Previewing Kansas City Chiefs OTAs: Looking at the Linebackers Group

Checking out the Chiefs’ linebackers competing during OTAs

The biggest storyline for the Kansas City Chiefs at the linebacker position will be the eventual return of the franchise's all-time leading tackler, Derrick Johnson, who had his season cut short a year ago because of a second ruptured Achilles tendon in three years.

Johnson, who has said he plans and is on schedule to be ready for training camp, will once again lead an inside linebackers group that's full of young and talented players.

After beginning last season on the practice squad, third-year player Ramik Wilson returns as the team's third-leading tackler from last season—finishing with 76 total tackles.

Wilson is joined by fellow third-year player Justin March-Lillard, who began last season as the starter next to Johnson on the inside, and Pro Bowl special teamer D.J. Alexander looks to mix in as well.

Here's a look at the snap counts and production from the Chiefs' inside linebackers last year:


On the outside, fourth-year player Dee Ford is coming off a breakout season in which he led the team with 10 sacks, helping make up for the absence of Justin Houston, who missed time coming back from offseason knee surgery.

In addition to Houston, veteran Tamba Hali, who ranks second in franchise history with 89.5 career sacks, will help provide leadership to the rest of that group. Frank Zombo, who has experience and offers flexibility playing both inside and outside, returns for his fifth season in Kansas City as well.

Last year, the Chiefs kept nine total linebackers on the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason.

Here are the 14 linebackers on the roster for OTAs:


Here's the Chiefs' schedule of OTA practices:

Tuesday, May 23         11:10 a.m.

Wednesday, May 24   11:10 a.m.

Thursday, May 25       11:10 a.m. * Coach Reid speaking to media

* *

Tuesday, May 30         11:10 a.m.

Wednesday, May 31   11:10 a.m.

Thursday, June 1         11:10 a.m. * Coach Reid speaking to media

* *

Tuesday, June 6          11:10 a.m.

Wednesday, June 7     11:10 a.m.

Thursday, June 8         11:10 a.m.

Friday, June 9              11:10 a.m. * Coach Reid speaking to media


Mandatory Minicamp:

Tuesday, June 13        1:20 p.m.

Wednesday, June 14   11:15 a.m.

Thursday, June 15       11:15 a.m. * Coach Reid speaking to media

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