Kelce spends a lot of time studying the all-time great players at his position in hopes of improving his game. So Kelce, who had his fourth straight game with 100-plus receiving yards in Thursday night’s 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium, has a healthy appreciation for what he’d accomplished.
Kelce is the second Chiefs player with four consecutive 100-yard games, joining former tight end Tony Gonzalez, who did it during the 2000 season.
"It’s unbelievable," said Kelce, the Chiefs' third-round pick in the 2013 draft. "I’m still a kid when it comes to loving the heroes of my generation. Tony was one of them and he’s still the top-of-the-line character off the field. I’m fortunate enough to have his number in my phone and I try to text him every now and then when I need advice.
"He’s the man. To be in his company means a lot."
Kelce leads the Chiefs with 916 receiving yards. He’s headed for his first career 1,000-yard season, and at the rate he’ll get there in Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans. With three games left for the Chiefs, Kelce has an outside shot at catching Gonzalez’s team record for receiving yards in a season: 1,258, set in 2004.
Kelce hasn’t scored a touchdown since Oct. 30 against the Indianapolis Colts, so his receiving achievements have been overlooked to an extent by those of rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill. But Kelce’s play is a huge factor in the Chiefs’ winning streak over potential playoff teams in the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and the Raiders.
“He’s doing it a lot of different ways," quarterback Alex Smith said. “How many times has he caught something short and taken off down the field? You just don’t see many tight ends with that kind of ability. He also has the speed to get past them. The post we threw [when the Chiefs were] backed up, he’s running by a safety and [making] a great play on the ball.
“I think he’s a got a lot of tools. It starts with that."
The Chiefs are also trying to get the ball more to Kelce in open-field situations where he can do what he does best, which is run after the catch.
“He’s certainly a guy that you’re trying to get the ball to in the course of a game," Smith said. “It just depends. ... No question there’s probably not a single week where obviously he’s not a guy we’re not trying to get involved."