters, discussing everything from Green Bay’s historic Lambeau Field to how rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice can build upon his breakout performance against the Las Vegas Raiders.
We have rounded up his comments into five takeaways:
The Packers have a big advantage at Lambeau.
The Packers’ home is the league’s second-oldest stadium behind the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field. Kelce noted that the entire surrounding area is steeped in football lore.
“You feel it when you’re on that field,” he said. “And obviously, [for] the Packers, it’s a big-time homefield advantage for their fan base, because of how much they show up every single home game. So the times that I’ve played there, it’s been a crazy atmosphere — and I’m excited for this one.”
The Chiefs can’t shoot themselves in the foot.
During Sunday’s 31-17 victory in Las Vegas, Kansas City’s offense clicked for the first time in nearly a month — even during the second half.
“Penalties and turnovers have always kind of been what we’ve been preaching in terms of how we fix our second-half stuff,” said Kelce. “And sure enough, you saw us flying downfield — kind of penalty-free and turnover-free — and found a way to get the ball in the end zone, man.”
The team has to get things rolling now.
Kelce said that the offense is slowly inching forward.
“Every single day, you can see it out on the field. You can see how everybody’s more in tune with the offense and kind of feels their role being developed — and kind of rising to the occasion when [they’re] asked to do more.”
But he also said that it’s too late in the season to be figuring things out.
“At this point, there’s no patience,” he remarked. “Everybody’s kind of on the same page: we’ve got to get this thing rolling now. You felt that last week during the game — and sure enough, you felt that this week during practices and even today. We understand what it can be.”
Kelce is ready for anything — and everything.
Now that he’s on the back side of 30, Kelce understands that his role with the Chiefs could change. But he’s comfortable with that.
“Whatever the team needs, man,” he declared. “[If] Coach Reid needs me anywhere on the field — mixed into the run game, [the] pass game — I’m here for that.”
And Kelce wants to be on the field for every possible snap.
“The only time I’m ever coming off the field — like me personally coming off the field — is if I feel like I’m just too exhausted,” he explained. “Or I’ve just had so many plays in a row, or I’ve just had a big play where I had a big hit or something. Those are the only times you’ll see me come off the field. Outside of that, it’s all just whatever the game plan is — and I’m always on board with that.
“Whoever is out there on the field, obviously I want to be out there helping my teammates out — but I’m not looking at how many plays I’m playing per game or anything like that.”
Rashee Rice could be one of the league’s top receivers.
Kelce believes the rookie wideout has all the talent he needs.
“Man, he could be a No. 1 on the team,” said the veteran tight end. “He could be a No. 1 in the league. I think he’s got all the talent that you need in that receiver room.
“He can play inside, he can play outside. [He’s] strong with the ball — [he] can do things with the ball in his hands once you get it to him — meaning that you can run routes with him or you can just get the ball in his hands right now and he can do some things.
“And that’s why it’s so fun playing with him — because his role is getting bigger and bigger every single week. It’s exciting to see him rise to the occasion.”
Kelce explained that for Rice, the key part of “being Patrick Mahomes-friendly” is simply listening.
“[Patrick is] going to let you know when you’re doing the right things,” said the tight end, who is well known for his chemistry with the reigning MVP. “That’s the ultimate leader he is — and just who he is as a quarterback. He’s going to come up to you and talk to you about where he kind of likes you to fit in voids — or how he sees things kind of developing versus certain coverages.”
Kelce believes that Rice just has to keep being a sponge.
“And as long as [he] just absorbs everything — not only from him but from Coach Reid and how he teaches the offense all across the board — like he’s been doing, you’re going to keep seeing him excel and get more stuff thrown on his plate.”