Phillip Gaines continues to make positive impression on Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It didn’t take cornerback Phillip Gaines long during Wednesday’s Kansas City Chiefs practice to make yet another positive impression. On the second play of a 7-on-7 passing drill, Gaines got an excellent break on an Alex Smith pass, cut in front of intended receiver Chris Conley and made an interception.

It’s the kind of play Gaines didn’t and couldn’t make last season, when he was a rookie.

“It’s a big difference," Gaines said. “Last year, you’re coming in and seeing all these players you’ve never seen before, never played with before. You’re not playing as fast as you usually do. Now that I got some playing time and saw how things move, I have a lot more confidence so I can play a lot faster.”

Perhaps more than any other Chiefs player, Gaines has picked up more ground in the three weeks of practice. The Chiefs drafted a pair of cornerbacks, Marcus Peters in the first round and Steven Nelson in the third, and Gaines’ bid for a starting spot seemed in danger.

But Peters and Nelson have been unable to practice because of an NFL rule prohibiting rookies from participating if their college term is still in session. Gaines has taken advantage, giving him a huge edge over the rookies when training camp begins and the competition for the starting cornerback spot opposite Sean Smith begins for real.

Gaines could have been rattled when the Chiefs drafted two players at his position in the first three rounds. He wasn't, perhaps because he remembered how difficult things were for him as a rookie.

"Anytime you’re out there, you’re trying to solidify your position anyway regardless of it’s a first-rounder or seventh-rounder," Gaines said. "If the seventh-rounder beats me out, then the best player is going to play. It’s all about putting your best work out there and seeing what happens."