No one would blame Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland delivered a little extra effort against the Buffalo Bills, the team that drafted him in 2016 and dealt him to Kansas City before he even played an NFL game, but that’s not the linebacker’s style.
“Anytime you play against another grown man who wants to hit you in your mouth, there is always motivation to get him before he gets you,” Ragland said.
That attitude put Ragland on Kansas City’s radar coming out of Alabama in 2016. The Chiefs put his name on their draft board but the Bills traded up in the second round to nab him.
Ragland then suffered a series a setbacks in Buffalo. The first came during training camp when he sustained a torn ACL. The injury cost him his rookie season before it could begin.
Then Buffalo cleaned house after the season, firing head coach Rex Ryan. New head coach Sean McDermott hired defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who championed a 4-3 defense.
The new scheme did not suit the skill set of Ragland. The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Ragland owns the hulking frame and the physical prowess of a classic 3-4 Mike linebacker ready to thump runners coming through the line and punishing anyone traversing the middle of the field.
That made Ragland available, and Veach jumped on the opportunity to scoop up Ragland for a fourth-round pick in 2019, and now that deal looks like a steal.
Ragland picked up nine tackles against his former teammates Sunday, including three tackles for a loss. That gives him 18 tackles in the last two games.
“This is without looking at the tape, but I though he made quite a few plays out there,” head coach Andy Reid said following Sunday’s game. “He’s getting better every week which is a plus.”
Ragland didn’t see his first playing time until Week 4 against Washington. But the Chiefs shied away from playing a traditional 3-4 front, eschewing a second inside linebacker in favor of an extra safety.
That changed last week against Washington. Ragland, who played just 107 snaps in his first six games, played 47 snaps against the New York Giants. He played most of the game against Buffalo as well. He says the bump in playing time helped him turn the corner.
“I got to know my players so I know what I’ve to do on the field,” Ragland said. “It is just more and more when I get out there with those guys. But they make me more comfortable out there by talking to me and telling me what I need to do.”
Ragland said he now holds a better understanding of the defense and his role in it.
“It’s really the same thing every week,” Ragland said. “The teams run the same thing, so it is really just seeing it and going out and executing what you got to do.”
Ragland tried to view Sunday’s game as just any other game. He says he wanted to impress his new teammates more than his old ones.
“It felt good,” Ragland said. “I just had to take in the mindset it was just another regular game out there against anybody. I had to play good for my team.