Mauga to start at LB for Chiefs
After spending nearly the last two seasons off the field, Fallon’s Josh Mauga is making the most of his second chance.
Mauga, who starred at Nevada before signing as an undrafted free agent by the Jets, cleared the chopping block over the weekend as the Chiefs reduced their roster to the mandated 53 players. If making the team was good enough, Mauga will be one of the starting inside linebackers when Kansas City opens with Tennessee on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Joe Mays, the team’s No. 1 left inside linebacker who’s in his seventh season, suffered an injury during the preseason and is expect to miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Mauga, who is entering his fifth year and was out for two preseason games with a groin injury, made his return last week against Green Bay.
He gets the nod to replace Mays in the meantime, including when the Chiefs visit San Francisco on Oct. 5 in Alex Smith’s unofficial homecoming. Smith was drafted by the 49ers before being traded to Kansas City before last season after Colin Kaepernick emerged onto the scene.
In the 34-14 loss to the Packers, Mauga played in the first half and was tied with the team lead in tackles before giving way to Nico Smith, a rookie from Alabama competing with Mauga for No. 2 on the depth chart. Smith, though, didn’t make the official roster over the weekend and was signed to the practice squad.
According to ChiefsSpin.com, Mauga was impressive in the first quarter when he and safety Daniel Sorensen tag-teamed for a loss. Mauga finished with three tackles, including one solo.
“One play where he showed recognition occurred in the first quarter and he shot the gap to hold up a Packers running back,” Herbie Teope wrote. “The player broke out of Mauga’s tackle, but right into the waiting arms of rookie strong safety Daniel Sorensen, who dropped the running back behind the line of scrimmage for a loss.”
Mauga’s ex-teammates from Nevada, James-Michael Johnson, a right inside linebacker, made the roster and is No. 2 on the depth chart, while safety Jonathon Amaya was cut.
The Chiefs are coming off a playoff season in Andy Reid’s first year with the team, but they blew a massive lead in the AFC Wild Card match-up against the Colts. Kansas City jumps into AFC West play on Sept. 14 when it travels to Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Super Bowl runner-ups.