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Chiefs’ George Karlaftis could turn out to be NFL’s own Greek Freak

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The quickest solution to the quarterback for a defensive end is frequently probably the most direct route, and which may be why Chiefs rookie George Karlaftis is so adept at bulldozing his way through an unsuspecting offensive tackle and into the backfield.

However, perhaps it’s since the route Karlaftis took to reaching the NFL was anything but direct.

The primary-round select of Purdue grew up in Athens — not the one in Georgia, home to the Bulldogs, however the one in Greece, home to the Parthenon. His father, Matt, was an completed track and field athlete who had ventured to the U.S. to attend college, and while doing doctoral work at Purdue had met his eventual wife, Amy.

The 2 settled back in Athens, where Matt Karlaftis launched into a profession in academia, and where the family eventually grew to incorporate 4 children. However the lives of all of them modified in June 2014, when their patriarch died of a sudden heart attack while on a piece trip on the age of 44. Inside a matter of days, Amy decided to maneuver together with her kids back to Indiana, where she settled in West Lafayette to be closer to family and her support network.

It was there that George Karlaftis, who had excelled at water polo and a myriad other sports in Greece, fell in love with the American version of football. He was within the eighth grade and, for a young man learning a latest language, adapting to a latest culture and attempting to make latest friends, the sport gave him a chance to find himself.

Now, a mere eight years later, the 21-year-old Karlaftis has reached the head of the game.

“Looking back on it,” he said, “it’s pretty crazy to take into consideration. I feel like, more generally speaking, I’ve all the time excelled in sports to a certain extent. Football type of got here natural to me after I had a full 12 months under my belt. I surely fell in love with it. Just looking back on it, I had a crazy, crazy ride. And similar to the French say, ‘C’est la vie,’ right? That’s life.”

It has definitely been an interesting one. And in some ways, it’s only starting.

The Chiefs were higher than simply three teams within the NFL last season when it got here to bringing down the quarterback, they usually were unable to make a noteworthy splash in free agency until they signed veteran Carlos Dunlap midway into training camp. So as a substitute, they spent one among their two first-round draft picks in an try and upgrade at defensive end.

Karlaftis was the fifth one off the board after a standout profession at Purdue, but he fit perfectly with Kansas City.

“With a late begin to football, he picked it up quick,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said, “and one thing in common in everyone that you simply check with about George is approach to the sport and the way vital it’s to him.”

That’s been evident through the primary month of coaching camp. Karlaftis is commonly one among the primary players on the sector and one among the last to depart it, and never simply because he’s probably signed more autographs for fans than simply about anyone.

Along the best way, Karlaftis began spending time with veteran Frank Clark, who frequently puts in extra work after practice.

“George is dope. He’s a dope rookie,” Clark said with a smile. “He listens, you realize? And truthfully, I really like him. He’s a favourite for me early, one among my favorite rookies ever. He desires to be good. He understands it’s a special game. There’s a special twist within the NFL. You’ve to be understanding that.

“The opposite day,” Clark recalled, “he asked about getting off the ball — I fly off the ball — and he’s asking, ‘What are you taking a look at?’ And I explained to him different keys. Then at the tip of practice, I’m zoned out, taking a look at the sky, just had five plays in a row, and he got here running over to me and he’s like, ‘Bro!’ Scared me. He’s like, ‘Bro! I did it! I did what you told me to do!’ I used to be like, ‘Oh, cool. Great things.’ But just the incontrovertible fact that he got here over so excited was cool.”

Not all the time does such practice success translate on game day, but Karlaftis couldn’t have had a greater preseason debut than last Saturday in Chicago. He had two quarterback hits together with a tackle-for-loss and a sack.

“Everyone seems to be helping in their very own way,” said Karlaftis, who gets his first opportunity inside Arrowhead Stadium when the Chiefs play Washington of their second exhibition game Saturday. “We’re attempting to have the strongest group possible. However it’s just little things in regards to the game, little veteran intricacies, which are being passed right down to me.”

The depth chart is fluid in Kansas City, where defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is understood for rotating so many players that it hardly matters anyway. But at the least for now, Karlaftis is taking the shortest route he can to the highest — similar to he does when he’s attempting to chase down a quarterback within the backfield.

“He’s a fantastic kid,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “Lots of love for the rook. He got here in and knew the playbook, he’s a real student of the sport. He has numerous heart and energy. I really like twiddling with him. He brings the young dog out of me.”

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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