NFL training camps are ripe with opportunities for snap overreactions. We got a great example of this phenomenon on Wednesday, when the Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice provided a perfect moment for an on-the-spot judgment.
Per multiple sources, the team’s second-round selection in April’s draft vomited during the first of training camp’s rookie-and-quarterback sessions at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.
But after beginning his post-practice media appearance by jokingly heaving, Rice seemed unconcerned with the incident. He recounted what he told the coaching staff.
“I told them,” recalled the SMU product, “‘To be honest with y’all, I don’t mind puking. That just means I’m working as hard as I can so that I won’t puke anymore — and will be ready for the games.’”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is noted for running one of the league’s most difficult training camps. Rice acknowledged that he knew to expect adversity.
“They always tell us to come [and] be in shape,” he said. “This is like a track team as far as our wide receiver group. So we come [in] knowing that we’ve got to be expected to run until the game is over — or until practice is over.”
One factor that may have contributed to Rice’s difficulty was a larger-than-normal number of practice reps. Though the Chiefs currently roster 13 wide receivers, only five are participating in the early portion before the full team reports to St. Joseph on Friday.
Rice was aware he was getting more work than he might otherwise expect.
“We’re going to get tired,” he said. “They kind of helped it anyway, trying to let us get a little break in between certain reps and stuff like that.”
Wednesday also marked Rice’s first practice after a notable change: losing weight since the offseason program ended.
“I lost a lot of weight during the off time that we had,” he claimed, “just so I could come back and be lighter on my feet. Honestly, out here, it’s just me trying to hydrate as much I can — just because I knew I was going to sweat a lot doing all the running I was doing today.”
He then put a number to the transition.
“[At OTAs] I was about 212 to 215,” Rice recalled. “I’m 200 pounds right now, so I lost a good amount.”
While transitioning to the NFL would be a challenge for any rookie wide receiver, Rice took advantage of a benefit to which few players have access. Chiefs backup quarterback Shane Buechele was his teammate for his first two seasons at SMU. Rice confirmed that the two had been working together.
“During the summer — in our little break — I was meeting up with Shane every day, every morning,” Rice explained. “Just running routes and putting balls at each hash so we could basically work our own two-minute drill — so I could be in shape and prepare for this.”
While no one wants to see Rice catching passes from Buechele when games matter, Rice believes there is a benefit to making connections with a quarterback who is beginning his third year as Patrick Mahomes’ understudy.
“[Buechele] just kind of taught me about what’s going through Pat’s mind as far as me running a play,” he noted, “and what he’s looking at as far as how the defense is moving and where he’d want me to be on certain plays.”
The former college teammates will continue working together at Missouri Western as the Rice attempts to learn Reid’s notoriously complex playbook.
“Meeting with Shane during that little break,” Rice declared, “he gave me kind of a head start just because he’s a QB and he can’t really take a break from the playbook. Every day, I’m going to be meeting with Shane in his dorm just to go over plays before the next day — so I’ll be prepared.”