ne of the interesting developments for the Kansas City Chiefs this summer has been the play of the young cornerbacks.
Rookie first-round pick Trent McDuffie, as well as fourth-round pick Joshua Williams and seventh-round pick Jaylen Watson, have played so well this summer that Kansas City has parted ways with some of the team’s veteran corners competing for a roster spot. Those players include Deandre Baker and Lonnie Johnson Jr., who the team traded for earlier this year.
“I (could) tell from OTAs they were ready to go from when they first came in,” Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed told Arrowhead Pride of the rookie cornerbacks. “I (could) tell that they were learning a lot, taking everything in and soaking it in.”
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Cutting a player the team surrendered a draft pick for just months ago doesn’t happen very often. But it speaks volumes about how quickly the rookies have picked up the way things work in Kansas City.
Sneed, who is entering his third year in the league and is the most tenured corner on the Chiefs’ roster, further detailed what he’s seen from the young corners to merit their ascension up the depth chart.
“I see that they’re hungry; they want to be successful,” said Sneed.
Sneed had particularly high praise for McDuffie, who was expected to come in and immediately fill the starting role left by Charvarius Ward. The rookie has done that and so much more, according to Sneed.
“I call Trent ‘Steph Curry.’ He a swift little guy; he can do it all — from the inside to the outside,” Sneed said.
Spags on Rookies: ‘You Can’t Put Your Head in the Sand’
With multiple rookies vying for large roles this season in the secondary, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is watching them closely this summer to make sure they can hit the ground running come the regular season with as few bumps as possible along the way.
One play that was discussed with Spags from Kansas City’s preseason opener against the Chicago Bears took place late in the first quarter. It was a 3rd-and-9 play for the Bears’ offense deep in their own territory, and the Chiefs defense gave up a first-down catch on an incredible sideline grab made by receiver Tajae Sharpe with Williams in tight coverage.
Although there didn’t appear to be much else Williams could have done on that play and it was more so an excellent play by Sharpe, Spags thinks the rookie could have done better.
“We have to make that play,” Spags explained. “I think he did (do the right thing) for the most part; I don’t know, maybe he closed his eyes. He can make that play. You hope that as he gets more comfortable, the confidence comes there — and he goes and makes that play.”
Spags noted during his presser that Watson had a similar play made against him during practice the following week. While Spags did admit that those plays are going to happen, he also keeps a close eye on how his young corners respond after big plays like those.
“To me, it still comes back to how you respond in a game,” he said. “More than anything, how they respond when it doesn’t go well. That’s really what I have my eye on. Yesterday, we had some snaps where it didn’t go well for some guys. You can’t put your head in the sand — or else they’re coming right back at you.”
Chiefs Face Commanders in Preseason
In Week 2 of the preseason, the Chiefs will face the Washington Commanders. That game will take place on Saturday, August 20 at 3:25 CST at Arrowhead Stadium. The game will also be available to watch on NFL Network.