KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Third-year pro Jamell Fleming surprisingly drew the start Sunday at left cornerback in place of Marcus Cooper against the San Diego Chargers.
Whether there’s an open competition leading to Week 8’s game against the St. Louis Rams or Fleming is the permanent solution remains to be seen.
“We’ll see,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during Monday’s media session. “We need everybody, so we’ll see how it all shakes out.”
The Chiefs signed the 5-11, 206-pound Fleming from the Baltimore Ravens squad on Sept. 12.
Fleming originally entered the league in 2012 out of Oklahoma as a third-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals. He spent the 2013 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the Ravens signed him on Sept. 3.
Fleming appeared in 23 games (three starts) and recorded 20 tackles (17 solo) prior to joining the Chiefs where he has appeared in three games, including Sunday.
Sunday marked his first start since 2012, and Reid came away impressed.
“I thought Fleming did a nice job in there,” the head coach said. “I was proud for the job he did. I mentioned that yesterday (Sunday) after the game, and after watching the tape I thought he backed it up.”
Fleming recorded a team-high six tackles against the Chargers, but he had bad moments as the Chargers appeared to test Fleming early in the first quarter.
Quarterback Philip Rivers connected with wide receiver Keenan Allen on two straight pass completions with Fleming defending.
Fleming also drew two pass interference penalties on the game.
“Can he do better?” Reid said. “Yeah. I mean, there are some plays he can do better on. But I thought he competed for the first time out there.”
Reid and general manager John Dorsey have shown no fear in shaking up the defensive secondary.
The Chiefs entered training camp without 2013 safeties Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps, both of whom were allowed to leave via free agency.
Defensive back Ron Parker sat atop the depth chart over Sean Smith at right cornerback, and the Chiefs cut ties with cornerback Brandon Flowers on June 13. Other changes included the Chiefs signing cornerback Chris Owens as a free agent in May and used a third-round pick on cornerback Phillip Gaines.
Gaines made his first career start Sunday against the Chargers at the nickel position in place of Owens, who was out with a knee injury.
Identifying and being comfortable with the assembled talent has played a role in the Chiefs’ willingness to go a different direction when necessary.
And it starts with what the coaching staff observes every day.
“Basically practice,” Reid explained, “That’s where you’re at now, and/or play on special teams. Gaines, Fleming, in those cases there those guys showed you good stuff on special teams, and then in practice.”