Players who must improve: TE Travis Kelce

Here we’ll continue a series that looks at five young Kansas City Chiefs players who need to make progress from where they were in 2013. Forget for a moment about the Chiefs getting help from free-agent or draft additions. If these players come through, the Chiefs will be in good shape in 2014.

We’ll continue with tight end Travis Kelce. His rookie season was a waste, ruined by a knee ailment and then surgery. The Chiefs also lost the since-departed Tony Moeaki for the season with an injury and, as a result, their tight ends were near the bottom of the league in catches and yardage.

That has to change if the Chiefs, who failed to add a proven wide receiver during the offseason, are to grow their passing game. The Chiefs, who also declined the opportunity to add a tight end, are obviously counting on Kelce for significant help.

Kelce has the ability to provide it. Even at 260 pounds, Kelce showed the ability last year before his injury in offseason practice and training camp to beat a linebacker or safety down the field and make catches. Having a player of Kelce’s size and abilities can add a dimension to a team’s passing game.

But he has to get on the field first. Kelce, still recovering from the knee ailment, missed the first few offseason practices this year. That’s a troubling development. The Chiefs say he will return to practice in time. The fact they didn’t add a tight end in the offseason would support that stance.

Kelce’s situation bears watching. The sooner he can get back to practice, the better for the Chiefs.