Chiefs’ Willie Gay Struggling With Mental Health, Week 5 Debut in Jeopardy

Getty Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before the NFL game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 22, 2020.

Second-year linebacker Willie Gay has been sidelined for the beginning of the 2021 regular season due to a toe injury he suffered during the preseason. And while it looked like he could have made his debut in Week 5 due to him starting to practice again, which opened the 21-day window for him to be activated from injured reserve, it looks like Gay’s debut will be put on hold. But’s it’s not because of his toe injury.

Using Twitter as the platform to share the update, Gay wrote that his mental health is in a bad place, which is why he was excused from practice on Friday, October 8, something that Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid mentioned during his press conference.

“I love you all just know my mental health is F’d up,” Gay wrote.

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Reid’s Update on Gay

Reid didn’t address Gay’s mental health status specifically during his press conference, as Gay did not give a personal update until about 10 minutes after Reid’s presser had ended. However, Big Red responded to a question asking about Gay’s status for Kansas City’s game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football.

“We’ll have to just see how it goes here in the next couple days with that,” Reid said. “As long as he can get in and know his stuff and feels comfortable with his foot, we’d be OK there.”

Reid’s comments still give Gay a chance of playing in Week 5. However, based on Gay’s tweet, that seems like a very short timeframe to get in a positive mental state, putting his playing status for Week 5 in doubt.


Gay Injured During Preseason

Gay suffered a toe injury during the Chiefs’ preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings, which resulted in him landing on injured reserve on September 2, as first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.

During his absence, Gay’s role was filled by rookie linebacker Nick Bolton as well as veteran Ben Niemann. However, they struggled to perform at a high level during the first month of the regular season.

Bolton registered a 46.8 overall grade from PFF, with a 50.0 run defense grade, 59.3 pass-rush grade, and 47.5 coverage grade through the first four weeks of the regular season. As for Niemann, he registered a 43.1 overall grade, 32.8 run defense grade, 65.0 pass-rush grade, and a 50.5 coverage grade. Their struggles, along with poor performances from other positional groups on defense, have led to the Chiefs’ defense being one of the worst units in the NFL this season.

Kansas City’s defense ranks 31st in the league in total points allowed through four weeks (125), 30th in rushing yards allowed (584), and 27th in passing yards allowed (1,167), according to ESPN. They are also 32nd in yards per carry allowed (5.4), and 30th in average yards per completion (8.8).

Most recently, they were carved up by the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4, who had second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts throw for a career-high 387 yards and two touchdowns with zero turnovers. The Eagles’ offense scored a total of 30 points against Kansas City in that game,  despite their offense only averaging 23.5 points per game this season even after the outing against the Chiefs, according to ESPN.

When Gay does in return, he’ll give a big boost to Kansas City’s defense. But at this point, it’s unclear when he will return.

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