Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens praises Nick Bolton’s midseason rise

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Eighth-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens has been a foundational piece of the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense the past few years.

While Hitchens was out with an injury elbow injury suffered in Week 6, he played an instrumental role in training the next MIKE linebacker for Kansas City in rookie Nick Bolton. Since then, the rookie has proven he belongs as a centerpiece of an NFL defense, producing in crazy numbers while also helping to keep the unit fundamentally sound as their de facto quarterback. Hitchens commented on the rookie’s development ahead of Wednesday’s practice, praising the hard work Bolton has put in, while also taking some credit for his role as a positional mentor.

“He works his tail off,” Hitchens said of the rookie’s progress. “And just because I wasn’t playing doesn’t mean I wasn’t in every single meeting and at every single practice. So yeah, I just take pride in what I do. So, if I’m not out there helping on the field, I’m going to be helping in the classroom and walkthroughs and practice. I just told him everything I knew for that week and he took it and ran with it, played his butt off for those weeks and still playing well. Yeah, good for him.”

While it is sure to be a bittersweet feeling to see another younger player step in and play so well under his tutelage, Hitchens seems to be taking his situation in stride. Focusing on the long-term outlook of the team as a whole and the defense specifically, Hitchens is proving to be the leader Kansas City has needed after such a disappointing start to their 2021 season.

Time will tell if Bolton can be the true successor to Hitchens’ spot at MIKE in the middle of the Chiefs’ defense, but it seems all parties involved are confident that the pieces are there, now it is just a matter of putting everything together, ideally in time for January football in 2022.

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