Much like the team’s right guard Trey Smith, he and his defensive teammates are looking forward to the chance to “hit people.”
“I’ve been long overdue,” Bolton told reporters following Tuesday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “I think as a defense, we’re kind of excited for that one.”
Bolton believes Sunday’s game will give the defense a chance to “have fun and play football again” — and evaluate its effectiveness.
“I’ll get an opportunity to see how we compare against the run,” he noted. “[How we] get D-linemen inside blocks... getting off of blocks and tackling on the perimeter.
“I kind of feel like those are the big things — especially [in] Weeks 1 through 5 as a defense — the kind of things we want to be on top of to help us out.”
Navigating an opponent’s emotions is one part of the game for which the Chiefs’ defense has had plenty of practice at camp. Bolton thinks that a couple of heated exchanges between the defense and tight end Travis Kelce will make the defense better over the long run — and he thinks Kelce would ultimately agree.
“Trav is a little older guy,” noted Bolton, “so a couple [of] little hits at the ball after the whistle probably aggravates [him] a little bit. I understand he might not like it now — but [if] we can get him [the] ball back in the regular season, I know he’ll love it. So we’re going to keep at it.”
Bolton and his fellow defenders recognize that going against Kelce (and quarterback Patrick Mahomes) in practice every day helps bring out their best.
“Anytime we can line up versus Trav and the rest of the tight ends — and Pat throwing the ball,” he remarked, “[that] will help us out down the long run. We know he’s the greatest in the game — and he’s earned that recognition.”
Bolton says that with so many defensive players returning from 2022 — particularly in the secondary — the communication between them is greatly improved.
“It’s night and day,” he declared. “Everybody’s communicating; everybody feels more comfortable. We can talk to each other, give people hand signals and kind of know what [everyone is] thinking — and that kind of helps us out a lot.”
Bolton identified second-year safety Bryan Cook as a “vocal guy” who can communicate effectively on the field.
“[He can say] something that he might be completely wrong [about] — but he makes you believe he’s 100% right,” Bolton reminded his listeners with a smile. “But more times than not, he’s 100% right. So [he’s] getting guys lined up and communicating — and [making] sure everybody’s on the same page. And if he sees something, he can help me out — or vice versa.”
As training camp continues, Bolton thinks the defenders’ ability to help each other become better players is one of the unit’s best characteristics.
“I feel like we’re growing together,” he said, “trying to figure out what each [of us] does the best — [and] how do we make each other better. We know which guy brings what to the table. We’re just trying to maximize that as much as we can.”