According to Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star, the K.C. Chiefs put out word that second-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is in the league’s concussion protocol after leaving training camp practice early on Wednesday.
By all accounts, Gay has looked electric in his first full NFL training camp after missing out last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gay has caught a couple interceptions in early practices during the first week of camp and has looked the part as an Uber-athletic linebacker with the size and speed to be a difference maker in the heart of the Chiefs defense.
The Chiefs originally drafted Gay in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft as a projectable linebacker with high upside out of Mississippi State. Last season he struggled to get on the field early and looked overmatched at times given the leap in competition and the complexity of NFL schemes. Yet much of that was predicted by draft analysts who knew that Gay just needed more time to develop and learn before his instincts could truly kick in.
This offseason, the Chiefs drafted another linebacker in the second round in Missouri’s Nick Bolton, which gives the team a dynamic young tandem in the second level. Bolton has also looked very solid early in camp, and he should stand out even more with the pads on now—which the Chiefs could add at practice starting on Tuesday.
Together with Anthony Hitchens, the Chiefs are going to have more talent at linebacker than they have had for a few years now, perhaps as far back as when Derrick Johnson was playing for the team.
Willie Gay had 39 total tackles in 16 games played last season with the Chiefs, including one start. He had 3 tackles for loss and 3 passes deflected and 1 sacks last year as well.