Second-year tight end Travis Kelce keeps showing the Chiefs what they missed last season.
Kelce, who missed all but one play last season because of a bothersome knee that required microfracture surgery, caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from rookie Aaron Murray in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ 28-16 loss to Carolina on Sunday night at Bank of America Stadium.
On Aug. 7, Kelce caught a pass from Chase Daniel and blazed through the Cincinnati secondary for a 69-yard touchdown play that gave the Chiefs the lead for good in a 41-39 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. It was the longest play in a Chiefs preseason game in more than 15 years.
The scenario was much the same Sunday night. With the Chiefs trailing 14-9, Kelce got behind the Carolina defense and hauled in rookie Aaron Murray’s pass for a 43-yard touchdown catch — the longest pass play of the game — that gave Kansas City a short-lived 16-14 lead.
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Kelce finished the night with four receptions for 63 yards and was also open on a pass from Murray that was intercepted.
“Kelce has made two huge plays, and he even had some other ones underneath tonight and making guys miss and getting north and south,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “It was good to see. He’s going to add another element to the tight end position. He’ll stretch some defenses and do some things with the ball in his hands. It’s exciting to see.”
Big things were expected from Kelce last season after he was selected in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Cincinnati. Kelce had an outstanding offseason program and the Chiefs were splitting him wide, in the slot and on the line of scrimmage during training camp and preseason games before he came up injured at the end of the preseason.
Consequently, in coach Andy Reid’s tight end friendly offense, Kansas City tight ends caught just 54 passes for 537 yards in 2013. By comparison, in Reid’s last four years in Philadelphia, his tight ends averaged 72 catches for 855 yards.
“I like what he’s doing,” said Reid. “He has to keep coming with it. There’s more to it than just route running. You have to run block, and detail all your work there. You have to give him credit for the effort he’s given in the pass game, and he sure has a nice skill level.”