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Chiefs Lose Key Player To Injury Before Super Bowl vs. Buccaneers

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay looking off into the distance

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 22: Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before the NFL game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 35-31. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When the Chiefs mount their Super Bowl defense on Feb. 7, Andy Reid's defense will be down one key linebacker.

According to multiple sources in Kansas City, breakout rookie Willie Gay tore his meniscus at practice on Thursday. The 22-year-old linebacker underwent surgery and already posted a picture in his brace,

Can confirm. Was told Willie Gay tore his meniscus at practice earlier today and had surgery. Also saw Gay posted the pic in the brace on IG. https://t.co/8NJW3IAvM3

— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) January 29, 2021

">per Carrington Harrison. The 2020 second round pick hadn't played since the end of the regular season as he nursed a sprained ankle. Gay will now miss approximately four months with the meniscus injury before trying to return in 2021. The linebacker out of Mississippi State pleasantly surprised in 2020, earning eight starts for the Chiefs in the regular season. He collected 39 total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in 16 appearances. He also proved to be a key addition on special teams, playing 55 percent of the units' snaps this year.

The loss of Gay will leave a hole in the Chiefs' depth chart going into the Super Bowl. It's hard to speculate who will fill the slot, but Kansas City's defense will need to be prepared to slow down Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is firing on all cylinders at just the right time, leaving Reid with a tall task in just nine days.

Super Bowl LV still plans to go on as scheduled, without Gay, on Feb. 7. The game will kick-off at 6:30 p.m. from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay and air on CBS.