Chiefs teammates praise rookie Nick Bolton’s performance at MIKE linebacker

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Kansas City Chiefs rookie LB Nick Bolton has started in each of the seven games his team has played this season, but Week 7 was different.

Bolton filled in for veteran LB Anthony Hitchens at the MIKE position as he recovers from a triceps injury. As a result, Bolton wore the green dot, getting the microphone to the sideline in his helmet to relay all the play calls to the defense.

Bolton also managed the most impressive individual performance of his young career, posting historic numbers in the process.

“I thought he played fast,” Chiefs DB Tyrann Mathieu said of Bolton. “I thought he did what he was supposed to do.”

The nuance and understanding needed to play this position in the NFL is something that isn’t often stated. Players like Mathieu were impressed by Bolton’s ability to step in for Hitchens seamlessly, especially on the communication side of things.

“Trying to play MIKE linebacker in the National Football League is not an easy duty at all,” Mathieu continued. “So to see him kind of step in, obviously, he played a great individual game, but for the most part, especially in the second half, him being able to line us up, getting everybody on the same page, I thought we were able to finish that game strong really because of the direction and communication that took place with him.”

Bolton actually credited Hitchens for helping him prepare leading up to the Week 7 game. Even though the Chiefs didn’t get the results they wanted that week, there were a lot of positive things to take away from the performance. His collaboration with LB Willie Gay Jr. for instance. The second-year OLB had an encouraging game as well, notching an interception off Ryan Tannehill.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with him,” Gay said of Bolton. “Just seeing him progress week after week and even before I came back, just seeing him out there when it was him and Hitch (Anthony Hitchens) or Ben (Niemann), now me and him out there together, just watching him play and fly around, it’s exciting.”

This is just the beginning for guys like Bolton, who is sure to be the future at the MIKE linebacker position in Kansas City. Next up, he’ll get a chance to impress under the bright lights of “Monday Night Football.”

“(I’m) just excited to continue to see him grow in this league,” Mathieu said of Bolton. “We’re just looking forward to him playing the same Monday night in front of the whole world.”

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