Rashee Rice deserves more credit early in Chiefs training camp

Reports swirled earlier today, the first day of Chiefs Training Camp, that rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice had a rough time in his first pre-season practice as a Chief.
Kansas City Chiefs Offseason Workout
Kansas City Chiefs Offseason Workout / Kyle Rivas/GettyImages

It's that time on the football calendar when we all pick something to dissect because, well, nothing else is really going on. So when ESPN's Adam Teicher dropped this tweet this afternoon on the first day of rookies and quarterbacks practicing in St. Joseph to kick off Chiefs training camp, Twitter nearly threw up on itself—no pun intended.

Many reporters on-site at Missouri Western had the same scoop. On Day 1, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice struggled with the Midwestern heat and humidity, had to leave practice, and later returned to throw up all over the field. He must be grossly out of shape and not taking his job seriously, right? What a bust! Brett Veach can't draft wide receivers! The Chiefs should've taken Marvin Mims or Jalin Hyatt instead of Rice!

Those are some of the reactions that (likely) could be found on Twitter this afternoon. The reality of the situation is Rice is coming into a system in the NFL that is not only one of the league's most notoriously disciplined but also a high-powered, fast-moving offensive scheme that is harbored in an intensely competitive culture. You don't get to 3 of the last 4 Super Bowls and win 2 of them by coasting on the first day of training camp.

Rashee Rice had a rough time in his first pre-season practice as a Chief.

Andy Reid's camps are often talked about as grueling, physically and mentally-taxing experiences that aren't for the faint of heart. Does this mean Rice is weak or out of shape? Not even close. It means that he's making the transition from a mid-tier college football program where all of the facilities are temperature controlled (for practice, anyway) into an intentionally brutal setting curated by one of the greatest, albeit old-school, football coaches of all time in an atmosphere where it's 90 degrees outside with 300% humidity.

To all those bagging on Rice for puking on day one, please return your seatbacks and tray tables to an upright position, because I'm about to land this plane back in reality for you. Again, this is day 1 of training camp. I would wager that dozens of players across the league blow chunks on their first days of camp, even All-Pros. It's an adjustment. Rice has been working out this off-season, in fact, he's been working out with Chiefs backup and former SMU quarterback Shane Buchele who has been assisting him in figuring out how the get on the same wavelength with Patrick Mahomes, with whom he also worked out earlier in this summer.

extraAndy Reid said in May that Rice "needed to get his running in" before showing up to camp. It's not like Andy and the leadership in the front office in K.C. were insinuating that Rice was out of shape and needed to do some exrtra conditioning so he didn't throw up in camp. If they thought that, they wouldn't have drafted him. It's because Reid knows that when a Ferrari engine is really humming it's hitting a level of horsepower that not many other engines can touch. In a nutshell, that's the Chiefs offense, and specifically the receiving corps.

For those who have played football at any level really, you know that the first days and weeks of camp are tests. Coaches push you physically and mentally in order to see who's got what it takes to make the team. Why would it surprise anyone that the team on the highest perch of the highest level of the sport has one of the more grueling opening portions of training camp? Or that a rookie who is stepping into that setting for the first time in his life would have an adverse reaction to it?

When Rice is hauling in touchdowns later this fall against the Bengals and Bills while helping the Chiefs make another deep playoff push, I'm sure that will come with the "yeah, but" caveat that he puked in camp, right? Surely we'll remember that.

Years ago we aggrandized guys who were ripping cigs in the locker room and showing up to practices half-cocked after long nights out gambling and doing other 1960s "boys will be boys" type of activities. Now we want to pick apart a 23 year old rookie for pushing it too hard and throwing up at training camp. Makes a lot of sense. Let Rashee cook. By the time the season rolls around, I'd bet anything he's in shape enough to contribute and make an impact in his rookie season.