KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In some ways, Akeem Jordan is the Ringo Starr of the Chiefs’ linebacking group.
Jordan, an inside linebacker, goes unnoticed for the most part, simply keeping the beat as the rest of the band — Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali — rack up sacks and bask in the media spotlight.
It’s an unsung role Jordan doesn’t mind.
“It really doesn’t bother me,” Jordan says. “I’m happy for all of them. You know, just as long as there is no weak link. That’s how we all feel each and every play. That feeling solidifies us.”
Jordan, 28, came to the Chiefs after six years with Andy Reid in Philadelphia, where he played a similar unheralded, lunch-bucket role. He came to the Chiefs with a reputation for being assignment sure and willing to do the grunt work of an inside linebacker, a duty that allows the outside linebackers to rush the edge and snatch the headlines.
“They’re great players,” Jordan says of the Hali-Houston-Johnson trio. “They’re phenomenal players. They deserve the attention. I’m just trying to do my job and help out.
“With the scheme we have, it just works out that way. It’s all about winning at the end of the day. I don’t think any of us worry about stats and glory and all that. Good defenses just worry about winning.
“That’s how we play.”
While Hali and Houston seemingly take turns winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, and Johnson is freed up in the scheme to deliver a team-high 39 solo tackles, Jordan often is required to stay put and cover the middle zone, making sure tight ends and running backs don’t release freely into the secondary.
It’s anything but a glamorous task, but Jordan takes pride in it. He is still third on the team in tackles with 26.
That he doesn’t have a sack yet during a season in which the Chiefs are threatening the NFL record for team sacks doesn’t seem to faze him.
“I don’t think it’s about spreading around the sacks,” he says. “If one guy gets three sacks and another guy gets two sacks, we look at it like that’s five for the team. I don’t think any of us just go into a game thinking, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get my sack total up, or I got to get three sacks today.'”
Jordan has been around the league long enough to know it takes a concerted effort for even the great players to post gaudy sack totals.
“I’m not taking anything away from their talent,” Jordan says. “They have a lot of talent. But they don’t get the sack if someone is open and the quarterback can get the ball to that guy. They don’t get the sack if the guys up front don’t get a push. It takes a lot of work from everyone.
“I just feel like it’s a team effort. We’re all unselfish. We get everyone together and on the same page.”
And it’s not like Jordan’s role goes unappreciated from the coaches or his fellow linebackers.
“He’s as steady as they come,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton says. “Just a sound football player. You need guys you can count on, and he’s every bit of that.”
“We appreciate everything he does,” Houston says. “We know it takes all 11 for us to get sacks or whatever. He’s a big part of it, too. He’ll get his (recognition) pretty soon.”
“(Jordan) does a lot of the hard work inside,” Hali says. “The dirty work. It’s him, it’s the guys up front.”
Occasionally, Jordan even hears his number called on a blitz, a rare moment for him to shine, even though it’s usually up the middle, where there’s often too much traffic to get to the quarterback.
“I get the call fairly enough,” Jordan says. “I think everyone gets excited when they get to blitz. It’s like, ‘Here ya go.’ When they call your number, just be ready. Do your job. Don’t be the weak link.
“That’s how I see it. My time will come for (sacks). But it’s not that important as long as we are doing our job as a group. This is an unselfish group.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.