ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Tight end Travis Kelce caught the first pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes in both 7-on-7 and full-squad drills Wednesday as the Kansas City Chiefs began a three-day minicamp mostly for their younger players.
That will be long forgotten once the Chiefs get deeper into training camp, but it’s big news for now because it means Kelce, their leading receiver in each of the past three seasons, appears healthy after missing all offseason practices after having ankle surgery.
Kelce said after practice that he’s back to 100% and that his ankle is better than it’s been in years.
“I didn’t have any issues today,” said Kelce, who is eligible to participate in the minicamp because he missed the offseason work. “It’s good to get a sweat [going], take the visor off and put a helmet on, get out there and start running around.”
Kelce said the ankle had been a problem for him at times over the past few seasons.
“I wouldn’t say it bothered me to the point where it hindered my game,” he said. “It was just something that was nagging. Really Monday and Tuesday was where it really got me the most. And sometimes here and there, I would roll the ankle because of how loose the joint was. Other than that, I was just playing through it.
“What I had done was basically tightening up the ankle and making sure that it wasn’t as wobbly. What that does is it tightens up and stabilizes the joint so I’m not just hitting cartilage and damaging that [part] of the ankle.”
Kelce may have been able to practice in June, when the Chiefs concluded their offseason work. They held him out, however, erring on the side of caution.
That limited Kelce to an offseason role he described as “player-coach” because he couldn’t participate.
“It’s a lot easier to be on the field leading by example than it is to just talk about it,” Kelce said. “It doesn’t matter how much credibility you’ve got on your resume or what you’ve done in the past. Until you go out there and really go through the motions and show the effort, show the excitement to be out there with the guys, it’s just never the same.”
Kelce’s return means the Chiefs will have their full complement of offensive skill players — a group that also includes wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins — when they begin full-squad training camp Saturday.
“He did a nice job,” coach Andy Reid said. “I thought he moved around well. I didn’t see anything lingering from the surgery.”