Chiefs Rookie ‘Trending Toward’ First NFL Start in Week 12

Bryan Cook

Getty Kansas City Chiefs safety Bryan Cook during the 2022 preseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs have relied on their 2022 draft class all season and that group of rookies will be called on again versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Starting safety Juan Thornhill was labeled as questionable on the Chiefs’ final injury report in Week 12 after suffering a calf issue. He did not participate in practice on Friday, putting his status for Sunday’s game in doubt.

Although Thornhill has not officially been ruled out yet, his chances of playing don’t appear to be great, and his absence would move first-year safety Bryan Cook up the ladder.

Chiefs S Bryan Cook ‘Trending Toward’ First NFL Start

USA Today media member Charles Goldman talked about Cook’s potential promotion during an article with Chiefs Wire.

“Cook is trending toward making his first career NFL start with Juan Thornhill listed as questionable with a calf injury,” he wrote. “The rookie safety did some really good things in Week 11 and earned the trust of Steve Spagnuolo in doing so. He had a touchdown-saving tackle of Austin Ekeler in the red zone. He also helped Nick Bolton force a fumble on Keenan Allen and so on.”

The Cincinnati safety was originally pegged as a prospect that could make an immediate impact on the field, and he has been a consistent contributor all season. Cook has appeared in nine out of 10 games so far, with 21 total tackles, one pass defense, and one quarterback hit.

His snaps have been split pretty evenly on defense and special teams so far, with 184 as a safety and 164 with the ST unit. That could change if he’s elevated into a starting role though.

“He can build on that performance in Week 12, but also make an appeal to the coaching staff with his play,” Goldman voiced. “A good performance, even against a backup quarterback could show the coaching staff that the second-round draft pick is ready for a bigger role moving forward.”

Thornhill is an impending free agent in 2023, so every moment on the field is an audition for Cook. If he continues to develop, he could step into a full-time job alongside Justin Reid next spring.

Chiefs Announce Week 12 Elevations

Kansas City did elect to use their practice squad elevations in Week 12. Chiefs Digest insider Matt Derrick was one of the first to report on the moves.

“Chiefs elevated S Zayne Anderson and WR Cornell Powell for Sunday’s game versus Rams,” he tweeted. “Both are special teams depth but also provide depth at positions where injuries remain an issue.”

The Anderson promotion all but ensures Thornhill’s unavailability, while Powell gets the call over Marcus Kemp this time. Both wide receivers were elevated last week against the Los Angeles Chargers but neither factored in the passing game.

With Kadarius Toney ruled out, it makes sense to spend another elevation on Powell.

It will be the second time that both of these practice squad players are elevated this season, meaning they each have one potential elevation remaining. Anderson last appeared in the Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills, as well as four games in 2021. He has registered 76 special teams snaps in his career but has never played a snap on defense.

Powell logged one snap on offense against the Chargers, with 15 snaps on special teams. As Derrick noted, both will serve as depth in this one.

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