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Pre-Camp Reads: Travis Kelce On Verge of Passing Tony Gonzalez in Key Receiving Stat

There isn’t a tight end in the NFL who has more receiving yards over the past two seasons than the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce.

The 2,163 yards Kelce has totaled ranks 10th-best among all NFL receivers over that time, and this includes two-straight seasons of going for more than 1,000 yards in each individual season.

But if Kelce were to do that for a third-straight season, he’d find himself in rarified air—something that soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez never even did in his career—going three-straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

It’s almost unfathomable to think about, considering the careers of guys like Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Rob Gronkowski, and others.

In fact, there’s only ever been one tight end in NFL history to accomplish that feat—going three-straight seasons for more than 1,000 yards, and it was the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Olsen (2014-16). Kelce could join him with another big year in 2018.

And with so many changes taking place on the offensive side of the ball for the Chiefs this offseason—most notably the move to second-year player Patrick Mahomes as the starting quarterback, plus the addition of Sammy Watkins at receiver, there’s a lot of intrigue about where this offense as a whole could go outside of Kelce just putting up numbers.

“It’s exciting,” Kelce said of what’s transpired over the offseason at the position. “Right now, you just look at the offensive side of the ball, we have talent everywhere. Even when I thought the tight end room couldn’t get any better, we picked up [Jace Amaro] and [Tim Wright], and right now it’s looking as athletic of a room as I’ve been in, which is awesome because Coach Reid loves to throw to his tight ends.

“It’s exciting to see where this offense can go.”

Last year, the Chiefs attempted the third-most passes in the NFL out of two tight-end sets, so there’s little doubting Reid’s affinity for putting some bigger-bodies on the field together and tossing it around.

Now, we’ll see if that trend continues with Mahomes—a guy Kelce truly believes in as he takes over the reins of the most difficult position to play in all of sports.

"He just took control out there on the first day," Kelce noted of Mahomes early in the offseason program. "That's the biggest thing is seeing that he does have control of the room at such a young age, knowing this is his first rodeo in the NFL. He's not shy about taking the lead and that's huge. It makes it easier on all of us to see the direction of where this can go and it's easy to follow that.

"It's exciting and it's something I think we're going to have to do together knowing Pat's situation, him coming into a role with a lot of scrutiny at the quarterback position. It's definitely going to be a team effort to try to get him rolling."

Kelce continued on about what makes him confident in his young quarterback—going a step further than simply mentioning the flashy throws that have come to define Mahomes’ game in the highlight-reel society we’re all in right now.

"It's just his preparation," Kelce added. "He was ready at any point in time to go into the game and try to win for us (last year). It's all based off his preparation and how he went about his week-to-week work.

"Every single throw, it means something to him. Every single play means something to him. He's not going to just sit there or lie down knowing he's got two 300-pounders in his face. He's going to go ahead and try to make both of them miss—and still make a throw to get us in position to keep the ball going down the field."

Kelce is joined in the tight ends room again this year by fourth-year player Demetrius Harris, who had the best season of career a year ago—finishing with 18 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown.

The Chiefs also brought in some competition at the position this offseason by adding veteran Tim Wright, as well as former second-round pick Jace Amaro, and second-year player Alex Ellis.

Wright hasn’t played since 2015 but has played in 41 games in his career with the Buccaneers (2013), Patriots (2014), and Lions (2015)—accumulating 89 receptions for 907 yards and 13 touchdowns over that time.

Amaro, who has played in 17 games in his career with the Jets (2014-15) and Titans (2016), has 38 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns since entering the league as the No. 49 overall pick by the Jets in 2014 out of Texas Tech.

Overall, the Chiefs have surrounded Mahomes with plenty of weapons this offseason and led by Kelce and his pursuit of something only done one other time in NFL history, the tight ends group will definitely be one to watch throughout training camp and the preseason.

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