The Kansas City Chiefs' initial 53-man roster has been solidified, and the team kept four linebackers: Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, Leo Chenal, and Darius Harris.
Elijah Lee is reportedly set to return to the team once a roster spot is reopened. Lee is currently signed to the practice squad — along with Jack Cochrane, who had three tackles against the Green Bay Packers in the Chiefs' third and final preseason game.
Darius Harris was the standout, and he played like a roster spot was on the line (and, as we learned from general manager Brett Veach, it was). Harris earned his way to the roster with an impressive performance while mainly playing with the second defensive unit.
Rookie Leo Chenal was on the field with the starters. Once Lee returns, the Chiefs will have a deep and athletic group of linebackers. Any of whom should provide stability and reliability if on the field.
Harris was hot right from the get-go, and he knifed through the line of scrimmage to stop the play in the backfield. He quickly gets downhill, shoots the open gap and runs down the ball carrier for a tackle for loss.
Harris again makes a nice play — this time after a pass completion. He is able to beat the offensive lineman to the spot and gets leverage to make contact with the runner before the offensive lineman can get hands on him. Another solid play behind the line.
Harris comes on a blitz but has the awareness to see the screen play developing. He crosses the face of the guard and sneaks in behind to bring down the running back for a minimal gain on third down, which should have forced a punt.
This play ended up being negated, as a facemask penalty was called, which gave the Packers a first down.
Here is a play that should be corrected. Willie Gay Jr. is instrumental to the success of the Chiefs' defense, so plays like this should be cleaned up for the regular season. He comes in fast, but his breakdown would change the outcome of this play. Since we have seen him make this play multiple times, we'll chalk it up to preseason rust.
Chenal is an exciting addition to this group. He plays with some serious drive and has caught on quickly to what the defense is trying to accomplish. Chenal possesses natural strength, but he is one of the more well-conditioned athletes on the field.
Chenal is sent on a blitz, and even though he doesn't get the sack, he does enough not to allow the quarterback to step fully into his throw. The rookie from Wisconsin runs right through the running back attempting to pass block, perhaps providing a preview of what we might expect from No. 54.
The bottom line
The linebackers are undoubtedly led by Bolton and Gay, who we have witnessed grow into defensive studs.
Bolton looks to build on a particularly successful rookie season, and Gay could finally reach the potential that has flashed over the last two seasons. Chenal, Harris and eventually Lee round out one of the best linebacker corps the Chiefs have featured in a long time.