No one can ever make the claim that Travis Kelce isn't a tough football player.
The former Cincinnati tight end gutted his way through a sports hernia injury in 2012 to have the most productive season by a tight end in school history with 45 catches for 722 yards and eight touchdowns.
The younger brother of Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Jason Kelce, Travis (6-5, 265) had to miss workouts at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine due to the abdominal injury.
He held an individual workout for teams last week and ran an unofficial 4.62 40-yard dash. He said that he still wasn't 100 percent at that workout and was also dealing with a stomach bug.
"I personally like to think that at a full 100 percent health and strength I'd be able to get into the 4.5s (40-yard dash)," he told Detroitlions.com during his pre-draft visit to Allen Park on Tuesday. "Health-wise, I'm now 100 percent. I just have to get my strength back and my weight up."
Kelce suffered the injury against Virginia Tech in the third game of the season. He had surgery following the season and said the most frustrating part of the last few months is that he couldn't prove to teams what he could do beyond his game film.
"I'm a competitor," he said. "Any chance that I can go out there and show that I'm a better guy or show my talent against another guys talent, I'm willing to do it.
"Just sitting back and having to talk my way through the combine and all these meetings has been hard."
The fact that Kelce didn't get his opportunity to be a featured weapon in the Bearcats offense until last season adds to the intrigue for a prospect who has unique size, speed and production, and who's considered among the top five available at his position in the draft later this month.
Kelce was behind Adrien Robinson (New York Giants) early in his career and had just 14 catches in his college career before the 2012 season.
"They told me they needed me to step up (heading into senior season) and I took it upon myself to be there for them," he said.
One red flag regarding Kelce is that lost the entire 2010 season due to a suspension for a violation of team rules.
"What happened in the past happened is in the past and you learn from it," Kelce said. "It's obvious that I did prevail and persevere and go from not being able to play the entire 2010 season, to not only having a breakout year, but being a team captain and a accountable guy in the locker room.
"For me to bounce back like that, I think people look at that as a plus."
Kelce is the third tight end the Lions have brought in for a visit during the pre-draft process. The team also hosted Michael Williams (Alabama) and Dion Sims (Michigan State) last week.
The Lions currently have an opening for a third tight end and starters