After last summer’s organized team activities were cancelled due to the pandemic, the Chiefs’ 2020 rookie class didn’t have a chance to get acclimated to the organization before training camp.
Linebacker Willie Gay said it was tough for him and the other rookies last summer.
“To only see the playbook for the first time during training camp, it was hard,” Gay said. “To get that head start now with OTAs and minicamp, it’s definitely helping a lot.”
The 2020 rookie class will finally get their opportunity to participate this summer, as it is among the group making its first appearance in the Chiefs’ OTAs.
Gay was one of the Chiefs’ biggest contributors from the 2020 class along their run to a second-consecutive Super Bowl. Gay, along with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, is participating in his first OTAs after missing out last year.
“I’m catching on to the things that I didn’t catch on to last year,” Gay said. “I learned the basics, now it’s the small details that makes good, great.”
With a season of NFL action under his belt, Gay said he’s using his experiences this offseason to improve in areas which he struggled in his rookie season.
“All I want to do is just my job, be able to be counted on,” Gay said. “Whether it’s tackling, whether it’s covering guys, blitzing, just continue to improve each and every day on the details of plays and execute every little detail that I do have.”
Another group making its first appearance in the Chiefs’ OTAs is the 2021 rookie class. One in particular that is expected to make an immediate impact is former Mizzou linebacker Nick Bolton.
Gay said he has already struck up a great relationship with the rookie linebacker.
“It’s my second year, it’s his first year, so we’re both really fresh in this thing,” Gay said. “Whatever I learn, I pass it down to him, and whatever I’ve been through, I pass it down to him, so we’ve continued to stay close… It’s a good connection we have.”
Bolton joins other 2021 draftees that are expected to make an immediate impact, namely offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith.
“They’re two good, young football players,” head coach Andy Reid said. “They’re smart kids, and they’re learning, on top of that, the offense, and they’ve got some good veteran players around them.”
Offensive lineman Joe Thuney is one of the veterans that have guided the young rookies throughout the team’s summer workouts so far. Thuney himself is an offseason addition that is participating in Chiefs OTAs for the first time.
Thuney was an All-Pro lineman and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. He said he’s been impressed with his time in Kansas City so far.
“The organization is top class,” Thuney said. “The locker room is a really hard working group, I think everyone just wants to try to take steps and make progress, myself included.”
Thuney is one of many offensive line additions that have highlighted the Chiefs’ offseason so far. One aspect that has been slightly overlooked, though, is the addition of defensive lineman Jarran Reed to bolster the Chiefs’ already stout defensive front.
A five-year veteran out of Alabama, Reed has spent the entirety of his career to this point with the Seattle Seahawks.
“We’re meshing together well,” Reed said. “They’re bringing me along fast. It’s a great group of guys, and I’m excited to see what we can do this season.”
Coming to join the team this offseason, Reed said he was familiar with the Chiefs from watching film, and their reputation precedes themselves.
“Everybody watches the Chiefs,” Reed said. “They’re good. It’s the same thing of what I expected.”
Phase three of Chiefs OTAs concludes this week with mandatory minicamp beginning next week.