Frank Clark inspired to mentor Chiefs rookie DE George Karlaftis

If you were at training camp this past week and stayed late after practice, you might have noticed Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark staying late afterward to work with the team’s rookies.

One of Clark’s goals this year, apart from getting his health and mental on track, is to be the best possible teammate he can be. Part of that means spending some extra time to help ensure that the incoming rookies are prepared and have all the tools they need to be successful.

“We got some young guys in,” Clark told reporters on Saturday. “I got George (Karlaftis) who’s a first-round guy who’s got to be ready to play. So at the end of the day, part of the things I’m doing at practice is helping him understand the system faster. As a rookie, I know how tough it can be coming in when you got all these different things going on. You got people – your family, friends – they (are) all on your back and stuff like that. And for a guy like George, a Big 10 guy, I’m a Michigan guy, so we got that Big 10 bond. I just want to see him be successful. When he lines up on the other side of me, inside, wherever he lines up, I just want to see him be successful at the end of the day.”

Clark is prideful that the young players look to him for guidance. He came into the Seattle Seahawks organization a year after back-to-back Super Bowl appearances when their defense was known as the Legion of Boom. He learned from veterans like Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, who he could rely on for advice, but also to let him know when he was doing something wrong.

“(Michael Bennett), he used to come to me and say, ‘Hey, man, you ain’t getting off the ball fast enough.’ Cliff (Avril) would come to me. . .  like, ‘You’ve got to bend that corner bro, turn that toe. I don’t care if you gotta break your toe and bend that corner, knees have to touch the ground.’ . . . I thank my older guys for being that hard on me because it gave me clarity on how to be a vet. It gave me clarity on how to work our rookies and bring them in.”

Now, entering his eighth NFL season, Clark is following in their footsteps as a mentor. He’s especially become attached to George Karlaftis, who he describes as one of his favorite rookies he’s ever worked with.

“Yeah, George (Karlaftis) is dope,” Clark said. “George is a dope rookie. He’s one of the more– he listens. I honestly like him, he’s a favorite for me, one of my favorite rookies ever because he listens and he wants to be good. He wants to figure it out. He understands like it’s a different game. He understands there’s a different twitch in the NFL. It’s a whole different (beast), you’ve got to understand things.”

In Karlaftis’ effort to get a better understanding of certain things about the NFL game, he comes to Clark with certain questions. Clark shared an example with reporters.

“I was teaching him today, he asked a question about getting off the ball,” Clark explained. “He noticed that I fly off the ball, I fly. He asked, ‘Bro, what are you looking at?’ I explained to him some different keys — obviously, I can’t speak on them — but I explained to him some different keys and he came back to me. I was just sitting there zoned out, looking at the sky, I’d just come off the field at the end of practice. . . he comes running over to me like, ‘Bro, I did it!’ I’m like, ‘What dude?’ He scared me. He’s like, ‘Bro, I did it. I did what you told me to do.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, cool! Alright!'”

For Clark, it was exciting to see his advice having a positive impact on Karlaftis just Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett’s advice helped him as a rookie.

“It’s just the fact that he came over, so excited,” Clark concluded. “It’s like, going into my eighth year, it’s the most excited I’ve seen a rookie. Basically, his ability to retain the knowledge that I was telling him and for him to go and do it and feel it and see the success from it, I was happy to enjoy (the fruits of his labor).”


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Story originally appeared on Chiefs Wire