For the first time in almost two years, Josh Mauga ran out the tunnel and played in front of thousands of fans last week.
The Chiefs opened their preseason schedule with a 41-39 win over Cincinnati on Thursday as Sean Smith and Malcolm Bronson returned interceptions for touchdowns and De’Anthony Thomas returned a punt for an 80-yard TD.
Kansas City, which ends training camp on Thursday, is on the road in Week 2 of the preseason as it travels to Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers. The game will be televised Sunday on Fox at 5 p.m.
Mauga, whose last time playing in a game was in October 2012, played half of the game on defense and special teams and finished second on the team in tackles. Mauga’s ex-Wolf Pack teammate, James-Michael Johnson led the Chiefs with five tackles and Mauga finished with four, including two solos. Another former Pack teammate, safety Jonathon Amaya, signed with the Chiefs this week.
“That’s where I started my career off — special teams,” Mauga told the team’s website last week. “I love the special teams. If you can get out there and make plays, and show that you can block, you can play a long time in the league.
Mauga, though, saw Monday’s practice end early after injuring his groin and sat out of Tuesday’s workouts. The extent of the injury is unknown.
According to Chiefs Spin, Mauga left on his own accord and had a noticeable limp before being transported to the training facility. He returned without pads and slowly limped to the medical team and worked on the sideline with trainers alongside other injured players.
Mauga has a history of injuries after spending time on injured reserve all of 2013 with a back injury and then half of 2012 with a torn pectoral. His versatility has impressed the Chiefs during training camp, including defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
“He’s versatile,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Mauga. “He can play either position on base or sub. He was a backup outside linebacker for us as well. When you’re trying to put your travel team together, that’s a huge plus when you can get a guy to play multiple positions
Sutton, who coached Mauga in New York, was pleased with the linebackers’ performances in the preseason game. The linebacker corps is deep this season, taking the competition to another level.
Yeah. I think that all those guys who have gone in there—Joe (Mays) has done a really good job,” Sutton told the team website on Friday. “Josh (Mauga) has come in and of course, he’s familiar with the system. Nico (Johnson) has done a good job. So those to me are plusses for us and however that shakes out, it shakes out. But I know we got some good football players there.”
Head coach Andy Reid has been pleased as well with the inside linebackers especially. Mays is currently No. 1 on the depth chart while Mauga is No. 2 at the inside linebacker position.
“Well, Joe Mays, he’s the guy in base,” Reid said. “And JMJ (James-Michael Johnson) you see in there in nickel and Mauga, they’re all kind of working in there and doing their thing. Nico (Johnson) is getting better every day, which is fun to watch so, good competition in there too.”