This wasn't supposed to be Rashee Rice's year.
As the Kansas City Chiefs second-round pick, Rice had every reason to expect to figure heavily into the team's long-term plans—an exciting venture for any young pass catcher knowing he'll be receiving future throws from Patrick Mahomes for years to come. But as for the next year, the 2023 season was supposed to be all about learning the playbook, developing timing, and growing into an eventual role. Just ask Skyy Moore.
Three games into the 2023 season, Rice is coming into his own, showing an earlier-than-expected rhythm and rapport with Mahomes that's turning him into the sort of physical pass catcher missing ever since JuJu Smith-Schuster accepted a multi-year deal with the New England Patriots last spring.
For a player who was supposed to need considerable time to find his rhythm, Rashee Rice is emerging as a nice surprise for the Chiefs.
That's not to say that Rice is blowing up stat sheets like this year's version of a Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson. The Chiefs offense has sputtered to start the year and even then, Rice is going to be one of several mouths fed. So far this year, he's only caught 10 passes for 108 yards and 1 touchdown. But for those watching closely on Sunday, it was clear that Rice was developing at a faster pace than expected, exhibiting a clear connection with Mahomes and strong pro instincts.
Earlier this week, head coach Andy Reid spoke highly of Rice's growth curve so early in the NFL season.
"I like the way Rice is coming along. He’s catching the ball well," said Reid to reporters earlier this week. "He’s getting up the field. He had the one at the end—that was on him, the interception at the end. But for the most part here, he’s doing a nice job. When he has that ball in his hands, he’s strong and he knows how to get up the field quickly. That’s a real positive. And I think Pat has trust in him."
Remember that Rice was oh-so-close to two more touchdowns on Sunday. He also earned a modest 7 targets and played over 50 percent of snaps for the first time this season. The trajectory is definitely headed in a positive direction when it comes to Rice's likely production—great news for a position that needed someone to step up in the wake of so many veteran departures in the last two offseasons.
Here's what's trending in other Chiefs news
The former Oregon star was a nice preseason performer for the Detroit Lions. It will be interesting to see if he stays longer than when Richie James is back (which allowed Montrell Washington to jump to the active roster).
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Lammons has been suspended for the first three games of this season for the offseason altercation from two years ago in which he and Alvin Kamara were both charged for assault. Kamara still has three games to go for his part.
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