KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have enough cornerback depth that, until last week, they could have afforded carrying first-round draft pick Marcus Peters in a lesser role during his rookie season.
Not any more. Last week’s news that veteran cornerback Sean Smith would be suspended for the season’s first three games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy greatly increases the Chiefs’ need for immediate help from Peters.
Smith will be able to practice during training camp, which begins Saturday at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Chiefs still need to give plenty of first-team snaps to Peters, who could step into the No. 1 cornerback role in 2016 if Smith leaves after this season as a free agent.
The Chiefs have other cornerbacks who have played for them and, at times, played well. Phillip Gaines, Jamell Fleming, Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker fit into this category, though Parker is the starting strong safety and Cooper’s play was miserable last season. The Chiefs also have Peters and another rookie, third-round draft pick Steven Nelson.
So the Chiefs have some options at cornerback. But without Smith, their best and only truly established player at the position, they need a top-end talent in their lineup. Among their many candidates for playing time at cornerback, only Peters fits that description.
That’s why the Chiefs have to prepare Peters during training camp to be ready when the regular season begins.