<
>

CB Sean Smith can't return quickly enough for Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs thought they had the depth to withstand the loss of their only established cornerback, Sean Smith, who is serving a three-game NFL suspension to start the season.

They were wrong. While rookie Marcus Peters has at times been spectacular at one corner and Phillip Gaines has held up at the other starting spot, third cornerback Jamell Fleming has been bad.

According to Pro Football Focus, opponents have completed 17 of 24 throws against Fleming for 208 yards and a touchdown. The resulting passer rating of about 111 is high enough to put any quarterback into the Pro Bowl.

Fleming was repeatedly burned by Denver quarterback Peyton Manning on Thursday night. The Chiefs’ only other available cornerback was Marcus Cooper, a former starter who is now buried on the bench because he had been burned repeatedly by Manning and the Broncos in previous games.

When asked about possible alternatives to a struggling Fleming, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “We felt that was the best deal right there.”

The Chiefs also have rookie Steven Nelson, a third-round draft pick. But he has not been active for either of the two games, a disappointment considering the Chiefs’ need of an extra cornerback.

Smith will help solve the problem. When he returns, the Chiefs can either move him into the starting lineup with Gaines becoming the third corner. Perhaps Smith, at least initially, will be that third corner.

Things will look better for the secondary then. But the Chiefs have one more games before they get there, and it will come against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.