Chiefs Camp Notes: Nico to the Rescue

St. Joseph, MO – With Linebacker Derrick Johnson in the prime of his career, the Kansas City Chiefs need to eventually find his successor. And thanks to their recent NFL Draft, they may have found more than that.

When Head Coach, Andy Reid, called Alabama Head Coach, Nick Saban, to discuss the character of linebacker, Nico Johnson, it appears that KC's new coach was convinced that should Johnson be there with the second overall pick of the 4th round that Kansas City would be wise to select him.

Well Johnson has yet to play a down for the Chiefs but after watching the ease in which he glided thru rookie camp, OTA sessions and Mini-Camps, one would think that he already has a feel for the NFL game.

As one of the early participants before the big boys hit the practice field on Friday, Johnson has a leg up on solidifying a spot on the 53-man roster. That's not good enough because he wants to be a starter this season.

But before that can happen, he has to embrace his rookie status and take the opportunity on like he did at Alabama. That means he can't skip a beat from the college pace to the NFL and he can't be awed when the veterans hit the field for the first time in camp.

"We're holding ourselves to a higher standard out here as rookies. Once everybody comes it won't be anything different because we've been holding ourselves to that standard for the past three days. It won't be any different. The tempo will be a little different, that's it," Johnson said Thursday.

Johnson has already proven to the coaching staff that he belongs on the roster and has the chops to become a starter. For now though, he understands that getting in shape, listening to the coaches and exceeding expectations will serve him well at the NFL level.

And that means he has to start hitting! "I understand that your mindset and body have to get used it. I'm used to helmets one day and the next day full pads. It's a little different, but it's fun, taking care of my body, and just enjoying the process," he said.

Still with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali entrenched on the outside and DJ set at inside linebacker, KC's 3-4 fortunes could rest on NJ becoming a productive player early in his NFL career. That means he has to impress his coaches.

So does he consider himself a starter?

"We haven't talked about it. The only thing is that they are pushing me to be my best," he said about starting.

"That's the only thing I'm taking from that. Going out and doing my best and everything else will take care of itself. That's the only thing I can control. I can't control what the coach's do, just what I can and that's what I'm going to do."

NJ is one of those numerous mid-round picks that probably slid too far based on his talent. And coming from Alabama based on some bias, that might have hurt his draft status.

But the Chiefs could care less about that they and NJ are just glad he's playing for KC. And NJ appears to have just the right attitude that warranted his favorable pre-draft review from his old coach to his new one.

"As long as I'm playing the game I love, I can't complain."

Chiefs Notes:
RT Eric Fisher - The Chiefs remain hopeful that the NFL will approve their contract with the 2013 top draft pick. At question, are the guarantees and accelerations in years four and five of the rookie contract?

While some teams have been able to slide the language thru league eyes swaying it in their favor, the Chiefs want to insure the last two years of the contract are sufficient to avoid having to re-do Fishers' contract after three years.

Can Nico Johnson be a starter in 2013?

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