KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs will be without star linebacker Willie Gay for four games after a suspension was handed down to the 24-year-old starter on Monday.

Barring an appeal with an adjusted sentence, Gay will miss some crucial games during this four-game span including matchups against the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road, divisional rival Las Vegas Raiders, and a huge AFC Divisional-round rematch against the Buffalo Bills.

The Mississippi State alum has had a great start to the season alongside second-year linebacker Nick Bolton. He has 16 total tackles, two tackles for loss and has played 78% of the defensive snaps in the season’s first two games, including 92% of the snaps against the Los Angeles Chargers.

In 2021, Gay missed the first four games of the season because he was placed on injured reserve. In that span, Ben Niemann and Anthony Hitchens stepped in and played in his place.

With those two veterans not on this year’s team, Blue Springs native Elijah Lee and rookie Leo Chenal will most likely step into the rotation. Darius Harris is Gay’s listed backup and may get the first crack at Gay’s position.

Chiefs coaches have talked about Chenal’s need for improvement in pass coverage before the season, so he may not get much of a chance unless that aspect of his game has improved.

All three players have played primarily special teams during the first two games.

Harris has been with the Chiefs since he was undrafted out of Middle Tennessee in 2019.

Even if his suspension is reduced, all of these linebackers will be counted on for some important games to step up in his absence as Kansas City gets into the meat of its season.