The NFL season officially kicked off on Thursday night as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Detroit Lions. And Chiefs rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice had a huge moment in his first career game that fans took notice of.
Rice comes to the Chiefs as a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after a breakout senior season at SMU where he recorded the third-most receiving yards in Division 1 college football last year.
Star tight end Travis Kelce is sidelined for the game after hyper-extending his knee earlier this week. So the Chiefs were obviously in need of some unheralded players to step up.
Rice answered the call with the first reception of his career, catching a one-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to get the Chiefs on the board.
The Rashee Rice NFL stat line:
1 reception, 1 yard, 1 touchdown pic.twitter.com/Co6fhhYiIA
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) September 8, 2023
You really can’t plan out a better way to get your first NFL reception. And fans praised Rice on social media after the catch.
First NFL game, first TD for Rashee Rice! @RiceRashee11
— NFL (@NFL) September 8, 2023
Patrick Mahomes ➡️ Rashee Rice for SIX! pic.twitter.com/JTIUDrnEa0
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) September 8, 2023
Rashee Rice is roughly 18 games ahead of Skyy Moore on the developmental curve pic.twitter.com/ptJVTa6mJ5
— Davis Mattek (@DavisMattek) September 8, 2023
Welcome to the show Rashee Rice pic.twitter.com/b3bND0QkUx
— BBQ Dom (@RealBBQDom) September 8, 2023
WELCOME TO THE NFL RASHEE RICE 🔥
Pat Mahomes finds the rookie to tie things up
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 8, 2023
This wasn’t the only highlight from Rice in the first half, as he would go on to make a number of other impactful plays in the first half.
Chiefs rookie Rashee Rice works his way open on the Mahomes scramble and picks up the first down.
The second-round pick out of SMU has two catches for 40 yards and a score so far in his debut. pic.twitter.com/LllX4rgcli
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) September 8, 2023
Even when Kelce does eventually return for the Chiefs, they will need for wide receivers to emerge and make big plays. Aside from veteran wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Chiefs are pretty thin in terms of experience at the position.
If Rice can continue to produce early on in the season like this, he could carve out a big role on this Chiefs offense moving forward.