Chiefs LB Ramik Wilson

Wilson started the year on the practice squad. Now he’s the guy centrally responsible for replacing defensive star Derrick Johnson.
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Flashback to Sept. 4, 2016. That’s when the Chiefs waived Wilson, their 2015 fourth-round pick, to make room for ex-Packers linebacker Sam Barrington. Kansas City re-signed Wilson to the practice squad two days later, bumped him up to the active roster in October, and now he’s the guy centrally responsible for replacing injured defensive star Derrick Johnson.

So far, so good. Wilson will head into the playoffs (after Kansas City’s bye) off his best game as a pro, a 13-tackle showing in a Week 17 victory over San Diego. The challenges only get tougher from here. The Chiefs’ defense ranked 24th in yards per rush attempt and 26th in rushing yards during the regular season. It’ll have to be much better in January—the likes of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will rip through K.C. if not. Wilson will be busy, and he’ll have to keep performing the way he has since Johnson went down with a ruptured Achilles in Week 14.