As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for their primetime matchup with the New York Jets on Sunday, they must once again face the possibility that starting linebacker Nick Bolton will miss the game. After missing Week 3’s 41-10 victory over the Chicago Bears, Bolton has been held out of both of this week’s practice sessions with an ankle injury.
If Bolton isn’t able to go on Sunday night, linebacker Drue Tranquill will once again be called upon to fill his shoes. After spending his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, Tranquill joined the Chiefs as a free agent in March. Against Chicago, Tranquill played every defensive snap until reserve players came into the game. On Thursday, his performance earned him praise from his coaches.
“I thought he did a great job,” Kansas City linebackers coach Brendan Daly told reporters. “He has been working since the day he got here — but he’s been doing a lot of different things; he’s learned multiple roles. The situation came up with Nick and he was ready to go.
“He works his tail off. It’s very important to him; he cares a lot about getting it right, so to speak. I would say he did an excellent job.”
Tranquill compiled eight tackles (four solo) and half sack in the game — and Daly noticed his ability to manage the game and communicate effectively with his teammates.
“The communication on the field was really good,” noted the coach. “He got us in and out of a couple of checks [and] managed the game well.
“[It] wasn’t perfect — there were a couple of things that I think even he would tell you he’d like to fix or correct — but based on what he had on his plate, I thought he did a really nice job.”
Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was equally impressed.
“I didn’t feel like we skipped a beat,” he said om Thursday. “And we know how valuable Nick is — what he does and how he controls it. I thought Drue went in there and did an outstanding job. I don’t recall that we pared anything back because of it. That’s the kind of confidence we have in Drue.”
The Chiefs hope to get Bolton back as soon as possible, since the Super Bowl captain has proven to be one of the leaders of Kansas City’s defense. But as Bolton continues to recover from his ankle injury, Tranquill’s performance on Sunday shows that he’ll once again be ready to step in.