Two players went down with season-ending injuries for the Kansas City Chiefs over the weekend, but Fallon’s Josh Mauga escaped unharmed in the second start of his professional career.
Despite a 26-10 loss to Tennessee at home on Sunday, Mauga finished second on the team in tackles with eight, while former Nevada teammate James-Michael Johnson stepped in for the injured Derrick Johnson, a middle linebacker who ruptured his Achilles along with defensive end Mike DeVito.
Mauga accounted for eight solo tackles, including a hit on Titans quarterback Jake Locker, while James-Michael Johnson had three tackles, two of which were solo.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the defense played well in the first half but gave up too much on the ground in the second half. It didn’t help that the offense was out of sync all day, putting more pressure on the defense to keep the Chiefs in the game.
“The thing that jumps out at you is the amount that they ran the ball and the yards that they got on that,” Reid said of the second half. “So again, we’ve got to secure that up and do a better job there.”
Reid, though, was pleased with the ex-Wolf Pack linebackers. It also helps that Mauga is familiar with the system from his days with the Jets and current defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
“He was a starter in the nickel package for the Jets, and he’s a good football player, overall a good football player,” Reid said. “That’s why we brought him, to give him that opportunity to play, at that time backup, and now he’s asked to start.”
Getting used to being the starter full-time until Joe Mays returns next month is the only obstacle for the Mauga. Reid feels Mauga can get the job done while the defensive personnel tries to recover from the injuries.
“I think reps, game plan, knowing the game plan, studying it,” Reid said. “Like I said, Mauga knows the system, has a pretty good feel for the system. It’s just a matter of getting in there and doing it.”
He said that he feels Johnson can step up and help fill the void as well.
“We thought JMJ was a good, solid linebacker,” Reid said. “But we do feel like he can step up and if he needs to play more, then he’ll play more.”
The Chiefs hit the road this week when they visit Denver to battle Peyton Manning and the defending AFC champs.