Chiefs Kingdom cannot see Willie Gay Jr. return soon enough to the field, but when he arrives, the story for Anthony Hitchens is going to change.
The selection of Nick Bolton as this year’s second round selection was largely seen as a chance for him to serve as Hitchens’ understudy in his rookie season. Next to Gay, Bolton would help reform a new dynamic duo in the heart of a Chiefs defense more often in pass-heavy sub packages than not (meaning only two LBs would be needed).
The injury to Gay has changed things a bit in terms of early season expectations. Opposing teams are also playing the Chiefs differently enough to make more demands of linebackers. That means Bolton is getting plenty of time next to Hitchens along with Ben Niemann. So even when Gay is back, we still might see plenty of the trio in weeks to come.
The results have not been good for Hitchens thus far (but that can be said of the entire defense, to be fair). But what’s important to note here is that Hitchens is in a contract year of sorts, one in which he’s likely going to be a free agent next year as the Chiefs cut costs, and a strong showing in red and gold in 2021 could go a long way toward earning the trust of a future employer.
Before Willie Gay returns, Hitchens should take advantage of the playing time he’s getting and prove he’s still got something left in the tank. The Eagles could be a nice exhibition for him.