KANSAS CITY, Mo. – From going through the tunnel to the sights and sounds of TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Chiefs rookie defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches absorbed everything about Week 6.
The matchup against the Minnesota Vikings marked the first time Nunez-Roches was active for a regular-season game after being a healthy inactive the previous five weeks.
So it comes as no surprise the Chiefs’ sixth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi savored the occasion.
“I really did,” Nunez-Roches said with a wide smile. “I think it took me to when I was warming up to really hit me like you might really play this game. And I took that moment and I was like, just be thankful, seize every moment and opportunity because you never know when it will come again.”
The 6-2, 307 Nunez-Roches saw action on two defensive snaps and five on special teams.
But he made the most of his limited snaps with a tackle on defense and almost came through with a big play on special teams, which left an impression on special teams coordinator Dave Toub.
“I saw an explosive guy,” Toub said. “I mean, we see an explosive guy in practice, that’s why we put him in there. We had a punt block that we put him in and he shows real good explosiveness and he almost blocked that punt right at the end. As long as he’s up we’re going to continue to use him little by little.”
The Chiefs were without defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who continues to recover from a high-ankle sprain, against Minnesota.
Poe’s availability and perhaps defensive end Mike DeVito, who is dealing with a concussion, will affect what the team does with Nunez-Roches against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But the Chiefs have confidence in the rookie if they need to utilize him Sunday.
“Anytime where you get a guy where he has some ability,” Toub said, “we want to get him out there.”
And that is perfectly fine with Nunez-Roches.
The native of Dangriga, Belize, said he has grown comfortable with the Chiefs’ defensive playbook since training camp after experiencing three position coaches in college.
“At the beginning it was different because in college I played in so many schemes with different coaches,” Nunez-Roches said. “What the Chiefs require and how they want you to play, it was different for me.
“But with the veterans and coaches showing me how things work, what doesn’t work, the coaches always pushing me to do better and work on my technique, it became way easier as camp went along and as the days come, it’s easier and easier.”
Nunez-Roches specifically credits defensive end Allen Bailey for helping him develop.
“Great guy, great veteran,” Nunez-Roches said. “He really will take time to show you the keys to be successful.”
With an NFL game under his belt, Nunez-Roches gained confidence and is prepared for whatever the Chiefs require of him going forward.
“That’s what you work for, to be on that field,” he said. “Being my first real game from preseason, it was great. It was a lot of emotions, but I felt like I stepped up and I accepted that challenge and did a great job.”