Injuries leave cornerback position on shaky ground

Kansas City Chiefs safety Leon McQuay (34) reaches for an interception on a pass intended for wide receiver Marcus Kemp (7) with cornerback Kenneth Acker (27) in coverage during a training camp practice on Aug. 3, 2017 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

The Kansas City Chiefs have reached their first major question of training camp. Do they have enough cornerback depth?

Many questioned the Chiefs’ leadership in waiting until the 6th round of the NFL Draft to select a defensive back in 2017. The team’s lack of experience at the position and a proclivity for injuries at the position made depth at corner an offseason concern.

Every team needs three starting-caliber cornerbacks in today’s NFL. It is not enough to have just a duo on the outside. The nickel corner is now considered a starter, especially in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense which relieves heavily on substitution packages.

The Chiefs have an All-Pro corner in Marcus Peters on the left side. Yet questions remain at right corner and nickel back. The depth chart also remains in flux.


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Now the Chiefs face a situation where two of their top three corners are unable to practice due to injury. Starting cornerback Terrance Mitchell went out earlier in the week with a hamstring injury. Starting cornerback Steven Nelson left practice with a groin injury on Friday. It is difficult to recover from soft tissue injuries such as these.  Athletes can easily re-injure themselves with injuries of this type.

The situation leaves the team with Phillip Gaines as the top option at right cornerback. Unfortunately Gaines carries a long injury history himself. If injuries force the team to rely on Gaines to start the season, the Chiefs may find their depth at corner challenged immediately.

That leaves younger options such as Devante Bausby and second-year corner D.J. White and as next in line to play the right cornerback position.

Digging Deeper

Looking at the second team and reserves reveals a glaring lack of experience should the team need further depth. Fourth-year player corner Kenneth Acker suffered an injury earlier in camp. Rookie Ashton Lampkin has been quiet to this point but is likely to get new opportunities if players ahead of him are out for any length of time. Lampkin also remains a candidate for the practice squad.

In the wake of not addressing the cornerback position in the draft, a change is likely. Expect the team to pickup another cornerback soon.

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