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It’s not often that Kansas City Chiefs fans are treated to the experience of having a local player from the college ranks join their team at the professional level. Along with Byron Pringle, rookie Nick Bolton is one of two Chiefs players to have played their collegiate ball in close proximity to Arrowhead Stadium, which has led to an early following for him in Kansas City.
Given that he is already a fan favorite, Bolton’s first regular-season experience in the Chiefs Kingdom was one he won’t soon forget. Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s practice, Bolton said the atmosphere at Arrowhead was every bit as raucous as he had been told, and that playing in front of a packed stadium was a welcome change.
“People told me before I came up here about how electric it is and it lived up to everything I expected going into it,” Bolton said of the experience at Arrowhead. “It’s a fantastic environment to go out there and compete (in), and I kind of feel like I started off a little slow in terms of the game, but kind of got more comfortable, started to get in the flow of things and then plays started coming to me as I was going through my keys and stuff we discussed during the week. So, (I’m) just looking forward to building on that.”
Asked about if he feels he has anything to prove, Bolton spoke about the significance of tallying his first of seven tackles on Sunday against Nick Chubb in front of the Chiefs faithful. He told the media that the early involvement went a long way toward making him feel comfortable in his rookie debut.
“(I’m) just trying to prove to myself that I can play at this level,” He explained. “It was a boost of confidence, kind of gave me confidence going on throughout that game. Earlier in the series, I had a tackle on Baker Mayfield, kind of loosened up the pads, and after that, just playing fast and just trusting myself.”
As his trust in himself continues to evolve, Bolton reflected on the offseason process that got him to this point, emphasizing that every step along the way helped in his development to become a game one starter.
“It was a blessing to have a preseason, OTA’s, training camp, all of that heading in,” Bolton said. “It all helped slow down the game for me a little bit. Sometimes out there, it wasn’t necessarily the game speed that was tough, it was the emotional aspect of it, just trying to make sure you’re sharp and in tune with the cadence. Those intangible things at the linebacker position, so that was kind of the biggest transition for me. I feel like I did a pretty good job with it and I’m looking to build on it next week.”
He’ll have a huge opportunity to make an impact against the Ravens’ offensive high-wire act spearheaded by Lamar Jackson and a plethora of receivers that can turn short gains into points. With his first career start out of the way early, the future looks bright for the middle of the Chiefs defense.