KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper has pulled a disappearing act.
Cooper, who started the season at left cornerback, hasn’t logged a defensive snap in three straight games despite the absence of cornerback Jamell Fleming.
“He’s practicing hard and we’ll just see how things work out,” coach Andy Reid said of Cooper during a Friday morning conference call with beat writers. “Everybody has. You’ve got to stay on your ready at all times.”
Maintaining readiness is one thing, but how the Chiefs have handled Cooper intrigues when considering Fleming has missed four straight games after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 8.
Cooper lost the starting job to Fleming after the Week 6 bye and didn’t record a defensive snap in Week 7.
With Fleming down, the Chiefs bypassed Cooper and turned to rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines at left cornerback in Week 9, and then Ron Parker the last three games.
Nickel cornerback Chris Owens aggravated a knee injury in Week 10, and Gaines has filled in at the position.
Cooper can’t even work his way into personnel packages, and most of the second-year pro’s contributions since Week 7 have come on special teams.
The 24-year-old Cooper appeared in 16 games with six starts in 2013.
He and right cornerback Sean Smith appeared to have a lock on the starting jobs at the conclusion of training camp, and even five games into the season.
But competition being what it is, the Chiefs went with Fleming, Parker and Gaines after apparently evaluating the position during the bye week.
“They got in and did a good job,” Reid said of the trio. “That’s what happened.”
Thursday night’s results had the feel of a trap game, especially given the 24-20 loss came against an Oakland Raiders team that entered the contest without a win on the season.
It was a perfect storm for the Raiders to capitalize on the Chiefs coming off an emotional win against the Seattle Seahawks, and then the Chiefs had to travel to California on a short week.
But Reid wasn’t offering an excuse the morning after.
“I thought the guys were ready to go,” Reid said. “We didn’t take advantages of some opportunities early and it swung. I know their record was 0-10, but it’s evident when you turn on the tape and you study them that they’ve got some good football players. Against the best of teams, they were in it or ahead getting close into the third quarter, fourth quarter.”
Reid emphasized the need to execute on offense and defense, and said the Chiefs can continue to improve.
Ultimately, Thursday night was the Chiefs’ turn to fall in the category of anything can and will happen on a football field against an opponent many felt wouldn’t offer much resistance.
“I didn’t feel it was a letdown, the guys didn’t work hard and all that,” Reid said. “It was one of those deals.”
NOTES: Reid didn’t have updates on offensive lineman Donald Stephenson (shoulder), wide receiver Junior Hemingway (concussion) and defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson (calf), all of whom left Thursday night’s game … “Everything is the same from last night,” Reid said of the injured trio.