The Kansas City Chiefs gained a greater understanding of the scope of linebacker Nick Bolton's injury on Monday. According to NFL reporter Tom Pelissero, surgery will be required for Bolton's wrist going forward, and the timeline for his return is approximately two months.
Bolton was injured during the fourth quarter of the Chiefs' victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, who were visiting Arrowhead Stadium in Week 7, when trying to tackle wide receiver Keenan Allen late in the game. He came up screaming in pain while clutching his hand/wrist and the team took him back to the locker room at that point.
Some early optimism about Bolton's potential to return sooner than later is now lost in the wake of the news of surgery. Initially, the Chiefs even designated Bolton as questionable to return in Week 7, but a two-month timeline will put Bolton until perhaps Week 15 on December 18 against the New England Patriots or a Christmas Day matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Chiefs are going to be without the heart and soul of their defense for the next several games.
The Chiefs have already played a few games (and won) without Bolton in the lineup already this season as he dealt with an ankle injury that kept him out from Weeks 3-5. He returned in Week 6 to play against the Denver Broncos but will now be out again for the majority of the year.
The upside here is that the Chiefs are in much better shape than most teams would be with such an injury. Drue Tranquill, Leo Chenal, and Willie Gay Jr. still provide a solid base although further injuries would create serious issues here. Then again, that's true for most teams if a key player was sidelined for a longer period of time. Backup linebackers on the roster include Cam Jones and Jack Cochrane.
Bolton was one of two second-round picks for the Chiefs in the 2021 NFL Draft—along with center Creed Humphrey. He immediately became an impact player for the defense and a starter in the middle tasked with communication and leadership in Steve Spagnuolo's system.
Last year, Bolton led the team with 180 total tackles and added 2 sacks and 3 passes deflected in '22.