Chiefs Rookie Review, Week 4: Wharton, Townsend shine vs. Patriots

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 10: Tommy Townsend #5 of the Kansas City Chiefs wears Stop Hate on the back of his helmet during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 10: Tommy Townsend #5 of the Kansas City Chiefs wears Stop Hate on the back of his helmet during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Willie Gay, Jr.

Twitter was abuzz on Monday night when we learned that the Chiefs second-round pick Willie Gay, Jr. was warming up with the ‘1’s’ during pregame at Arrowhead Stadium. This was huge news for the linebacker as to this point in his young career, he had been mostly unproductive and had certainly never sniffed the starting lineup.

When the game kicked off, lo and behold, the former Mississippi State standout was in fact in the starting lineup for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

While Gay did not play a majority of the snaps (not unusual for Chiefs linebackers), he did play on 33% of defensive snaps (25 total) and also kept his normal role on special teams, playing 16 snaps at a 70% clip. That 41 snap total tied Edwards-Helaire for the most snaps by rookies in the game.

This may not seem significant, but what it indicates is that Gay’s athleticism is finally being utilized, hopefully because he is catching up on the playbook and scheme. Even though his athleticism is too great to continue keeping him on the bench, he’s got to catch up on the defensive playbook to make a true impact and to hopefully, one day, takeover as the linebacking corps leader for this team.

Handing out game grades from Chiefs-Patriots. dark. Next