The Kansas City Chiefs’ second-round wide receiver Rashee Rice got his first taste of live NFL action during Sunday’s preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints, playing 24 snaps (the most snaps among the team’s wideouts) and collecting three catches for 30 yards.
“I think I played well,” Rice declared to reporters after Tuesday’s training camp practice back at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “For me, being able to transition from college to the NFL? It’s a big spotlight — and a lot different game feel.”
Rice flashed his run-after-the-catch ability on a short screen pass that went for 13 yards — and then showcased exceptional toughness on his other two catches as he absorbed big hits.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous,” Rice recalled. “There’s a lot of lights — and it was my first game in a dome. You just kind of knew you were in the spotlight. Even my first time running on the field, I knew that everybody sees me running onto the field by myself.”
Meanwhile, Rice is learning how to transition from college into the NFL. Sometimes that’s about simplifying long play-calls. Other times, it’s about getting used to huddling after each play.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easier — or harder,” Rice said of the differences. “It’s football — and I feel like if you put your all into football, it’s all the same. You’ve just got to try to figure out ways for it to slow down and be easier for you.”
The work Rice has put in during practice is also helping to smooth his transition. So is advice from players like quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Shane Buechele — and fellow wide receivers like Skyy Moore.
“I feel very confident with the offensive playbook,” he revealed, “just because I’ve got people like Pat, Shane and all the other wide receivers. Skyy just got done being in the same place that I’m in, so he’s been nothing but help for me.”
Just the same, it takes a lot of reps to master the Kansas City offense — and then while getting snaps with the first team, becoming accustomed to the team’s superstar quarterback. But Rice feels like he’s been coming along.
“Only thing that’s been a little challenging is the defense being able to disguise their [play-call],” he admitted, “and then having to run my route and [be] able to adjust to the defense — [and] also knowing what Pat is thinking while the defense is adjusting. [It’s] kind of thinking for the defense — and thinking for Pat — and myself.”
Entering the 2023 season, the Chiefs face a lot of questions at wide receiver. For the team to continue being a championship contender, it’s clear that every player in the position group needs to step up. As he and his teammates prepare for Saturday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, Rice feels like he’s ready to do just that.
“I feel really good,” he said. “I’m very confident — [and] ready to get this next game going.”