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Nick Bolton confirms Chiefs’ defensive players also collaborating this offseason

2021’s Mack Lee Hill award-winner for rookie of the year spoke to the media on Monday.

NFL: JAN 16 AFC Wild Card - Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton spoke with the media via Zoom on Monday after the start of the team’s offseason program. Bolton’s comments were the first real indicator of what the team’s defensive players have been up to since the season ended.

In the past couple of weeks, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has frequently shared social media updates showing him working in Texas with many of the offensive skill players. Bolton was asked if the defense has done anything similar.

Bolton confirmed, discussing working out with the team’s fellow linebackers, including two new faces.

“There’s been a couple of times,” Bolton explained, “I work out at the facility. There’s been a couple of guys there. I’ve worked out with Willie (Gay). I know Jermaine (Carter) got in today, also Elijah Lee got in today. I’m looking forward to working out with those guys.”

Bolton also has spent some time this offseason with the team’s biggest defensive addition, safety Justin Reid.

“In the offseason, I was actually in Arizona,” Bolton recalled, “Justin Reid was down there; we had a couple of guys. So we all get work in. We don’t really post on social media, but we’re all getting work in together. Trying to improve and trying to reach the goal at the end of the year and hoist up the trophy.”

One player Bolton will not be preparing for the season with is fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whom the Chiefs released in February after four seasons with the team. Bolton said that the two remain close as Hitchens continues to search for a new team.

“Me and Hitch — we’re still in constant communication,” Bolton confirmed. “That’s my guy. He’s one of those guys that when I came in, open arms. He helped me learn. Kind of taught me the ins and outs of the industry. Probably at least once a month I check in on him. We’ve been talking throughout the offseason. I was sad to see him go, but I know he’s cheering me on. I’m cheering him on. The best of luck to him — if he comes back here or finds another team.”

Coming off of a highly successful rookie year in which he lead the team with 112 tackles, Bolton knows much more will be expected of him as he enters his second season.

“It’s hard to replace a guy like Hitch,” he admitted. “It’ll be up to me and Willie to kind of help out and be vocal where we can be, (but) not overstepping. Let it come naturally. That’s kind of what we’re doing heading forward. Just trying to put our best foot forward every single day and see where it takes us.”

While some new players have been added, the team’s linebacker schemes are set to be built around Bolton and Gay — who is entering his third season. Both players are former second-round draft picks. Bolton appreciates the opportunity to be paired with another top young talent in the linebacker room.

“It’s always great working with a person like Willie,” Bolton expressed. “I know he’s going to come in every single day and push me to be the best version of myself. That goes along with everybody in the linebacker room — we know we’re going to push each other to be the best versions of ourselves day in, day out.

“That’s what it takes to be great in this league. We’re pushing each other, we’re pushing our group. We’re all trying to get to the same goal: to be the best versions of ourselves. For our team, our defense, our linebacker room, and our coaches. That’s our focus point. That’s what we’re going to try to do in these next couple of phases.”

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