Lost in the controversy of last week’s defeat was the return of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton. The third-year pro returned to his starting spot at the middle of the Chiefs defense after missing the past five games with a dislocated wrist.
While he admits that he is not quite back into game shape just yet, Bolton feels optimistic that he is trending in the right direction.
“I’m still working on some conditioning and stuff like that,” Bolton said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ve been sitting down for a little bit, but I’m making strides in the right direction. I’m just trying to get out there and be the best version of myself I can be for the guys.
After being listed as a full participant in practice last week, Bolton followed his first game back listed as a limited participant for both sessions this week. In addition, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said the team tried to manage Bolton’s time on the field last Sunday, ramping him up slowly to ensure that he was there for when the Chiefs needed him the most.
“He’s a little banged up,” Spagnuolo revealed. “I feel like it’s unfortunate for Nick because you get the ankle right and then the wrist. It’s just been one of those years for him. He’s fighting through some other bumps and bruises that you get when you haven’t played, then, all of a sudden, you go and play the game.
“We tried to spell him. You probably saw in there that Jack [Cochrane] went in early. That was planned because we wanted to make sure — and it did get to I think in the low 70s for plays — if that happened, we wanted him fresh at the end because we need all our guys at the end of the game. He’s getting there. He probably answered better than I could, but we love having him in there because of what he does in managing the game for us.”
Bolton played well during Kansas City’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills. He was on the field for 71 of the team’s 77 defensive snaps and recorded eight combined tackles — second highest on the team.
Bolton credits his time away from the field for allowing him to learn more from Spagnuolo, thus slowing the game down in his eventual return.
“I can see what’s the reason why [Spagnuolo] is calling things from the sideline,” Bolton explained. “What he sees, what he’s looking at, I’m having communication with him throughout the game. I think the game slowed down a little bit for me.
“In terms of the guys, you kind of see what guys do best. What they like to function in, what play calls make them show that their best personality of themselves. So yeah, just trying to implement those as much as I can, and just trying to get coach Spags to call those plays for those players in the game at that time and get rolling from there.”
With his first game back out of the way, Bolton is focused on helping the Chiefs end their two-game losing streak with this week’s game against the New England Patriots.
“We got to find a way to win each week,” Bolton said. “We’ve got an opportunity to win one down in Foxborough, so that’s our mindset.