Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens’ bank account is a little lighter than it was at the beginning of the offseason.
In light of COVID-19 forcing offseason training to happen virtually, Hitchens told the media that he has converted his single-car garage into a workout area with almost every single piece of equipment provided at the Chiefs' training facility. He also said he lives across the street from a middle school track, making it easy to keep up with his assigned workout routine.
“They send us workouts every two or three weeks for the next two or three weeks and then we just follow the workout routine and we do whatever is on the card,” Hitchens told reporters. “I’ve been doing that and then a little extra trying to stay in shape because I know eventually, we are going to go back, and I don’t want to be that guy that’s not in shape and not fit to play football.”
Hitchens is entering his seventh season in the NFL, the third under contract with the Chiefs. Due to Kansas City’s Super Bowl LIV win and the coronavirus pandemic, this offseason has been different than he’s experienced before.
The 6-foot, 234-pound linebacker doesn’t want to harp on the contrasts. He’s more interested in making the most of what can be done to replicate last year's success.
“I don’t think it’s easier,” Hitchens said. “There’s nothing easy about winning the Super Bowl or getting to the playoffs. I think once you get back, that’s going to tell everything. You can learn a lot from the team meeting. Everyone’s on and the coach is talking, you write notes. You’re still learning. It’s no different than being in the classroom. The only thing [different] is you can’t go out there. You can’t tell who’s learning and who’s not.”
Hitchens feels the organization has embraced adjusting to meeting virtually. Between team and individual sessions, he typically has meetings from noon-2 p.m. four days a week. He said friends on other teams meet, at most, two times per week.
The difference correlates with the defense’s goal of taking it another step in 2020.
“We improved from Week 7 through the whole season and I think we can get better in the run game,” Hitchens said. “Our [defensive backs] and our secondary saved us a lot of games. T5 [Tyrann Mathieu] and people getting picks and batted balls on fourth downs and all that. Once we get that going with the run game, not making predictions or anything like that, but we should be a top-five defense.”
Hitchens has similar aspirations individually as he attempts to keep up with younger linebacker talent, such as second-round pick Willie Gay Jr.
“I’m the older guy, I have to keep up with the young guys,” Hitchens said. “That’s why I decked out my single car garage and I got my track and field across the street. I’m trying.”