Instead, they decided to sell away some veteran depth at cornerback, dealing recent starter Rashad Fenton to the Atlanta Falcons for future draft capital and financial space. It was a bit of a risky move considering the lack of experience at the position but the early returns have been magnificent.
Rookie first-rounder Trent McDuffie returned in Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans — reclaiming the starting role immediately — and his numbers were spectacular.
Trent McDuffie Backs up Chiefs’ Daring Decision in Week 9
Pro Football Focus counted 49 out of a potential 51 defensive snaps for McDuffie on Sunday Night Football. Not only was the hamstring okay, but it appeared to be strong in the first-round selection’s comeback outing.
Obviously, Tennessee didn’t throw the ball much behind quarterback Malik Willis. Having said that, the Chiefs secondary proved to be very formidable when they did.
Kansas City cornerbacks were targeted eight times in Week 9 — allowing one catch — with McDuffie stifling receivers once again as he did in Week 1. The key prospect was thrown at twice against the Titans and both passes were incompletions. The performance yielded an NFL passer rating of 39.6 and a PFF coverage grade of 79.9.
McDuffie did miss one tackle in the run game, but it was an otherwise stellar return for the rookie out of Washington who has yet to allow his first NFL reception.
“Man, it was so much fun,” he told media member Charles Goldman after the win. “I kept saying it, even last week — San Fran week — I’m like ‘man, I just miss being out there with the boys.’ I miss being in the crowd, so finally getting back here and having a game like this, the leg felt good and it’s a big confidence boost going forward.”
McDuffie will face a mildly tougher test in Week 10 against Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who flaunt a deep wide receiver room that includes Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones.
Jaylen Watson Is Fine After Leaving Early
There was a slight scare in Week 9 after fellow rookie Jaylen Watson left the game due to an eye issue. Later, head coach Andy Reid calmed the nerves of fans during his postgame press conference.
“Jaylen Watson really just got faceplanted in the dirt,” Reid relayed candidly to reporters, “got dirt in his eyes [but] everything worked out okay.”
So long as L’Jarius Sneed and this trio of rookie CBs can remain healthy down the stretch, the Chiefs really don’t have too much to worry about in the secondary. Watson and Joshua Williams were just as good in coverage as McDuffie on Sunday night when targeted, although they didn’t play as many snaps.
Sneed allowed the only catch within the unit and it was for a measly total of two yards. In a clear rushing effort from Tennessee, the only two major culprits in the passing game were linebacker Leo Chenal and safety Juan Thornhill.
The rookie LB was responsible for the early 48-yard screen to tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo while the latter was charged with two receptions for 34 yards. Thornhill also struggled in the run game with poor marks of 28.2, the lowest on the entire KC roster.