KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Creed Humphrey and Nick Bolton didn’t necessarily play like rookies for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021.
The club selected both Humphrey, a center from Oklahoma, and Bolton, a linebacker from Missouri, in the second round and both became starters and key contributors almost immediately.
Still, the learning curve for an NFL rookie can be steep and both players are glad its behind them.
“I feel 1,000 times better going into this training camp,” said Bolton, who led the Chiefs in tackles (112) and tackles for a loss (11) as a rookie. “I got a whole OTAs under my belt, got the scheme settled in and so I’m excited for what we’ve got going forward. I feel very comfortable.”
Humphrey credited veteran left guard Joe Thuney, a former All-Pro with New England who signed as a free agent with Kansas City last offseason, for helping ease his adjustment from college to the pros.
“Joe was a huge help,” Humphrey said. “You’ve got a guy who was an All-Pro guy that you’re playing with. He helps out a lot of things. He was a really good mentor for me, too.”
Now, Humphrey gets to pay it forward — including the chance to help rookie Darian Kinnard, a fifth-round pick from Kentucky, adjust to the NFL.
“You can tell he loves the game and you can tell he wants to be great,” Humphrey said. “... I’m going to help him any way I can. Me being in his shoes last year, I still remember a lot of the things that happened my rookie season and the things I went through, so I’ll be able to help him as much as I can.”
Humphrey finished third in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, quite a feat for a normally anonymous lineman.
Meanwhile, Bolton inherits the leadership mantle as the middle linebacker. He’ll call the plays for the defense as he steps into Anthony Hitchens’ role.
“We’ve got a young, fast defense,” Bolton said. “That’s what we’re going to pride ourselves on — being young, fast and physical.”
Veterans reported to Chiefs training camp on the Missouri Western campus in St. Joseph on Monday. Practices resume Wednesday ahead of the 2022 season.