The Kansas City Chiefs welcomed tight end Travis Kelce back to the lineup for Sunday’s 17-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, after he future Hall of Famer had missed the season opener against the Detroit Lions with a knee injury.
The league’s best tight end did appear somewhat rusty, grabbing just four of his nine targets for 26 yards — but one of his catches did go for a crucial Kansas City touchdown.
Kelce doesn’t believe his knee injury significantly hindered him.
“I’m not going to say it was an issue at all,” he insisted after the game. “Everything you saw out there was 100% of what I could give. Hopefully next week, we can get even better from it.”
Kelce does concede, however, that he may need to change his practice routines.
“It was a routine play,” he recalled of the injury he sustained in practice. “I got caught in a bad position. I’ve just got to be more fundamentally sound, I guess, and just make sure before practice — or throughout the week — that everything is firing so I don’t put myself in a position like that.
“Initially, I was like, ‘What the heck happened? Hopefully there’s nothing severe.’ But once I started working out with the training staff [and] doing a lot of the rehab, I just put full trust in the medical staff that we have here — and sure enough, I was able to get out there and help.”
While Kelce’s stat line appeared meager by his standards, head coach Andy Reid was happy with the volume his star was able to handle while coming off an injury.
“Trav did a good job,” declared Reid after the game. “He’s in pretty good shape. He had a lot of routes in there, so it looked like he felt pretty good.”
While most reports following the injury downplayed concerns, quarterback Patrick Mahomes appeared to imply that the injury may have been more serious than it was reported.
“Just the fact that he played,” he remarked in his postgame media appearance, “surprised me, honestly — because that’s a scary injury. He didn’t look good there for a little bit. But he battled over those extra days; he was in the facility, rehabbing.
“To get himself out there and able to play? It talks about the competitor that he is — and the teammate that he is. Having him out there not only makes him make plays, but it helps everybody else and gets other guys open. [He’s] truly just a great teammate to even be out on that field.”
Kelce downplayed his quarterback’s concern.
“There was no doubt in my mind,” he said of the questions surrounding his game status. “I was out there flying around. I wish I could have helped my team out a little bit more than I did — but we came out of Jacksonville with a win.”
Kelce did deliver one of the few bright moments for the offense when he caught a third-quarter touchdown pass to extend Kansas City’s lead.
“They’ve got a great defensive coordinator,” he said of the Jaguars. “[When] you get down in the red zone, they really make you find voids in the zones. With that being said, I knew [that] once Pat broke contain, [I’d know] where a soft spot was going to be.”
And even without a big game their star tight end, the Chiefs have evened their record with a win over a 2022 division winner.
“We’re moving forward,” said Kelce. “I’ll take a ‘dub’ any way we can get it, baby.”