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Chiefs Positional Preview: Linebackers

Exploring what to watch in the Chiefs linebacker group leading up to training camp

The Kansas City Chiefs have a lot to look forward to when it comes to the linebacker position heading into the 2015 season.

Derrick Johnson is back after missing nearly all of last season, Justin Houston has his long-term contract and Tamba Hali returns for his 10th season in the National Football League.

The three lead a group deep in talent, including former first-round pick Dee Ford, the returning Josh Mauga and rookie draft picks Ramik Wilson and D.J. Alexander.

Here are three points to watch headed into Chiefs training camp:

Now under a long-term contract, Justin Houston joins Tamba Hali as the starters on the outside.

The moment Chiefs fans were waiting for all offseason came right up against the deadline on the morning of July 15. That is when general manager John Dorsey signed Houston to a long-term deal, keeping in a Chiefs uniform for years to come.


Houston returns after putting together the best year of his career in 2014. After breaking the Chiefs single-season sack record in the team's final game against the Chargers, the fifth-year linebacker added another for a total of 22, coming within a half a sack of Michael Strahan's league record.

Houston will thus draw a lot of attention from opponent protections, and that could leave the door wide open for Hali to take advantage.

In the past three years combined, the veteran entering his 10th season has compiled 26 sacks. He will look to head to the Pro Bowl for his fifth season in a row.

Hali spoke about how important it was for him to stay in Kansas City this past offseason.

On the inside, Derrick Johnson returns from injury and Josh Mauga is back after a great 2014 season.

Johnson is one of the Chiefs best players on the field, but the presence he brings to the defense as a whole is unmatched.

The Chiefs welcome Johnson back in 2015.


After he missed all of 2014 with injury, he will look to break the Chiefs career tackle record during the first few games of 2015. When Johnson suffered his ruptured Achilles injury in the first game of last season against the Tennessee Titans, he was at 985 career tackles, 14 shy of the leader, Gary Spani, with 999.

Mauga returns to the inside of the Chiefs linebacker corps after filling in when Johnson went down last season.

A training camp signee in 2014, Mauga should be an integral part of Bob Sutton's defense heading into 2015.

Similar to Mike DeVito, Mauga shares ties to Sutton due to their time together with the New York Jets.

The Chiefs selected linebackers back to back in rounds four and five of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The linebacker position was one the Chiefs addressed, as they took Ramik Wilson in round four and D.J. Alexander in round five of the 2015 NFL Draft.


Ramik Wilson

Both players impressed in minicamp and OTA.

"They look great, these guys come in and work hard every day," Mauga said of the two Chiefs draft picks in June. "[They are] asking a lot of questions, which is great because we don't want them out there not knowing what they're doing.

"They've been flying around making plays for us."

How the two will fit into the defense should become more and more clear as training camp carries on.

With the 172th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft the Chiefs select LB D.J. Alexander.

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