KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Second-year Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton will be without his usual running mate for the next four games with the NFL suspending Willie Gay for an incident earlier this year.

Despite not having one of their defensive leaders on the field, Bolton said the defense has a “next man up” mentality.

“We got a lot of guys coming in every single day putting work in since training camp to give us the opportunity to go out there and play our best,” Bolton said. “We’re gonna keep stacking days and when we get Willie back, we’ll be ready to go. He’s gonna be missed, but we gotta keep going.”

With the departure of veteran LB Anthony Hitchens in the offseason, Gay and Bolton became the leaders in the linebacker room. Heading into the season, Gay said his focus for the defense was to play hard, play fast and have fun.

“He wants to see his juice flow through us,” Bolton said. “We’re gonna try to bring that to the game.”

Bolton, who was drafted in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Missouri, will now be calling out plays and leading the defense out on the field.

“I don’t really feel added pressure. Our job is to go out there and give our defensive players the call and go out there and execute,” Bolton said. “I been doing that my whole life and I’m gonna continue to do so.”

Head coach Andy Reid said LB Darius Harris would be filling in for Gay during his suspension. Harris signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019 out of Middle Tennessee, and has been in and out of the practice squad until making the active roster in 2022.