Kansas City Chiefs rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice's 938 receiving yards were the most by any rookie who's played for head coach Andy Reid. He also set the Chiefs rookie record for receiving touchdowns in a season with seven.
But Rice didn't exactly hit the ground running to start the season. In fact, he didn't top 60 yards receiving in a game until the Chiefs Week 6 victory over the Denver Broncos when he had four catches for 72 yards.
Rice's development was slow and steady, but you could see him improving and earning the coaching staff's trust little by little each week. By the end of the season, he was the Chiefs' second-leading receiver behind tight end Travis Kelce.
Speaking of Kelce, Rice credits the veteran with mentoring and helping him get to where he is today.
"Travis teaches me everything from when Pat's (quarterback Patrick Mahomes) just like doing a little scramble drill... just buying time, basically... watching the way that the line is going to fall so I could find a window for Pat."
Rice continued, saying that Kelce has helped him key in on the small details the defense gives you.
"Certain routes, he's trying to tell me, just think about this linebacker being here. If he turns his shoulders upfield, that means he's trying to run deep with the slot. So if you just buy a little bit more time and stay vertical and stuff like that. So I can buy the time to let the defense clear."
There was some talk on social media on Thursday that Kelce gets vocal with the other receivers if he feels they are not playing up to the standard that's expected of them, but Rice doesn't view it that way.
"I wouldn't say he necessarily got after me," explained Rice. "But if the receivers aren't out there moving as fast as we should, he's going to speak on it."
Rice said that often, it's him who is seeking out input from Kelce.
"If there's something he feels like I could have fixed in the middle of a route or anything like that — As soon as I get to the sideline, I'm running over to him. He's not running over me. I'm running over to him. Obviously, I want to learn from him."
And this isn't a situation of an old veteran preaching to a young star where the veteran's pearls of wisdom are falling on deaf ears, on the contrary, Rice said he loves the feedback.
"It's Travis Kelce, and he's one of the greatest tight ends to ever play."
Relying on the coaching staff
Beyond just Kelce helping Rice develop, he also said that he's learned a lot from Kansas City's coaching staff.
"They just taught me how to run routes as far as, you know, not trying to separate from the line of scrimmage and to beat the DBs at the end of the route instead of the beginning of the route because the DBs are a lot faster, [and have] great recovery speed and stuff like that nowadays."
Other veterans have helped out Rice as well. On the eve of the biggest game of his young career, Rice said that he spoke with Mahomes about how to stay in the right mindset in the lead-up to the game. He said that the goal is to stay as even-keeled as possible because the flow of the game is different.
"Even at the beginning of the game, when it starts, it's like a 30-minute wait, and then, you know, halftime is long. So just kind of trying to keep myself balanced as far as, you know, excitement and just being ready."
To this point, a reporter asked him if he had a plan for how he was going to get a good night's sleep and handle the pregame excitement on Saturday night.
"I'm going to go in my room, and lay on my bed and go to sleep," said Rice. "I'm not going to let this game be too big."
Because of this, Rice said he's ready to play anytime and any place.
"We can put the pads on right now. Just get us a little stretch. You know, we ready — we came here ready."