One week into training camp and Josh Mauga is returning to his old self.
The ex-Greenwave and Wolf Pack star has climbed up the depth charts as the No. 2 left inside linebacker position for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s gone great,” Mauga said about training camp. “Each day I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable with playing again. I’m not as rusty as I was in the first week.”
Mauga, who spent his first four years with the New York Jets, has battled injuries since the 2012 season. After being given a clean bill of health last month, Mauga earned a second chance in the NFL.
The Chiefs host the Bengals on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“I’m very excited. It’s been too long since I last played in a game,” Mauga said. “I’m also looking forward to playing in Arrowhead as I’ve heard it’s a great place to play at.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, meanwhile, hasn’t been disappointed.
“Good, solid football player. I’ve seen him before, and he’s a good, solid football player,” the second-year coach said of Mauga. “It looks like he’s in good shape, he’s running around well. Give him a little time here.”
Joe Mays is currently No. 1 at the linebacker position but No. 2 has been a battle between Mauga and Nico Johnson, a rookie out of Alabama. Ex-Nevada teammate James-Michael Johnson is also No. 2 at right inside linebacker.
Reid has been impressed with Mauga as well as Nico Johnson.
“We really kind of like what Nico is doing right now,” Reid said. “Every day he takes another step forward and we’re liking what we see right there.”
With the game on Thursday, Reid said only the quarterbacks situation was certain in regards to distributing playing time. Each quarterback will play a quarter.
“That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I haven’t done any of the other players,” Reid added. “That’s what we’ll look at with the quarterbacks and try to match it up according to that.”
Reid, though, said everyone will get to play and wants to give those who eventually don’t make the team an opportunity to showcase their talents during preseason.
“You want your veteran players to get back into game mode,” Reid said. “You want your young guys to show the best they can show. Everybody will play in this game. Everybody’s going to have the opportunity to play. You want the guys to get themselves, not everybody can make the team. So, if they don’t make this team, they can have some tape out there that they can show and you want good tape for them so they have an opportunity to make it somewhere else.”
Mauga’s main goal out of Thursday’s game is to make plays and give the coaches more reason to keep him on the team.
“To play great assignment football and to make plays on special teams or defense,” he said.