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Reggie Ragland credited Derrick Johnson for success even before Chiefs moved on

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Now, is he ready to lead?

NFL: NOV 26 Bills at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thursday morning’s article from Al.com reminded me of some notable quotes from linebacker Reggie Ragland first obtained by Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star back in early January.

Remember Ragland’s history—he was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round at No. 41 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, then tore his ACL in training camp, missing his entire rookie season. The Chiefs traded a fourth-rounder for Ragland in late August of 2017, essentially making that year his rookie season.

Ragland started slow but improved as it went on, and he earned more playing time because of it. Ragland was on the field for 70 percent of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps in their lone playoff game.

And who did he credit for that success?

Well, you already know.

“I give a lot of credit to D.J., man,” Ragland said, per Paylor. “He’s helped me develop into a player and man off the field also.”

“Man, anytime you’ve got a potential Hall of Famer in the same room as you, of course, you’ve got to listen to what he says. He’s got over 1,200 tackles, the most tackles in franchise history, so why not listen to a guy like that? He’s got more knowledge of the game than I do, so I try to soak in everything he speaks.”

In the Star’s article, Paylor dives into the friendship that developed between Ragland and Johnson as the year went on. It started with liking the same movies and extended to the film room, where they made it a habit to put in extra time every week.

Johnson played with the Chiefs for 13 years and while he stuck, the linebackers next to him rarely could say the same.

“I’ve been through a lot of ‘Mike’ backers, a lot of guys that come in and come out,” Johnson said. “And it’s like, ‘You’re not listening.’”

Johnson said Ragland was different. He listened and listened intently.

We now know that Johnson won’t be next to the 24-year-old Ragland next season. It will thus be up to him to pass the lessons he learned onto those around him.

He will be called upon to be a leader.

“I always try to say little stuff, like, ‘Man I appreciate you guys, love you guys, man,’ and they’re like, ‘Ugh, stop being sensitive,’” he said. “But I always try to say I love these guys, man, because it’s a brotherhood, and to win football games, you’ve got to be like brothers.”

As of early January, it sounded like he was on the right track. Of course, he learned from one of the best.