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Kansas City Chiefs roster bubble: The secondary shuffle

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Who are the KC Chiefs locks and bubble players in the secondary? Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) gives his take as we await the start of training camp.

Kyle Rivas

The Kansas City Chiefs secondary received quite a makeover this offseason. Brandon Flowers, Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps, and Dunta Robinson are all gone from the defensive collapse. An infusion of youth was the recipe this spring.


Locks to make the roster

Marcus Cooper: The Rutgers alumnus received a trial by fire in his rookie season. Cooper, who played wide receiver at Rutgers before transitioning to cornerback, played in all 17 games. He had his peaks and valleys but remained resilient despite the second half struggle. Cooper has incredible foot quickness and underrated skill in recovering from missteps. He has solid ball tracking skills and can be physical in his press.

Husain Abdullah: Abdullah looks to secure the free safety spot in camp. He had a monster game at the spur position in the Chiefs playoff loss to the Colts. He'll be used in various ways depending on the package being run. Bob Sutton has versatility and athletic ability with Abdullah.

Eric Berry: Berry becomes the longest tenured Chief in the secondary. This is now his group to lead. Berry showed up in incredible shape during spring practices. One day Berry completed running hills after OTAs, jogged over to the media to talk and didn't have to catch his breath before the interview. It's an illustration of how dedicated he was this offseason. Berry will be used in a variety of ways this season to take advantage of his athletic ability. He will have to take ownership this season in helping position the secondary with Kendrick Lewis gone.

Sanders Commings: The fifth round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft will look to have a better season than last year. Commings broke his collarbone on the first day of rookie training camp last year. He returned for the Chiefs matchup in Denver and even showed flashes during the game before ultimately being put on injured reserve. Commings showcased his ball tracking skills and athletic ability during spring practices. He intercepted passes that were halfway across the field and baited a couple of quarterbacks into poor throws. He gives the Chiefs versatility at the safety position.

Sean Smith: The sixth year veteran had a rough season last year. Smith will be given the opportunity to bounce back this season. He is the most experienced cornerback outside of Chris Owens. He needs to showcase physical press coverage this season and avoiding his issues last season biting on double moves with an inability to recover. Smith also had a rough spring as he was cited for DUI, careless driving and failure to present insurance. Smith needs a bounce back season.

Ron Parker: Parker saw some opportunity with the first team defense during spring practices, replacing Smith after this incident. Parker is a physical corner and has solid ball tracking skills. He was consistently in position to make a play on the pass and bounced back after being beaten on a play.

Phillip Gaines: Gaines will need time to develop this season. The Rice alumnus ran a similar style of coverage in school. He can excel in press coverage. He showed impressive balance and recovery in spring practice. He slipped on the wet turf after a cut by the receiver, used his hands to keep from falling to the ground and closed the distance on the open receiver. Gaines is an intriguing one to watch when the pads come on.

Chris Owens: Owens will see plenty of time at the nickel position. He showed impressive speed during spring practices and stayed on the receivers' hip. There were not many plays made on Owens when he was in coverage.

On the bubble

Malcolm Bronson: Bronson took advantage of his opportunity during the spring. Owens got hurt during one of the practices and Bronson stepped in at his nickel position. The safety picked up where Owens left off. Bronson looked aggressive during OTAs. He tracked the ball well and stayed in good position to breakup passes. Bronson also showed play-making ability at the safety position with a couple of interceptions. He may force himself onto the roster if he continues to progress.

Vernon Kearney: Kearney has a shot to make the Chiefs roster. He began to show an aggression during spring practices. He broke up a couple of plays towards the end of OTAs and minicamp. He also saw some time as a gunner on special teams where he was very effective in getting down field by the time the ball hit the returner's hand. 

Jerron McMillian: McMillian made a handful of plays during OTAs and minicamp. He intercepted a few passes and made the most of his opportunities. He showed some good instincts. The pads may help him take that next step towards a roster spot.

DeMarcus Van Dyke: Van Dyke is one of the faster players on the team according to John Dorsey. He missed a portion of spring practices and will need to step up his performance in training camp.

Daniel Sorensen: The BYU alumnus is battling McMillian for the strong safety spot behind Eric Berry. Sorensen had a couple of interceptions during rookie camp and was one of the better athletes on the field. He blended in when the veterans arrived. He looks like a practice squad candidate unless he can stand out when the pads come on.

Kevin Rutland: Rutland has the deck stacked against him. He is buried on the depth chart.

David Van Dyke: The younger Van Dyke currently looks like a practice squad candidate

Justin Rogers: Late addition to the team.

Brandon Jones: Late addition to the team.


The secondary position is going to rely heavily on the pass rush and athleticism of the safeties. The Chiefs had to play more off and soft coverage to help avoid the exploitation of lack in speed at the safety position. The corners need to be sound in their ability to press cover and disrupt the timing of the passing game. The pads will answer that question over the next couple of weeks.