One major absence won’t be found on any injured lists, however, and that’s starting linebacker Willie Gay Jr. — who was suspended for four games by the NFL this week for a violation of the league’s conduct policy last January. His Week 3 replacement will be Darius Harris, according to head coach Andy Reid.
Unfortunately for Harris, his debut outing as the starter comes with a massive challenge on paper — pass-catching running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.
Colts Present ‘Big Challenge’ for New Chiefs Starting LB Darius Harris
Chiefs Wire media member Charles Goldman smartly singled out the task during an article that named four KC players to watch versus Indy. One was Harris, as the beat reporter explained the following:
Darius Harris is set to get the first shot at the snaps vacated by suspended LB Willie Gay Jr., and a big part of his role on defense will be pass coverage. The Colts, of course, are one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to utilizing RBs in the passing game. They have Nyheim Hines, who has over 220 career receptions. Even Jonathan Taylor gets involved in the passing game with 40 receptions just last season.
That’s quite the duo to face during your debut audition as the main coverage linebacker. Both are dynamic but Hines is underrated in how shifty he is out of the backfield.
Goldman noted his 220 receptions but the scat back has turned that into 1,624 yards. That’s almost 500 more yards than he has as a runner, by the way.
Hines is the niche weapon but Taylor is the do-it-all playmaker. This entire Steve Spagnuolo defense will prepare for the All-Pro ballcarrier in Week 3 but the linebackers will have the pleasure of shadowing him throughout the game.
Goldman concluded that “it’ll prove to be a big challenge for Harris in his first start of the season, but one that the coaching staff seems to feel he’s ready for.”
Nick Bolton Will Be Key vs Colts
As usual, the emerging leader within this young Chiefs’ defense, middle linebacker Nick Bolton, will be integral to this team’s chance of success in Indianapolis.
Goldman reasoned why, voicing: “The rushing defense has actually been a pleasant surprise for Kansas City through two weeks as they’re allowing just 3.9 yards per carry and only one rushing score on the season. No matter their performance so far, they’ll have their hands full with Colts RB Jonathan Taylor in Week 3. He earned the NFL rushing title last season, leading the league in yards, touchdowns and attempts at the position. Bolton will be the one tasked with slowing down Taylor, both on an individual level and a group level. He’ll deliver the play calls to the defense, but he’s also the team’s best run-defender. Getting Taylor on the ground before he gets a full head of steam will be key.”
Like his new running mate, Harris, it’ll be no walk in the park for Bolton in Week 3. Taylor already has 215 rushing yards in two games — and you might say that he hasn’t even scratched the surface of his 2021 campaign just yet.
If the Chiefs can slow these two running backs both in the ground game and the passing attack, it’s hard not to like their chances. Colts quarterback Matt Ryan has already thrown four interceptions in his first two outings, with a 60% completion rate and a quarterback rating of 31.4 on Pro Football Reference.