Marcus Peters projects high confidence as Chiefs’ first-round pick

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – New Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters stood tall in the hallway following his introductory press conference Saturday morning at the team’s training facility.

The first-round pick (18th overall) moved from interview to interview with various members of the media, exchanging firm handshakes, smiling, shoulders square, making eye contact and patiently answering the barrage of questions.

Washington defensive back Marcus Peters warms up before facing Colorado in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Washington defensive back Marcus Peters warms up before facing Colorado in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A firm realization occurred from observing and listening to him: Peters is extremely confident.

The first hint of his level of poise arrived Thursday night during a conference call with the Chiefs media shortly after the Chiefs selected him.

“You’re out there playing against another man who is basically now trying to take your place and try and make your team lose a game, and I’m not having that,” Peters said. “I am going to do whatever it takes to protect my island and protect my team, first and foremost.”

A cornerback possessing that mentality is critical given the nature of his job.

The 6-0, 197-pound Peters plays a position requiring a short memory, the ability to shake off a bad play and a high level of self-assurance in ability.

He displayed those traits in 34 career games at the University of Washington, where Peters recorded 129 tackles (95 solo), a sack, 11 interceptions, 35 passes defensed, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

“When you turn on the film you see it,” coach Andy Reid said. “I’m also friends with his head coach (Chris Petersen) at Washington and the one at SC (Steve Sarkisian), who was at Washington. Both of them told me that he loves the game and loves to play. He’s a coach’s kid, so he’s been raised around it and you can see that in his play. The way he goes about his business, he does a nice job.”

Peters, who said he learned how to develop confidence from his parents, had his share of battles in the Pac 12 against some of the top wide receivers in the country.

The native of Oakland, Calif., believes those matchups prepared him for the NFL.

And he will see the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders of the Denver Broncos, Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers, A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers, among others, in 2015.

He will also see a pair of high-profile rookie receivers in Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders and Kevin White of the Chicago Bears during the upcoming season.

Staying true to his confident nature, Peters didn’t flinch when asked about the prospects of squaring off against the NFL’s best wide receivers, some of whom carry All-Pro and Pro Bowl titles next to names.

“I’m here to be good and learn how to be great just like they are,” he said.

Peters plays defense with a chip on his shoulder, and it provides an aggressive streak when he is on the field attacking the football.

The Chiefs don’t want Peters to lose that attribute.

“I think at certain positions, it is helpful to have that passion,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said after Peters’ introductory press conference. “I know that Coach Reid is a big believer in that. He likes to let the players show their emotion.”

There is, of course, a line the Chiefs don’t want Peters to cross.

“Now, at the same time, he (Reid) balances that with he doesn’t want players who are doing things that are going to cause us to lose the game by making stupid mistakes on the field,” Hunt said. “But he is a believer in that. He is a believer in letting the players show their passion, not only on game day, but also in practice. He thinks it’s good for the team.”

Oct 19, 2013; Tempe, AZ; Washington defensive back Marcus Peters (21) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 19, 2013; Tempe, AZ; Washington defensive back Marcus Peters (21) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

For his part, Peters is appreciative the coaching staff, especially Reid, wants him to be himself on the football field.

“That’s real big,” Peters said. “Everything that comes along with my character is going to be with me forever, but I change some of my ways as I go about handling some things and that’s real big for me, too.”

Peters said he understands the importance of achieving a balance between cockiness and a cool head when he is on the field and off the field.

He learned from his experience at Washington when a series of run-ins with the coaching staff and disciplinary actions led to his dismissal from the Huskies football program in November 2014.

But Peters and the school moved beyond the past to a current good relationship.

“With me being gone from the organization for the few months and to come back and to be welcomed by my teammates and the University, it just felt good,” Peters said. “Me and Coach Petersen, we had plenty of talks and I’m just thankful for everything. He said I am more than welcome to come around the program and be with my teammates anytime.”

The fresh slate as Peters enters the NFL, however, may not affect how opponents view him.

The Chiefs face a slew of savvy quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco, among others, in 2015.

And Peters said he knows teams will test him on the field given his history at Washington.

But whenever it occurs, opponents won’t find an insecure player who will succumb to the pressure.

“It’s a part of the game now,” Peters said. “I put it out there to be seen by the world, so there are some veterans out there that are going to use that. We take it as it comes.”

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Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter:

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