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 Kelce Explains How KC Chiefs WR Rashee Rice Avoided the Rookie Wall

On a new episode of New Heights, Kelce spoke about how Rice continues to make a high-level impact deep into his rookie campaign.

In the Kansas City Chiefs’ Wild Card win over the Miami Dolphins, rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice once again justified the team’s selection of him. The 55th overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft continues to provide surplus value in his initial campaign, especially as he seems to get stronger over the course of the season.

Rice’s playoff debut was yet another example of his impact.

Despite dealing with extreme cold, the Chiefs went with a somewhat pass-heavy attack against Miami. Rice matched a season-high mark with 12 targets, converting on eight of those for 130 yards and a touchdown. The SMU product led all Kansas City pass-catchers on the night, leading quarterback Patrick Mahomes to reason that the much-feared ‘rookie wall’ simply hasn’t gotten in Rice’s way.

On this week’s episode of the New Heights podcast with his brother Jason, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce also praised Rice’s recent level of play. Drawing from his own rookie season a decade-plus ago, Kelce alluded to how difficult it is to learn and perform at the same time.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence, man, and making some huge plays for us,” Kelce said. “Early on, you just want to see a guy make strides and have confidence in playing fast, so you don’t want to throw too much at him. I remember as a rookie, it was like I was learning a new language, right? And then on top of that, I had to feel confident with what I was seeing in the defense across me. You get a lot of stuff thrown at you, and that’s where that rookie wall can really hit you. It just seems like chaos for the first 10 weeks of the season.”

In his first regular season, Rice was pretty easily the Chiefs’ most productive wide receiver. Trailing only the future Hall of Fame tight end in targets, receptions and yards, Rice managed to lead the offense in touchdowns and yards per target. He finished behind two All-Pro players, CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys and Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Detroit Lions, in yards after the catch league-wide.

While Rice has always managed to produce this season, his role became more significant over time. A Week 12 breakout against the Las Vegas Raiders signaled a true turning of the corner. In that contest, Rice logged double-digit targets for the first time and also recorded his first game with 100 or more receiving yards. From Weeks 12-17, he averaged seven receptions and 86 yards per game. According to Kelce, the spike in numbers is a byproduct of good coaching and Rice having a thorough understanding of where to be and when to be there.

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