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Justin Reid: ‘We don’t have rookies anymore’

The veteran safety implies that once the playoffs start, the first-year players need to step up.

Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The youthful secondary of the Kansas City Chiefs has garnered a lot of respect from veteran safety Justin Reid — so much so, in fact, that the expectations Reid has for the core of the secondary no longer include grace for rookies.

“First and foremost, I’m just going to go ahead and say it — we don’t have rookies anymore,” Reid stated. “They’ve had enough experience (and) they’ve had enough games under their belt. They’re first-year players still but that title, rookie, we really want to throw that out the window because of the experience and the snaps they have under their belt, the pelts they have on the wall and also just to encourage them to take just a little more ownership and leadership in continuing to grow and mature and be dominate.”

The timing of the secondary’s success could not have been more perfect, according to Reid, who is also pleased with the development of fellow safety Juan Thornhill.

Seattle Seahawks v Kansas City Chiefs
Juan Thornhill celebrates with the defense after an interception against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

“A lot of players in our secondary are really getting hot at the right time…you really want to start catching fire at this time of year,” Reid said. “Juan’s doing a great job playing well, he’s making plays on the ball…I’m excited to see him keep growing and keep putting his stamp on this franchise and the NFL.”

Reid says that for the rookies to have a successful postseason, they will need to be prepared for how much the game changes speed from regular to postseason.

“As December comes around, eventually January (and) eventually February, things are only going to get faster,” explained Reid. “There is no way to really prepare them for how the speed will change, other than to continue to harp on how you can get better day in and day out and challenge yourself week in and week out to execute on all the details.”

When the playoffs roll around, the stakes are high, and the microscope under which players are scrutinized tightens. There is no room for error in the postseason when it’s win or go home.

Reid says the Chiefs’ performance over the next two games will help the team develop the confidence needed to be a threat in the postseason.

“Mistakes are magnified in the playoffs (and) the speed of the game is a lot faster, but (the secondary is) ready for it,” he said. “The best way to have confidence going into the playoffs is to make sure that we finish out this week strong and the next week strong, so they don’t feel like there are any weaknesses going into the playoffs for us.”

Earlier in the season, the Chiefs’ secondary faced notable wide receivers Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills) and Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders). Both receivers have lengthy highlight reels, and Reid says that going up against caliber receivers like Diggs and Adams is instrumental in confidence development.

“There’s no better teacher than experience, and since they got to be on the same field as those guys and [it] gives them the confidence to say, ‘I belong here. I’ve lined up with the best of the best, and I’ve held my own.’

“That type of confidence is going to come through for us when we need it to.”

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