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Chiefs LB Leo Chenal says his fire and physicality comes from his family

The rookie Kansas City linebacker has made quite an impression during his first week with the team.

NCAA Football: Army at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

New Kansas City Chiefs rookie linebacker Leo Chenal made quite an impression when he appeared at a fan event earlier this week — when Chiefs Radio Network play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus asked him what he brings to the table.

“Violence and physicality man. That’s it!” the former Wisconsin Badger declared to the crowd — which roared with delight. “I’m addicted to hitting people. I love it! I can’t get enough.”

To Kansas City’s third-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, it all comes naturally. He grew up in a family of 16 children: eight sisters and seven brothers.

“Just having all those brothers and sisters, you have to be the most physical,” he told reporters during the team’s rookie minicamp on Saturday. “You have to be the toughest — or else you’re going to get beat up. It’s just kind of having that competitive and tough mindset with that big family. And they kind of pushed me throughout my whole life.”

In fact, his brother John — a Wisconsin fullback — also entered this year’s draft. Although he wasn’t drafted, he did receive (and accept) an invitation to the New York Jets’ rookie minicamp. And like his brother Leo, he’s been through the fire of the Chenal family.

“He’s a tough kid,” said the new Chief — and then corrected himself. “A tough guy. I shouldn’t say ‘kid.’ If he sees this, he’ll beat me up.”

So far, garnering applause from fans (and laughter from reporters) has been easy for Chenal. But he readily acknowledged there is plenty of work to do with his new team.

“[I’m] just learning a new scheme,” he noted. “I came out of a 3-4, [while] this is a 4-3. So I always [have to be] open, ask a ton of questions, [take] a ton of notes. Every single guy in here is taking as many notes as they can. We’re all fighting for a spot.”

Chenal said that while he expects to play a different position later, he’ll be working as a MIKE linebacker, wearing the green dot during the minicamp.

“SAM is what they told me initially,“ he revealed. “During this camp, I’ll be taking all the MIKE reps — just to learn that position, be able to call the plays and stuff like that. But I think I’ll eventually be moving to SAM — maybe backing up MIKE as well.”

And despite all the work — and all the information he now has to absorb in a short time — Chenal sounded happy to have found his home at the next level of the game.

“It feels pretty cool,” he said. “A lot is being thrown at us right now. We just had a walk-through. so it’s a lot of information; I’m trying to get things down as quickly as I can.

“But it felt pretty good to get back on the field, for sure.”

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