Bootle entered the NFL undrafted out of Nebraska in 2021. He joined the Chiefs in 2021 by way of the practice squad and has been with the team since. Bootle has played in a total of 6 games since joining Kansas City, with his latest game-day action taking place during the Chiefs’ Week 6 loss to the Buffalo Bills, albeit primarily as a special teamer, per Pro Football Reference.
Bootle’s spot on the 53-player roster will likely be filled by rookie first-round pick Trent McDuffie, who began practicing for the first time in Week 6 since being placed on injured reserve on September 13 due to a hamstring injury. McDuffie has not yet been activated from IR but has a 21-day window to be activated from when he began practicing on Wednesday, October 12.
Chiefs Welcome Back Starting LB in Week 7
Week 7 of the regular season brings big news for the Chiefs, as they are welcoming back starting linebacker Willie Gay Jr. Gay was serving a four-game suspension from the NFL stemming from a January arrest due to misdemeanor property damage.
Speaking to the media on October 17, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid talked about Gay returning to the lineup, and the fact that he’s been able to be in the facility the last two weeks as part of the NFL’s protocol for suspended players.
“No, I’m glad that the league lets them back in with the group,” Reid explained during his press conference. “That’s a good place for them to be and stay in tune with the game so when he has an opportunity to get back in, (Willie Gay Jr.) knows what’s going on.
“Things go fast in the National Football League and a week can seem like an eternity. Things change, you’re always growing in certain areas, so to be back in the room, at least you can grow with the guys scheme-wise and do what he can do on the field here – we’ll just see where he’s at on the field this week.”
Bolton Rises to Occasion in Gay’s Absence
During Gay’s four-game suspension, second-year linebacker Nick Bolton raised his play to an even higher level. From Weeks 2-6, Bolton recorded 31 tackles, 14 stops (a play where a defender makes a tackle, and the location of the tackle means the play is a successful one for the defense), and 2 sacks, per PFF.
Reid spoke about what he felt Bolton gained as a player and leader during Gay’s four-game suspension.
“Yeah sure, so (Nick Bolton) Bolt’s got such a good feel for the game that I think you saw even more maybe of his leadership when (Darius) Harris came in, although Harris is very smart too and (Leo) Chenal is (too). That’s a pretty good group there,” Reid said during his October 17 press conference. “But you got to see him perform with other guys and he’s very close with Willie. They’ve known each other a long time so they’re very close and it was just a little different flavor. But still very productive. I think you just adding Willie back in there is another good athlete into that mix and that never hurts. So, we look forward to getting him back in there.”
Gay’s first opportunity to get back into the lineup will be during Kansas City’s Week 7 road game against the 49ers. The game will take place on Sunday, October 23 at 3:25 p.m. CST.