Nick Bolton’s injury is a new wrinkle for KC Chiefs
By Matt Conner
On Wednesday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs released their first injury report before Week 14, a clash against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Several familiar faces were listed once again with the same lingering injuries that have plagued them for weeks, but one new player was atop them all after linebacker Nick Bolton was limited in practice.
Bolton was listed with a groin injury and the fact that he couldn’t participate in all aspects of practice indicates a greater severity compared with other such injuries (e.g. Willie Gay is dealing with the same issue in the same week).
For the Chiefs, the strength of their defense in many games has been found in the young tandem anchoring the middle of the Chiefs’ defense. One year after releasing Anthony Hitchens and watching Ben Niemann leave in free agency, the Chiefs have gotten younger and faster at the position with Bolton taking over Hitch’s role of communication and leadership.
The listing of a groin injury limiting Nick Bolton in practice is a new wrinkle for the Kansas City Chiefs to consider down the stretch.
While Bolton has his weaknesses, the Chiefs will undoubtedly lean on him and Gay in the heart of the defense to take them as far as they can in the postseason. Here the Chiefs are at a pivotal position, then, when it comes to the schedule and the potential for concern given injuries.
This week, the Chiefs visit the Broncos for the first two of two matchups somehow remaining on their regular season schedule. The Broncos are a three-win team who have been out of the divisional race since October. After their first game against Denver, the Chiefs also visit the Houston Texans, who have arguably the single least talented roster in the NFL. These are both games that the Chiefs should win by multiple scores apiece without any real effort.
That said, anything can happen in the NFL and the Chiefs can’t afford to overlook any single game if they want to stay in the race for the top seed in the conference (and its coveted bye week in the Wild Card round). And games against Denver add the rivalry element, a last-place team looking for anything to rally around against a hated foe).
The problem for the Chiefs is that there’s a considerable drop in talent at the position to let either of these guys get too much rest. Darius Harris filled in nicely for Willie Gay to start the year, but opponents know there’s a mismatch there and he was likely the single worst defender on the field on Sunday against the Bengals. Leo Chenal gives the Chiefs another developmental talent at the position for the long-term but he’s only a positive asset in a special teams role.
Only the Chiefs’ coaches and training staff will know how severe the groin injuries are to Bolton and even Gay as well as the potential for things to get worse without rest. But from the outside, these next two games for the Chiefs are imminently winnable and if they can avoid postseason absences by giving a bit of rest now, it might be worth it—even if Bolton and/or Gay would be missed.