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2010 Position Previews: Cornerback

Posted Jul 26, 2010

The cast of Chiefs competing for roster spots at cornerback in 2010

Back for more: Jackie Bates; Brandon Carr; Travis Daniels; Brandon Flowers; Maurice Leggett; Mike Richardson; Donald Washington

Welcome to KC: Javier Arenas (draft pick)

Departures: None

2009 Starts: Carr (16); Flowers (15); Daniels (2); Leggett (1); Richardson (1)

Career Games Played: Daniels (60); Carr (32); Flowers (29); Leggett (22); Richardson (21); Washington (8); Arenas (0); Bates (0)

Preview: The Chiefs defensive backfield is a very crowded place and the cornerback position is no exception. This position group’s mantra might as well be, “the more you can do,” as many of the 15 DBs on the roster can play multiple positions. As a result, a number of Kansas City’s reserve cornerbacks also have the ability to play the nickel and safety positions.

The unquestioned leader of this group is third-year starter Brandon Flowers. Although he missed the entire on-field portion of off-season workouts for precautionary measures (shoulder), Flowers is expected to be ready for the 2010 season.

Flowers fits into the pack of second and third-year performers that the Chiefs are relying on to make significant off-season progress should the defense wish to reverse its fortunes from 2009. Arguably the Chiefs best all-around defender, “significant off-season progress” could push Flowers into the highest echelon of the league’s cornerbacks.

Brandon Carr is the leading candidate to start opposite Flowers, having opened all 32 games of his two-year career at that post. Carr came on KCChiefs.com early into off-season practices and stated that he was focused on righting what he felt was a disappointing 2009 performance. He went to work and turned heads this spring. He may be the most battle-tested 24-year old cornerback in the entire NFL, rarely missing a snap and seeing plenty of action playing opposite Flowers the last two seasons.

The play of the cornerback starting opposite Flowers will be a critical component of the Chiefs defense with opposing offenses testing Flowers less often. The good news is that Carr is becoming a trendy pick, both locally and nationally, as a player on the verge of a breakout. He’ll be a fun player to watch in St. Joseph.

Travis Daniels would have been a leading candidate to win defensive MVP of off-season practices, if such an award existed. After turning in numerous interceptions and impressive man coverage during OTAs, Daniels was rewarded with first-team reps during mini-camp. The most experienced player of the position group, Daniels enters 2010 fighting for the same roster spot that he was unable to win in 2009. After being released at the conclusion of training camp, he was re-signed by the Chiefs in November.

Daniels also has NFL experience at safety, though not with the Chiefs.

Second-round draft pick Javier Arenas should make a run for the club’s starting duties at nickel, having repped with the first-team defense at that position through much of the off-season. Although it seems like a nickel role may be Arenas’ ticket to defensive snaps in 2010, it’s not out of the question to think that he could see time as a traditional cornerback as well. Arenas could be in store for a busy rookie season if he can also win the return jobs on special teams.

Maurice Leggett may be the most versatile defender in the Chiefs secondary. The Chiefs Rookie of the Year in 2008 played exclusively at cornerback this off-season while Flowers rehabilitated. Just where Leggett lines up in St. Joseph is somewhat uncertain.

After starting at cornerback in the 2009 season opener, Leggett shifted into the nickel role before ultimately settling in as a situational safety. He appears fully recovered from the shoulder injury that put him on injured reserve mid-way through the 2009 season.

Put Donald Washington into the same category as Leggett. The Chiefs still officially list Washington as a cornerback, but the 2009 fourth-round pick practiced at safety this past off-season. Was that switch simply to see what the club had in Washington, or was it intended to be permanent?

Veteran Mike Richardson is also in the mix for playing time, spending the majority of spring practices in a reserve role. A regular season pickup in 2009, Richardson was Kansas City’s primary nickel back for portions of the year.

Second-year player Jackie Bates rounds out the group. He spent all of 2009 on the Chiefs practice squad.

The defensive backfield, as a whole, is one of the most intriguing position groups heading into training camp. Youngsters will have an opportunity to play big roles and their push will make the numbers crunch for roster spots extremely tight. When August concludes, there will be some players who played significant snaps in 2009 without a roster spot.

Quotable: The following player or coach quotes occurred this off-season, relative to the position group.

Brandon Flowers doesn’t want you to worry about his shoulder…

“Shoulder’s doing fine . . . It’s at 100 percent now, going ahead getting stronger so it won’t bother me at all for the season this year.”

Todd Haley is high on Brandon Carr’s potential for 2010…

“There are a bunch of guys that I am really excited about. This is about our team as a group but Carr, to me, is a guy who has come in with his head down working hard. He came in a little ahead of when the actual weight program began and he was here ahead of time and has really worked hard. It looks like it has translated out to the field. He is gaining confidence and he is a big, fast corner. He is a player that I am keeping my eye on and I am hoping that this progress continues.”

Haley leaves door open for Leggett’s position this season…

“We’re just trying to move guys around and figure out what’s best for them, what gives them the best possible chance to succeed and what gives us as a team the best chance to succeed. He’s one of those guys that can do a little bit but at the same time, you don’t want to disrupt players and have them spend all their time at one spot and then, ‘oh by the way, we’re going to move you over there.’ It’s all part of the process but right now, Maurice is working at corner which I think he has a real good chance to have success at.”

Number Crunch: The Chiefs carried five cornerbacks on the Opening Day roster in 2009 – *Carr, Ricardo Colclough, Flowers, *Leggett and Washington

*indicates opening day starter

Up Next: Safeties

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