SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — There’s no denying the departure of Derrick Johnson leaves a major whole for the Chief’s defense.
But the return of one name could help fell the gap, and he’s feeling pretty good.
“Like a newborn baby,” said Chiefs Linebacker Reggie Ragland. “Nah, but I feel great. I can finally get back out there with my guys and participate in the practice. I feel real good and I’m happy to get back out there.”
Ragland is back on the practice field after a knee injury.
Like any good leader, he hated having to wait to join his team.
“It was tough not to be out there with my guys for the first couple of weeks and everything,” Ragland said. “But everyone just kept telling me, ‘Man, take your time. Make sure you’re right when you come back.’ And that’s just whan I was doing.”
Now the wait is over and the pads are back on, but the challenges are just starting.
“I think one of the hardest things to do for an NFL player is to get somewhere after training camp,” Chiefs Inside Linebackers Coach Mark Deleone said. “He missed all the installs. He gets in here and we have to teach him the defence. I think it’s a credit to Reggie because he loves football and every single day he wants to get better and he wants to learn if there’s something he’s missing.”
That desire to learn has helped him quickly jump back into the defense and his coaches can tell it won’t be long before he’s back to 100 percent.
“He’s got a pretty good feel on what we’re doing,” Head Coach Andy Reid said. “It didn’t look like he had lost too much there. He was pretty much up on it. All the calls and all the things that he’s responsible for, it’s good to have him out there.”
While most of the credit goes directly to Ragland, some of it deserves to go back to Derrick Johnson.
“I don’t have enough good things to say about Derrick,” Deleone said. “He’s a tremendous person and a tremendous player and I’m not saying anything we don’t know. I think he did a great job bringing not just Reggie, but Terrence Smith, Ukeme Eligwe. He was a great role model for all those guys as they matured in the league.”
Now the linebacker corps Johnson raised moves on without him, but Ragland says they’ll be a lot harder to get past this coming season.
“We gonna stop it this year. Everyone has the right mindset. We got the coaches staff. We got everybody. We’ve just got to put it together and be one as a team.”
If they are able to put it all together, we could be crediting this unproven linebacker corps for a return to the playoffs.