Change is nothing new to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
A year ago, he dedicated his focus to learning a 3-4 scheme designed by former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
After falling to the Patriots in the AFC Championship, coach Andy Reid chose to part ways with Sutton, yet again leading to change with the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo. The outcome resulted in a change to a 4-3 scheme. It’s nothing Hitchens is too concerned about.
“It’s a lot of challenges, but at the end of the day we’ve gotta get it done,” Hitchens said. There’s other teams in the league that’s going through the same things. No one’s gonna feel sorry for us in Week 1. We’ve gotta find a way to get it done, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Since putting on pads for the first time, Hitchens and the defense have focused on improving in live action with the help of an offense led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
In the process, Hitchens has been learning numerous roles, something he had as part of a 4-3 defense with the Dallas Cowboys. There, he started 48 games playing in all three linebacker spots.
Hitchens has worked throughout the offseason and training camp to find a way to be able to fit anywhere as a linebacker if needed.
“I’m sweating and lose about 10 pounds a day when we’re in pads,” Hitchens said. “It’s just more energy, more running, more plays. It’s just different. It’s gonna burn a lot of calories and energy.”
The Chiefs have noticed Hitchens’ effort to grow throughout training camp, something he didn’t have the opportunity to do much due to an injury last year. He went on to play 17 games after missing time in the preseason.
“Hitchens brings a great energy every play everyday, and he’s smart,” Reid said. “He leads the middle of that defense.”
Learning has been a crucial part of Hitchens’ training camp performance. It has led to a natural step up to a leadership position for the second-year Chief.
“I take pride in being a leader. I set the defense and I get everyone lined up,” Hitchens said. “I try to lead by example the right way, on and off the field. (Mathieu and Clark) are the same way — a lot of energy.
Hitchens appreciates the energy of his teammates, but also notes he isn’t the one to show it on the field.
“Everyone leads in different ways. I probably won’t be the one who’s jumping up and down and rah-rahing, but there’s other ways to lead,” Hitchens said. “Mine’s more in the classroom, getting guys right and making sure we perform on Sunday.”