Red Zone

The Chiefs and NFL by beat writer Terez Paylor

Chiefs’ inside linebacker competition should be interesting

05/17/2013 9:38 AM

05/20/2014 10:45 AM

One of the most interesting competitions that should develop at training camp is at one inside linebacker position, the spot next to Derrick Johnson. For now, veteran Akeem Jordan is the starter. Jordan was a part-time starter for Andy Reid the last few years with the Eagles, and don’t discount that experience as a factor when the Chiefs make a decision who will start in the Sept. 8 opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

But also don’t underestimate what the Chiefs think of rookie Nico Johnson, a fourth-round draft pick from Alabama. Johnson was used mostly on run downs in college, so he needs to learn to play in pass coverage. But already, Johnson has the look of a quick-study.

“The transition has been kind of easy, being able to play under Coach Saban the past four years,’’ Johnson said, referring to Alabama coach Nick Saban. “The terminology is a little different. That’s kind of what I’m struggling with now, but I’m learning as I go, but each and every day is getting easier and easier.’’

Working alongside Derrick Johnson, a consummate pro, won’t hurt Nico Johnson, either.

“He’s really the first player out of the Chiefs roster to hit me up on Twitter and just tell me congratulations and that it’s time to get to work,’’ Nico Johnson said. “I felt that as motivation to want to go out and do my best and show them I’m willing to work.

“He’s been in that situation before. He’s just trying to keep me and the other linebackers motivated to get better every day. I understand you’re going to make mistakes and just keep moving forward and getting ready for camp.’’


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