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Chris Jones says defensive line playing with new urgency

On Wednesday, Kansas City’s defensive tackle discussed new coach Joe Cullen, new teammates and Arizona’s Kyler Murray.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

When new Kansas City Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen spoke to the media in June during organized team activities (OTAs), he boasted that he expected a career season from defensive tackle Chris Jones.

In his own media remarks before Wednesday’s practice, Jones declined to make such bold predictions, but he was clear that Cullen — combined with key pass rush reinforcements —has had a positive effect on his room.

“I think Joe Cullen has gotten another sense of urgency out of the D-line,” he claimed. “We were able to bring in a few more guys to add to the depth. Carlos Dunlap, another few younger guys, and we drafted a first-rounder – George Karlaftis.

“I think [Cullen’s] demeanor, it’s like a domino effect on all of us. This sense of urgency. I think we’re going to continue to build, continue to lay that foundation throughout — and make sure it shows up on game day.”

Jones expressed excitement about his new teammates. Keeping with a more team-oriented approach he has shown since training camp, however, he refused to speculate on how their presence may benefit his own stats. He was also optimistic about a strong performance from returning EDGE rusher Frank Clark, who appeared in better shape (and in a better place overall) during training camp.

“I think it will help the defense tremendously. Carlos is a proven guy in this league. George Karlaftis — you turn on his college tape, he has a motor like no other. And Frank Clark — look at his playoff record. It speaks for itself. Having all those guys here [and] healthy, I think that’s imperative for our defensive line.”

Jones also shared some advice he had given Karlaftis before his first regular-season game. He implied that the nervousness the rookie likely feels is not a one-time situation.

“I was telling George, ‘I still get butterflies the first game of the year.’ You’re a little nervous, you get excited. I still get the jitters. It’s ok. You should have it. [It’s] his first primetime game — his first major league game from college. Let it all out — let your emotions show.”

Beyond the new faces in the defensive line room, the Chiefs have replaced multiple key players throughout the defense. Jones believes the adjustments made in camp will benefit the team when the season starts.

“Our chemistry as a defensive line as a whole — our chemistry on defense,” he cited as a reason to expect defensive improvement. “We’ve got a lot of new guys, which forces us to talk more. Forces us to be more proactive. Forces us to get to know our teammates better. I think as a defense, we’ll be better overall.”

Syndication: Arizona Republic David Wallace/The Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Communication will be key in Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals — with quarterback Kyler Murray’s running ability a major concern. Jones recognizes the challenge, knowing that a dual-threat quarterback like Murray cannot be imitated in practice.

“We’ve got to find a way to contain him,” Jones acknowledged. “We don’t have anyone as fast as Kyler Murray or as dynamic as him that we can put at the quarterback spot in practice.”

He is prepared for his entire unit to be in for a long day against the first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“It’s going to take all four guys on the defensive line — maybe sometimes five,” Jones predicted. “Just making sure everyone is relentless. If you’re tired, get out, get a sip of water, and we’re going to keep that thing going. I think it’s imperative that all four of us have our ears pinned back and are flying to the ball.”

Jones is entering his seventh season. During his tenure with the team, the Chiefs have never lost a season-opener. He credited Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s thorough preparation for how well the team has played out of the gate in recent years.

“It’s all about preparation with Andy,” he explained. “Year in and year out. Training camp is extremely tough. And I think this translates to the game week. The way he prepares [us] to be physical for when the season approaches is beneficial for us as a team.”

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