Josh Mauga’s biggest opponent in his five-year NFL career has been his body.
Injuries started to plague the inside linebacker and 2005 Fallon High grad during his last two years at Nevada before they followed him to the East Coast when he signed with the New York Jets to begin his NFL career. After spending all of last season on injured reserved and not being re-signed, Mauga’s found another place to call home.
After trying out for Kansas City on Monday, Mauga said on Wednesday the Chiefs signed him to a one-year contract. While NFL contracts are not guaranteed, Mauga began training camp with the Chiefs on Thursday as he prepares to make the 53-man roster by the time preseason games conclude in five weeks.
Mauga was the Sierra Nevada Media Group’s 2005 Male Athlete of the Year, beating out Truckee football standout Jamie Maehler.
Battling with pectoral and back injuries during his career with the Jets, Mauga said last month before the Hometown Heroes event that he felt he was in good shape as he finished up his recovery routine and got back into shape. He spent time in San Diego training and said that several teams were interested to work him out after he was cleared to play.
“I’m feeling great,” Mauga said last month. “The last five weeks, I haven’t had any problems. Everything’s going OK. I’ve had some improvements and I feel confident.”
Mauga’s not a complete stranger to the Chiefs organization.
He played for Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton while he was on Rex Ryan’s staff in New York. Mauga posted his best season in 2011 when he played in all 16 games, started one and finished with nine tackles and one interception.
The 2012 season, though, appeared to be a breakthrough for Mauga as he was more of a regular on defense, but after five games, the pectoral injury sidelined him for the rest of the year and 2013.
Another familiar face working with the Chiefs is former Nevada coach Chris Ault, whom Mauga played for during his four years at Nevada. Ault was hired as a team consultant last year.
If Mauga makes the Chiefs’ roster at the end of training camp, he will visit close to home twice this season.
Kansas City, which rebounded under first-year head coach Andy Reid last year to make the playoffs, visits San Francisco in an unofficial Alex Smith homecoming on Oct. 5 at the new Levi’s Stadium. Smith signed with the Chiefs last season when Colin Kaepernick took over the job as Smith sat out with a concussion two years ago.
The Chiefs also visit Oakland this season as both teams play in the AFC West. The old rivals face off on Nov. 20 at the Coliseum. Mauga and the Jets came to Oakland in 2011 in his only trip to the Bay Area.