The Kansas City Chiefs are one linebacker away from perhaps having the best linebacking core in the NFL.
Rookie Nico Johnson wants to be that linebacker.
The Chiefs already sport a unit full of Pro Bowlers in their 304 defense. Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali are already big NFL stars and Justin Houston, who was elected to his first Pro Bowl last season, seems on the verge of joining them.
The Chiefs drafted former Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson in hopes of finding a replacement for former Chief Jovan Belcher, who tragically murdered his girlfriend before taking his own life at the team facility last season.
Nico Johnson says the KC veterans are helping him along.
“Derrick (Johnson) and Justin (Houston) are holding me to a high standard, so I don’t have any choice but to get better,” said Johnson to the media after a recent practice. “It’s going well; I’m having fun going out and competing every day.”
Johnson is only a couple of weeks into his first NFL training camp but the rookie says he already feels comfortable on the field with his new teammates.
I was in my comfort zone (when we put the pads on), I feel more comfortable now than when I first got here,” said Johnson. “I’m more confident in Bob (Sutton) is teaching, and what Gibbs is teaching; now I’m just trying to go out, earn a spot and keep competing every day to get better.”
Johnson will have to fight veteran Akeem Jordan for a starting role and while he is currently listed behind Jordan on the first official depth chart, the rookie has seen some first team reps.
” Yesterday I was going with the (first team defense) a couple of times with the ones sub, so I have to be on top of my game because you never know what can happen,” said Johnson. Every opportunity I get, I have to take advantage of it.”
Friday night, when the Chiefs travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, Johnson will get his chance.
“I’m very excited; it’s going to be something special to me. Not a lot of people get this opportunity; once I put that jersey on in the Superdome, I’m going to be proud. I’m going to go out and do everything it takes for my team to get the win.”