HOUSTON -- On his first NFL play, rookie cornerback Marcus Peters did what the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him in the first round to do: intercept a pass. Later in the game, he did what rookies at his position typically do: give up a couple of touchdown passes.
The Chiefs are depending on him to do more of the former but grow up quickly and do a lot less of the latter in Thursday night's game against the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning. Their chances of beating the Broncos for the first time since Manning joined in 2012 might depend on it.
The Chiefs, who struggled to force turnovers last year, had two critical takeaways against the Houston Texans. Each gave the Chiefs the ball inside the 20 and resulted in a Kansas City touchdown.
Peters had the first, an interception early in the game. The Chiefs drafted him hoping he could be the big-play cornerback they've lacked for years and, one play into his career, they looked as if they found the right guy.
"You can't beat that," the other starting cornerback, Phillip Gaines, said of Peters getting a pick on Houston's first play. "You can't write that in a movie.
"He's a monster. Any time a ball is around him, when the quarterback makes a mistake, he's going to make him pay."
The Chiefs later recovered a fumble inside the Houston 10, but Peters wasn't involved in the play.
But the play continued a pattern of interceptions by the rookie. He had three in an early training camp practice and more as the days of practice went on.
More troubling to the Chiefs were the touchdown passes he allowed. On the first, he was in position but outjumped by DeAndre Hopkins, who has one inch and 20 pounds on the 6-foot, 197-pound Peters.
Peters will face an even bigger receiver on Thursday night in Denver's Demaryius Thomas. That's to say nothing of the leap in competition at quarterback from Hoyer and Ryan Mallett in Houston to Manning.
The Broncos, after seeing Peters against Hopkins, will undoubtedly test the rookie corner. The Texans did with good results.
"They're going to keep trying him, they're going to keep trying everybody," Gaines said. "That's the nature of the game. Receivers are going to make plays. DeAndre Hopkins is a great receiver. But Marcus is a baller and he'll make plays, too.
"He was handling it like a vet. Everybody is going to get beat. That's just [part of] being a corner. When you make more plays like he does throughout the game, that's a testament to how good he is and how hard he always plays."
Indeed, Peters didn't seem to lose any confidence because he allowed two touchdowns. That's a good sign for the Chiefs because cornerbacks are better players when they have selective memories.
"Nobody [is] bigger than me in my heart," Peters said. "I never let it get to me even though I'm a competitor. It was right here in the back of my mind but it's a next-play mentality. I know I have 10 other guys on the field who [have] my back."
That's a good attitude for Peters to have. He'll need to bring it with him Thursday night against the Broncos.