Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton was among the players to speak from the final practice at the team’s training camp at Missouri Western State University. The second-year pro appreciated being able to see things a second time around with a season’s worth of experience.
“I think it was a great camp for me,” Bolton claimed. “I kind of stepped into a leadership role calling plays on the defense. [I’m] kind of getting more comfortable with what [Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] likes to call in certain situations. I didn’t have that last year.
“I’m still a young guy — it’s my second year. Just getting the respect of those older vets and trying to put them in a position to compete out there and have fun, I feel like this camp has been very beneficial for me.
After the Chiefs released veteran Anthony Hitchens in February, Bolton will now directly receive play calls from coaches — signified by the famous green dot on his helmet. Though he stepped up in relief of Hitchens last season, the role was still meaningful to Bolton in last Saturday’s 19-14 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.
“I had it last year [at times],” he recalled, “but I had it for the start of the [Chicago Bears] game. [I] kind of got the flow of the game as the game goes on — rather than having it in certain situations. So, I liked it. It was fun out there. [It was] good to put on the pads and go out there and have fun with your boys. I look forward for this week as well.”
As Bolton’s role in the locker room magnifies, he has no doubt who taught him the most about leadership.
“My dad did,” he declared. “He kind of set the example for me and my brothers. I’m one of five boys, so it’s always one of those things that I kind of grew up with. I understand how to be a leader, I do stuff the right way.
“Not necessarily always just yelling, being the most vocal guy, kind of leading by example and doing a little bit of everything. So that’s where I learned it from and that transcended and got to go a little bit further as the steps go along the way and I embrace my role here.”
As one of the faces of a largely revamped defense, Bolton is ready to help forge the unit’s next identity.
“It’s an attitude defense,” he explained. “We want to have an attitude. We’re all going to play together. We’re young, so we’re not going to be perfect every single play. We can make it up with running around, having fun, speed to the ball, getting a little bit of hands on the ball, [and] creating turnovers. Just having fun and having juice.
“That’s our creed going into the season. We’re going to run around, have fun, and have an attitude defense this year for sure.”
Though his work ethic has made him a leader on the field, Bolton reiterated the importance of fun to being successful professional athletes.
“It’s a man’s game, but you’re still playing a kid’s game as well,” he acknowledged. “So [we’re] just having fun with it every single day — just having fun, joking around, having fun. Whether it be walkthrough before we start, chopping it up with each other on the sidelines, just bringing fun, make sure we’re having fun out here doing what we’re doing.”