Chiefs vs. Saints Primer: Kelce's Strides

Tony Moeaki & Travis Kelce

St. Joseph, MO - When the Kansas City Chiefs selected Cincinnati Bearcat Tight End, Travis Kelce, in April's NFL draft, not many people believed this was an area of need for KC. But there is an adage, sometimes you add to your strengths before building up your weaknesses. And with Kelce in hand, suddenly the tight end position in KC is loaded with talent.

At the onset of free agency last March, the Kansas City Chiefs signed former Miami Dolphins Tight End, Anthony Fasano. In fact, he was the only free agent signed by KC over the spring that inked a deal beyond three years. The Chiefs gave Fasano a four-year contract and everyone believed ultimately he'd become the starting tight end this season in Kansas City.

There was no question the Chiefs needed an upgrade in the offseason at the tight end position. Primarily because they've never been able to count on last year's starter, Tony Moeaki. The often-injured KC tight end had another offseason surgery in the spring, and with his history of spending time in the infirmary versus the playing field, signing Fasano was a no-brainer by the Chiefs.

But did that concern really facilitate the need to add yet another tight end via the draft? Apparently the Chiefs felt so.

So when Kansas City selected, Travis Kelce, many people began the curiosity hunt on why the Chiefs drafted him so high. But after doing some due diligence, the soon to be Chief, certainly adds some incredible athleticism and attitude to Andy Reid's new offense. And those are big reasons; the Chiefs secured his draft rights.

Within the west coast offense, you must possess tight ends that can catch the ball over the middle of the field and block for the running game. If early returns mean anything, Kelce has proved he can catch the rock and is already gaining confidence in his blocking abilities. And that should serve the Chiefs well within their red zone offense where they've struggled mightily to score touchdowns the last two seasons.

"Everything is starting to click a little bit more, the techniques were a little bit different," he said about blocking at the NFL level. "Once I got ahold of those, I think everything started to come together. I still have a lot of work to do, but it is definitely getting better."

Overall Kelce has been a nice surprise in training camp. And if Reid's latest depth chart means anything, Kelce sits behind Fasano and ahead of Moeaki, the coaching staff appears primed to give this rookie tight end significant playing time in the regular season.

And the good news about that news flash is that this offense perfectly serves as a high reward opportunity for Kelce's talents.

"I think the whole offense in general can take the pressure off of everyone. The offense is so friendly in terms of making it easier on the guys with their hands on the ball. That being said, I think we take pressure off the receivers and the receivers take pressure off us. The only ones that really have pressure are the quarterbacks around here," Kelce said.

Still you have to be weary of the fact that he is wet behind the ears rookie and he didn't exactly play for a collegiate powerhouse at the University of Cincinnati. However, that's not something that was a big concern to Reid or General Manager, John Dorsey, when he was under consideration as a potential draftee.

That's because both men felt Kelce is a pure football player. One that fights for every ball and takes his role, whatever that might be, with an attitude and vigor that could lead to a very long NFL career in Kansas City.

But before we get ahead of ourselves on his stay in the show, he still has to prove himself on the field. After all training camp rookies sometimes fail to mature when the games begin for real.

Kelce still has much to learn and absorbing everything thrown his way isn't easy for a player that's never played a down in an NFL game.

So what does he do to bridge that gap? He did what you'd expect, he talked to the two tight ends that he's battling for playing time with in Kansas City, the aforementioned, Fasano and Moeaki. So what has he learned from them?

"Everything, how to be a professional, how to live my life off the field, how to take care of my body, things like that. On the field, just learning in terms of blocking, hand placement and footsteps. The little things that I need help with; I can always go to them," he said of the veteran tight ends.

But that's not all the advise he's received at the birthmark of his NFL career. Kelce's older brother, Jason Kelce, plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles. And ironically, the Chiefs travel to Philly to face Eagles in week three of the regular season for a Thursday Night NFL affair.

And with Jason's former Head Coach, now the man in the charge of the Chiefs, he did offer up some advise to his kid brother about what to expect in his first training camp under Reid and company.

"The first thing he told me is that you can only anticipate so much, you can only expect so much. The only way you're really going to get to learn about it is to go out and do it. That being said, he was right on; there was only so much I could really think about and know about until you come out here and do it yourself. It's been high-tempo, it's been good football and it's been fun," he said.

Still the wide-eyed and very talented Chiefs rookie can't deny that it'll be fun to face his older brother next month. But even though their blood runs deep they are on opposite sides battling to defeat one another. And despite the fact, he's not sure what to expect in his feelings about battling his brother, that won't deter him from wanting to win the game more than Jason.

"I guess I'll know when I go out there. It's always been football to me, (whether it is) a big stage, small stage or even in practice, you have to go out there and you have to perform. Either you win your one-on-one matchups or you don't. That being said, I think it's going to be fun to go out there and get some competition against some other guys."

It sounds to me as if Kelce just wants to get on the field and play the game he clearly loves. On Friday night, he'll get to do just that as the Chiefs open up the exhibition season against the New Orleans Saints.

And that should serve him well when he travels to Philly to face his brother when the games really mean something.

Will Travis Kelce rise to #1 of KC's depth chart this season?

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