Chiefs Announce 2 Signings After Multiple Season-Ending Injuries

Nazeeh Johnson

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Nazeeh Johnson has torn his ACL and will miss the 2023 season.

Training camp injuries are the worst. Just as Kansas City Chiefs second-year cornerback Nazeeh Johnson began to show noticeable signs development during practices, he suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for the 2023 season.

Sam McDowell of The Kansas City Star reported on the unfortunate turn of events, relaying: “Nazeeh Johnson tore his ACL. A shame. He has really climbed the depth chart at cornerback this summer and training camp.”

Later, KC Sports Network insider Charles Goldman noted that, sadly, Johnson wasn’t alone. “Both Chiefs CB Nazeeh Johnson and LB Isaiah Moore were placed on injured reserve officially, ending their 2023 NFL seasons,” he stated. “The team signed CB Anthony Witherstone and TE Izaiah Gathings to fill the vacant spots on the 90-man roster.”

Anthony Witherstone Returns at CB After Chiefs Lose Nazeeh Johnson

The Johnson injury is truly a tough pill to swallow. The 2022 seventh rounder was getting snaps with the first-team defense throughout the early stages of camp, and he was also special teams coordinator Dave Toub’s number one gunner on punt coverage.

Johnson was even getting some hype as a “riser” on the depth chart — seemingly pushing fellow second-year CBs Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams for snaps. The competition would have likely been great for the development of all three youngsters, but instead, KC will take an early depth hit here on July 30.

As one door closes, however, another opens. This will be the second opportunity for Witherstone in Kansas City.

The Merrimack UDFA weighs in at six feet tall and 189 pounds, and “was primarily an outside cornerback” in college according to team reporter Matt McMullen.

Witherstone “turned in strong campaigns in each of the last two seasons, surrendering a passer rating of 76.0 or lower in both,” McMullen went on. “He broke up six passes and tallied two pick-sixes in 2021 before recording four passes defensed and one interception as a senior.”

After making a few plays during Organized Team Activities this spring, the Chiefs elected to release Witherstone to make room for undrafted wide receiver Kekoa Crawford. He’ll once again battle for a practice squad role within this young CB room.

Chiefs Lose Another Promising Talent in Isaiah Moore, Target Former Jets UDFA Izaiah Gathings

Like Johnson, Moore had been getting a lot of attention for his standout play this spring and summer before his injury. Goldman first predicted that the UDFA linebacker “could force some tough decisions” during the roster cutdown.

Not long after, KSHB41’s Nick Jacobs projected that Moore would make the initial 53-man roster. Unfortunately, fate had other plans for the promising rookie linebacker.

This time, the Chiefs signed wide receiver/tight end Izaiah Gathings in less of a one-for-one swap at the same position. The Middle Tennessee State product managed to land his first rookie contract after a successful tryout with the New York Jets, but he didn’t last with Gang Green.

He’s another hybrid tight end that makes his living as a pass-catcher rather than a blocker — similar to Jody Fortson before his development. “[Gathings] finished second on the team with 60 receptions for 559 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games (11 starts) last year” according to NYJ team reporter Ethan Greenberg. “Gathings had 24 receptions, 302 yards and 1 touchdown in 2021, his first season with the Blue Raiders. He began his college career at Gardner-Webb, totaling 101 receptions, 1,341 yards and 13 scores.”

Pro Football Network scouting expert Tony Pauline described him as a “nice-sized wideout coming off a career season” ahead of the draft.

“Settles into the open spot of the field, extends his hands, and snatches the ball away from his frame,” Pauline continued. “Adjusts to the errant throw on crossing patterns, makes the reception in stride, and keeps the play in bounds after the catch. Displays soft, consistent hands. Tough to bring down in the open field.”

His major weaknesses, per Pauline, were his “limited quickness” and unproven track record — although the position change to tight end could help explain both of those concerns.

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