Aug 7, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate (19) catches a touchdown as Chiefs cornerback Ron Parker (38) defends at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chiefs right cornerback Ron Parker is getting a taste of the glaring spotlight that comes with playing on the edge against wide receivers.
The fourth-year pro started the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, but didn’t turn in a memorable performance.
He was on the bad end of a 53-yard catch by wide receiver A.J. Green and was beat by wide receiver Brandon Tate for a 9-yard touchdown. He was also flagged for illegal contact.
Parker, a converted college free safety, is still learning how to play cornerback. But he knows playing safety isn’t the same compared to where he lines up now.
“It’s real different because it’s you on the island out there with you and the receiver,” Parker said. “When a ball or something gets caught on you and everybody sees it on TV, they actually blame you. You have to have a short memory, put it behind you and just come back and fight the next play.”
Parker said he’s learning from Thursday night’s performance by watching tape and correcting the identified mistakes on the practice field, which includes staying on top of deep passes.
“When I’m back deep,” he said, “I got to be deep and just come up and make plays.”
The Chiefs haven’t lost faith in Parker, who lined up with the first-team defense during Saturday’s practice. Parker intercepted quarterback Alex Smith during 11-on-11 drills featuring the starting defense against the starting offense.
Still, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton reinforced the need for Parker to have a short memory after giving up a big play such as from Thursday night.
“He’s got to be like any player,” Sutton said, “especially out there at the edges. You need to have a short memory, you have to learn from whatever happens to you out there, and obviously he’s got to play that particular route better than he did.”
Meanwhile, Parker can feel cornerback Sean Smith, who started at right cornerback in 2013, making a push to regain the position.
Smith had a pick-6 against the Bengals and also notched an interception Saturday during 7-on-7 drills, but Parker welcomed the challenge.
“That’s what you like as a group,” Parker said. “You want it to be a battle, you want it to be a competition, you want to compete at every position and I think we’re doing a good job of that right now at the cornerback position.”
Sutton echoed Parker, indicating the competition between Parker and Smith will prove healthy for the roster. Parker has lined up with the first-team defense since the final week of organized team activities.
“I hope they make it a hard decision on us,” Sutton said. “That would be the best thing for us. That would be great.”
No second thought
Tight end Travis Kelce showed Thursday night he’s healthy as he returns from a microfracture knee procedure in October 2013.
Kelce displayed tremendous speed by running away from defensive backs after taking a short pass and turning it into a 69-yard touchdown. He finished the game with two catches for 73 yards and the score on three targets.
The better news is Kelce’s surgically repaired knee doesn’t cross his mind.
“I feel confident with where my knee is now that I don’t think about it that much,” Kelce said. “There might be one or two times that I get really fatigued where I really have to focus in on the technique and the fundamentals so I don’t put myself in a bad situation. But for the most part I have 100 percent confidence that my knee is where it needs to be and will just keep getting better from here.”
The Chiefs offense missed Kelce’s explosion last season.
Starter Anthony Fasano also dealt with injuries and missed six games (four to an ankle injury, two to a concussion). But having Fasano and Kelce healthy will provide a boost to the passing game.
For his part, Kelce has enjoyed learning from Fasano, who enters his ninth season.
“It’s been a luxury to be honest,” Kelce said. “Because the guy’s knowledge and the guy’s experience at the position, it’s almost been like having another coach out there.”
NOTES: Special teams coordinator Dave Toub is a fan of the NFL’s trial run of moving the point after touchdown to the 20-yard line … “I like it,” Toub said of the NFL’s experiment. “I think it puts more emphasis on the field goal kickers because everyone is watching it now.” … Danan Hughes, Bill Maas, Shawn Barber and Jayice Pearson were among the 20 former Chiefs players present to observe practice … “It’s the history of the Chiefs,” Reid said of the Chiefs alumni, “and it’s a great history so we welcome those guys back.”