The Kansas City Chiefs used to have a player with the moniker of a wild animal. Due to his speed, Tyreek Hill often referred to himself as the “Cheetah.”
Now it appears a new beast has emerged in 2022 — although this nickname was suggested by head coach Andy Reid. During his Monday press conference on November 21, Big Red likened linebacker Nick Bolton to a “tiger” on the field, which was also his alma mater’s mascot at Missouri.
“He doesn’t talk a whole lot — he’s a quiet guy,” Reid explained. “But on the field, he gets you to where you’re supposed to be, and he does it with authority and he plays like crazy. He plays like a tiger, doggonit.”
Nick Bolton Becoming One of the NFL’s Top Linebackers
Week 11 was a perfect example of how impactful Bolton can be. He finished with 14 total tackles, one pass defense, a forced fumble, and the game-clinching interception that came off a tipped ball. It was a stellar outing, but it’s the “tiger’s” consistency that makes him a step above other linebackers around the league.
On the year, Bolton has five double-digit tackle performances with only one game under eight tackles. That brings his season total to 112 combined tackles with 11 for a loss. Against the run, the rising star has an average depth of tackle of 3.4 yards allowed, which ranks tied for 19th in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (minimum 50% of snaps played).
If you’re a fan of grades, Bolton’s 78.7 overall from PFF ranks ninth at his position. He is also the youngest linebacker that finds himself inside the top 10.
Reid credited Bolton’s maturity to former team leader Anthony Hitchens. “Hitch is another one of those guys that helped Bolton out, just on being a pro on and off the field,” the Chiefs HC told reporters. “Bolton’s just carried [Hitchens’ preparation] up another notch, he prepares like crazy.”
At just 22 years of age, Bolton’s ascension isn’t just impressive to watch, but it’s also really really exciting. Sporting Tyrann Mathieu’s old number 32 jersey, the MIKE-backer should be at the center of this unit for years to come.
Lucas Niang Expected to Rejoin the Active Roster
Media members also asked Reid about the outlook of offensive tackle Lucas Niang, whose 21-day practice window ends this week. If the Chiefs do not shift the blocker to the active roster, they’ll be forced to place him on the injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
The good news is, that appears highly unlikely based on Reid’s answer.
“We’ll talk on that and just see where we’re at with that,” Reid began. “He’s made some nice progress over the last couple of weeks and I’m not telling you that he’d be the starter, but I think he’s ready to get in probably the two-deep.”
Folks, if we’re even discussing the potential of Niang starting, that’s a great sign that the O-tackle will be activated this week — and the Chiefs could certainly use him with Andrew Wylie and Orlando Brown Jr. struggling this season. As always, we will keep you posted on any roster moves that may occur before Kansas City’s upcoming matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.