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Who will start opposite Charvarius Ward at cornerback on Thursday?

With Bashaud Breeland on the sidelines for four games, the AP Nerd Squad discussed which Chiefs cornerback could take his place.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

We made it! A very happy Game Week to you!

On Monday’s mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, we fielded a question about who will start opposite cornerback Charvarius Ward in Thursday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans — all because Bashaud Breeland will miss the first four weeks of the season due to a suspension.

Here are the candidates:

Rashad Fenton

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Here’s a surprising statistic: outside of Ward, second-year cornerback Rashad Fenton is the most-experienced corner in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. The South Carolina alumnus saw the majority of his 2019 reps inside — but in a limited sample size, also showed promise outside. His lack of outside experience could be a big factor in his early playing time.

L’Jarius Sneed

NFL Combine - Day 6 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Spagnuolo was flat-out giddy talking about L’Jarius Sneed after the Chiefs picked him in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Spagnuolo went as far as to say they would’ve taken him if they had held the first pick in the fourth round — only a few picks after the Chiefs selected Lucas Niang in the third round.

Sneed played primarily as a safety his final year at Louisiana Tech — but in 2018, he showed promise at corner. The Chiefs moved him to what might his more natural position — and reports have been promising. Sneed had a lot of reps with the first team in the only broadcast practice the Chiefs showed during training camp.

Antonio Hamilton

NFL: New York Giants-Training Camp Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Hamilton has earned his NFL opportunities as an ace special-teams player. But in limited defensive reps for the New York Giants last season, he flashed enough for the Chiefs to give him some looks all over the secondary; during training camp, Spagnuolo had Hamilton outside, inside and at safety. He has NFL experience outside — and plenty of athleticism. Especially in the first four weeks of the season, there’s a good chance he’ll be more than just a special teams contributor.

Prediction

My head says Fenton will be lining up outside with Ward on Thursday night. His experience and comfort in the defensive scheme — and a more-established record with the coaching staff — will give him a small leg up over the player I want to see: L’Jarius Sneed.

My hope is the Chiefs immediately throw the rookie cornerback into the fire to find out what they have. Learning that Sneed is a quality player would be significant not only for this season, but for the remainder of his rookie deal. Right off the bat, I would give Sneed every opportunity to seize that playing time.


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