Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens will play at a lighter weight in 2021

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The Kansas City Chiefs added players through the draft back in April that are expected to play vital roles this season. The veterans, however, will also play key roles during the upcoming season.

One veteran that has accepted the role as a leader has been linebacker Anthony Hitchens. A young linebacker room surrounds the eight-year veteran with second-year player Willie Gay and rookie Nick Bolton. Hitchens expressed a focused mindset during Monday’s press conference with reporters.

“Just improve, like I said back in the spring. Keep improving. The only way you can get better is by working at it,” Hitchens said on Monday. “Coach (Andy) Reid and the rest of our coaching staff put together a plan for us to get more reps in the red zone, so all you can do is go out there and work at it. That’s the forefront of our mind right now, so just getting better in all areas, especially in the red zone.”

One area where Hitchens has already improved this season is his fitness. When the veteran linebacker first joined the Chiefs back in 2018, he weighed closer to 240 pounds. Typically, for training camp, Hitchens showed up weighing around 235 pounds. This year, he’s showed up five pounds lighter to camp and intends to keep it that way.

“For me, I turned my tape on and I played my best ball around where I’m at right now,” Hitchens explained. “There’s times where I can get too light, and there’s sometimes where I can put on some pounds. So, I’ve got to find that happy medium to where I can play rangy but also play in the box. And sometimes, some people can fix that in one year, two years, three years. So it’s just a feel for it. I might get into camp and I’m like, ‘Nah, nah. I have to put my weight back on.’ I’m just going to play with it. We have a little time before the first game, so I’m going to play with it, but I don’t want to be too high or too low on my weight. So, I’ll pick a middleweight and go from there. 231 to 230 is where I’m going to shoot for throughout the whole season.”

Hitchens hopes to set the tone for the season early, relishing the opportunity to be in pads again and get physical on the football field. It’s like Christmas for linebackers, who thrive most when they can tackle.

“Yeah, it’s been a while since, like early February,” said Hitchens. “Anytime you get out there, and we’re blessed to be able to do this for a job, so anytime you get the pads on and get out there running and hitting and having fun, it’s always a good thing. I’m right with them. I’m excited about it as well. Just looking forward to keep improving this year in this camp and getting better.”

Hitchens will be ready to improve his own player, but also elevate the player of the entire linebacker corps. They haven’t exactly had the best track record over the past few seasons, but the former Iowa Hawkeye is entering the 2021 season on a mission to take his unit to another level.

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