Chiefs vs Lions: Nick Bolton expects Jahmyr Gibbs to be a factor

Nick Bolton says he expects the Lions to test their new weapon early and often.
Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs makes a catch during the Lions' joint practice with the Jaguars on
Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs makes a catch during the Lions' joint practice with the Jaguars on / Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions are hoping to put a longstanding reputation behind them in 2023. They have an incredible opportunity to change perception overnight with a visit to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

The NFL season opens up in just a few days when the Chiefs host the visiting Lions, and for the home team, it's the start of their title defense and the commemoration of their most recent Super Bowl win—complete with banner night and all. But all of the pomp and pageantry is only extra fuel for a Lions team that would love to thwart the home crowd's optimism and passion with a shocking road win.

The Lions look like a team reborn under head coach Dan Campbell. Last year, the team finished in second place in the NFC North after four consecutive seasons in last place. They had their first winning record at 2017 and experienced a 5.5 game turnaround from Campbell's first year. For a team that hasn't finished in first place in their division since 1993, it was a major achievement.

Now with another offseason of new acquisitions to the roster, the Lions have hopes of actually turning into a contender and that begins by showing what they can do against the NFL's elite. Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton says the team is well aware of what the Lions are capable of and that one player in particular has gotten their attention.

Jahmyr Gibbs was the Lions first-round pick at No. 12 overall and provided them with a new weapon at running back who can be utilized in a number of ways in the offense. Bolton said the tape is limited on Gibbs at this point as a rookie coming into Week 1, so they're just hoping they can stop him with what they know.

"You can watch the tape and tell he’s dynamic," said Bolton in his media session with reporters on Sunday. "Speed is definitely his friend. He’s able to get the ball and take it upfield. One cut and it could be a house call, you know, so we understand the challenge up ahead of us. He doesn’t have much tape out there, so we don’t know how he’s going to be used or how they’ll use him early, but we expect them to get him a lot of touches early to get him involved and try to see what he can do with the football."

Gibbs was a former star for Georgia Tech before transferring to Alabama for the 2022 season in which he became an all-around weapon for the Crimson Tide as a returner as well as receiver and rusher. He finished the season with 10 touchdowns and nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage.

The Chiefs will also be without pass rusher Charles Omenihu and most likely defensive tackle Chris Jones as well which only makes the defensive line that much weaker up front against the rushing attack of Gibbs and David Montgomery.

Bolton and the Chiefs' lauded linebacking corps is going to remain very busy on Thursday night. But Bolton says they relish the challenge. The narratives could be quite different as of Friday morning, but the Lions will have to prove themselves first.