Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said he kept in contact with cornerback Marcus Peters during -- and immediately after -- his one-game suspension to let him know his teammates hadn’t forgotten him.
“I shot a few texts this last week and with him coming back after the game,’’ Smith said this week. “Marcus is a heck of a competitor, and he is in it. Sometimes that gets the best of him. But no question, he took his punishment. He’s back, and we’re ready to roll. We have a big challenge, and we need him back.
“None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We are all trying to go. We are all trying to figure it out. We all deal with our own things, right? Like I said, we need him. We need him back and rolling.”
Peters, the Chiefs’ No. 1 cornerback, will play in the biggest game of the season on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. Both teams are 7-6 and tied for first place in the AFC West.
Coach Andy Reid publicly welcomed Peters back shortly after last week’s game against the Oakland Raiders.
“The suspension is over,’’ Reid said. “Now he’s back in and ready to roll. That’s the way I’m going to handle it, and I know that’s the way he’ll handle it. For whatever wrong that took place, he’s paid that price and now he’s back, and I expect nothing but the best from him.’’
The Chiefs played one of their best defensive games of the season without Peters in beating the Raiders. The Chiefs, who were shredded by the Jets for 38 points and almost 500 yards the previous week, held the Raiders scoreless until the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs have a decision about which one of their cornerbacks loses his playing time because of Peters’ return. Darrelle Revis, Terrance Mitchell and Steven Nelson played well against Oakland. Mitchell would seem to be the most likely candidate to be benched. The Chiefs recently signed Revis to help in pass coverage, while Nelson is their best slot cornerback.
In the Chiefs’ world, that’s a good problem to have if it means making room for Peters. His suspension is, at least publicly, a thing of the past.
“I think all of our responsibilities to the team is to be accountable,’’ Smith said. “That is really us doing our job, preparing the right way and being there on game day and go out there and playing as hard as we can. That is your accountability and holding up your end. Beyond that, all those types of things are up to individual guys.”