The Kansas City Chiefs rookies have been practicing for three days with only a handful of veterans on hand and despite the fact that the rest of the team arrives today, linebacker Nico Johnson expects things to stay the same.
“A lot of the older guys expect a lot from us just like the coaches do,” said Johnson. “We’re holding ourselves to a higher standard out here as rookies. Once everybody comes it won’t be anything different because we’ve been holding ourselves to that standard for the past three days. It won’t be any different. The tempo will be a little different, that’s it.”
Johnson is in a unique position. The Chiefs’ other starting ILB position next to Pro Bowler, Derrick Johnson, is wide open. The Chiefs brought in linebacker Akeem Jordan in free agency but the veteran hasn’t played well enough during his career to guarantee himself a starting role. The departure of Brandon Siler in free agency and the unfortunate suicide of former starter Jovan Belcher mean that ILB is one of the biggest holes on the Chiefs’ roster.
Johnson likely hopes to fill that role but for now, he is keeping a level head and says he hasn’t been promised anything.
“We haven’t talked about it,” said Johnson when asked if the Chiefs’ coaches told him he’d have a chance to start. “The only thing is that they are pushing me to be my best. That’s the only thing I’m taking from that. Going out and doing my best and everything else will take care of itself. That’s the only thing I can control. I can’t control what the coach’s do, just what I can and that’s what I’m going to do.”
No doubt head coach Andy Reid is hoping Johnson will seize the opportunity and the starting role. For now, however, it is good to see the rookie is keeping his head down and staying humble.