KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper was one of the stars of the Kansas City Chiefs' defense almost from the minute his team claimed him off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers at the start of the regular season. He is a big, physical cornerback who was doing a nice job of disrupting routes at the line and making plays on the ball down the field.
But as with many of his defensive teammates and Kansas City's defense as a whole, the quality of Cooper's play has fallen sharply. Over the last several games Cooper has allowed numerous big plays, and it got to the point in last week's game against the Indianapolis Colts that the Chiefs benched him. They gave his job as the third cornerback to veteran Dunta Robinson.
Robinson played well enough to keep the job in this week's game against the Chargers in San Diego. He played well enough in coverage. He missed an attempted tackle on Donald Brown's long touchdown run, but was also contending with a blocker at the time.
“[Cooper] is a young player I think has a good future,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Sometimes you’ve got to take a little step back to take a big step forward. That’s how it works sometimes in this game. I’ve done that with younger guys in the past. I thought he handled it the right way. He got a few snaps in there in the game and did OK. We’ve just got to let him work his way back in.’’
Next year and beyond, Cooper might have a role for the Chiefs. He showed plenty over the first eight games of the season, and the Chiefs shouldn't give up on him yet.
But it is troubling that Reid and the Chiefs felt it necessary to give Cooper a break. That being the case, they're better off sticking with Robinson, a known commodity, as the third cornerback in the playoffs.