Early returns positive at free safety

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith doesn't throw many interceptions. He had one of the lowest interceptions percentages in the NFL last season and even in practice generally takes good care of the ball.

So when free safety Husain Abdullah came away with an interception at practice on Wednesday, it was news. The interception was one of many plays made by Abdullah this offseason that give the Chiefs reason to believe they made the right decision to install him as their starter, though Sanders Commings could also still win the job.

Free safety was a huge problem for the Chiefs down the stretch last season. They allowed starter Kendrick Lewis to leave in free agency and he eventually signed with the Houston Texans.

Abdullah was a backup safety for the Chiefs last year.

"He’s done a good job," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "He did a really good job for us last year, played a lot of different roles for us. He’s a guy that has very good instincts, has really good knowledge of the whole defense so he gives us some great flexibility. He can play back, he can play up and I just think he’s going to get better and better."

The Chiefs' other safety, Eric Berry, is a Pro Bowler. The Chiefs have used him more lined up closer to the line of scrimmage but occasionally will mix things up.

"We try to play both safeties equally," Sutton said. "We don’t really have a strong and a free, so both guys have to know both jobs. But you’re really looking for guys that have a lot of range. Free safeties can do a lot of things, a lot of it goes unnoticed but you can cap off a play. A play that maybe was run or caught for 20 yards but that guy is there to stop it at 20 yards. That's a big part of being successful. Anytime you can limit the explosive players and keep them down, the better off you are.

"You're asking a lot. You've got to be a centerfielder, you've got to have good knowledge of the defense, like every team is asking out of their safeties. Those would be the main things that we'd be looking for.”