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Chiefs’ George Karlaftis striving for improvement after his first NFL game

Kansas City Chiefs rookie DE George Karlaftis took his first NFL snaps in preseason Week 1 against the Chicago Bears.

Speaking of his debut, Karlaftis relished the opportunity to finally work against actual opponents. It allowed him to get a better gauge of where he is at after a grueling few weeks of training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri.

“Yeah, it was great to go up against someone else,” Karlaftis said. “New opponents and all that stuff. Kind of test where you’re at, see how things are going and that kind of stuff. It was a great first taste.”

By all accounts, the rookie had a superb debut. He filled the stat sheet with one sack, two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and one tackle, plus numerous pressures in limited action. Getting the sack was an important milestone for Karlaftis, but also something situational that helped the team.

“It was good,” Karlaftis said of his first sack. “It was good to get a big third down stop and get our offense the ball back.”

Karlaftis felt good about the stats he recorded, but he was already thinking about the ways that he could improve and do better next time.

“The almost – the inches of the game – I think that’s the big difference between the NFL and college,” Karlaftis told reporters. “Getting there versus almost getting there is a big difference. That is something we’ve got to take back to the drawing board and practice on and work at in order to get those almost to being sacks.”

The rookie said his two big takeaways from the game were, firstly, how much the NFL is a game of inches. Secondly, he simply needed to take in the speed of the game. Karlaftis was already anxious to dive into the film and see what things he can work on ahead of preseason Week 2.

“I’ll probably watch (the film) on the way to the airport,” Karlaftis claimed.

The rookie even left an impression on the team’s star quarterback with his performance. Patrick Mahomes had great things to say about Karlaftis after preseason Week 1, with just one important criticism.

“He’s going to go hard the entire time,” Mahomes said. “That’s just who he is. That’s what got him here. I think he’ll keep crafting his skills every single week and keep getting better and better. He’s a guy that works extremely hard so I know he’s going to keep getting better and better.

“The only thing we have to work on is his celebration. Because I don’t know what that was, he did like a double arm flex down. I’ve never seen that one. I was like, ‘At least go up with the flex if you’re going to do something.’ We’re going to work on that and get back to you.”

Karlaftis agreed with his quarterback’s assessment.

“Yeah, I’d agree,” Karlaftis said with a grin. “First (sack), you get all excited and you don’t really know what to think. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It’ll come with time.”

Rest assured that the defensive line room will be helping him with that one too.