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Chiefs high on Dorian O’Daniel at nickel linebacker position

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So is our own analyst, Shawn Barber, who played the position for 10 years

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs placed linebacker Terrance Smith on injured reserve Tuesday, potentially opening the door for rookie Dorian O’Daniel, who earned a career-high 24 defensive snaps last game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

O’Daniel also recorded four solo tackles, including a nasty, clean tackle for loss on running back Joe Mixon in the game.

“We’ve been kind of increasing him as we go here,” head coach Andy Reid said on Monday. “We’ve given him more practice reps with it and so on and one of his strengths is that. I think as we go he’ll continue to get more play. He can run is what he can do, and you see that he’s a violent tackler.”

O’Daniel could fit right into the lineup, especially given how often opposing teams (and really, the Chiefs themselves) seem to be passing the ball in today’s NFL.

“I think more than linebacker, that nickel linebacker position, depending on down and distance, yes—that’s that position,” Reid added. “Daniel Sorensen has been in there. We have kind of mixed a few guys in there. I think that is where you’d picture him doing his thing.”

Our own in-house analyst, former Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber, played the position himself, so I asked him about it on Arrowhead Pride Radio (Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on 610 Sports Radio).

“That position was my home—that was my home base,” Barber said. “I made a 10-year career out of playing that nickel-kinda safety-slash-star-joker, whatever you want to call it. Every coordinator calls it a different position but basically what they’re saying is, ‘I ain’t big enough to be a run-down linebacker and I’m a little bit too big to be a big safety, so they take advantage of my cover abilities, my covering skills and take away some of their best running backs.”

Barber likes what O’Daniel, who the Chiefs selected with the 100th overall pick in the third round of last year’s NFL Draft, has to offer.

“DOD, that’s my dude,” Barber said. “I told him when they got him from the draft, I consider him a better version of myself. I see a lot of the movement skills, I see a lot of the quick hips, the flexibility. I see the fact that he anticipates the ball well, comes up and hits with a punch—his bark is as strong as his bite is...DOD is going to definitely master that position. He’ll know what to do in that position. He also plays a hell of a down on special teams and coverage teams.”

Barber and I discuss more about O’Daniel, the Patrick Peterson rumors the O-line injuries and more on this week’s edition of Arrowhead Pride Radio. If you can’t see the player below, click here.