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Kansas City Chiefs’ mandatory minicamp is an opportunity for returning players to reacclimate with the team.
Many new faces added on defense are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from veterans seeking to solidly a growing unit. The addition of new impact players on defense has been a priority for the Chiefs’ front office this offseason. They’ve sought out a certain level of toughness and attitude in their additions through free agency and the draft.
Veterans Chris Jones and Willie Gay were asked to explain the defensive unit’s identity during Wednesday’s press conference. While it’s still quite early, there is one word that Jones feels defines what this defense aspires to be.
“A gritty, gritty(defense), if you want to sum it up in one word,” said Jones, “You’ve got to be a gritty defense, and that’s from the coaching staff to the players on the sideline to the players are starting. There’s got to be grit. Don’t let go of the rope. We’re always fighting. And once we attain that mentality, I think we can push for it from that.”
Gay agreed with Jones’ assessment of the defensive identity, knowing that everyone in the building brings a lot of attitude and swagger.
“Oh, yeah. You know, we played with a lot of swagger,” said Gay. “Just some hard-nosed guys just working hard every day. Just trying to dominate this league each and every week.”
The Chiefs’ defense last season improved every week following a slow start. Jones played effectively at his usual position as an interior lineman and was a work in progress as an EDGE rusher, still collecting nine sacks in 14 games. Gay’s responsibilities continue to grow in his third season after securing 48 tackles and two interceptions in 12 games last year. They’ll be two of the veteran players who demonstrate what being a gritty defense means to the younger players.
“Lead by example, man, lead by example. There’s not much more you can say to encourage guys,” said Jones. “People like action. They see you giving your all, and then that’s when you challenge them to either follow you or take it a step higher. That’s what it’s all about competing with one another, to get the best out of one another.”
The confidence and energy appear to be high for the Chiefs’ veteran defensive unit after two days of minicamp. The influence of the experienced players in the system should help instill the right mentality in the newcomers.