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L’Jarius Sneed has developed into the player the Chiefs need right now

Kansas City’s third-year corner has now grown into a role that has opened up the defense.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs’ first playoff game will be a rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars this Saturday at Arrowhead. Fresh off an improbable comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers, it’s clear this is not the same Jacksonville team the Chiefs faced in Week 10.

The defense will have multiple receivers to strategize against. Defensive backs coach Dave Merritt is once again counting on cornerback L’Jarius Sneed’s laser focus on defending a particular wideout.

“He’s able to go in and study a particular guy,” noted Merritt, “which frees him up from trying to study everyone. He’s done a great job with that, so the more that he can improve on being able to go and matchup on a No. 1 receiver for us is going to help us out.”

Merritt is impressed with the third-year corner’s film study habits and takeaways.

“Every time that I speak with L.J. [about] some of the film study that he’s had,” said Merritt, “it matches up with what I’ve seen as well.”

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs
L’Jarius Sneed returns a fourth quarter interception against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on January 1, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was quick to praise the Jacksonville receivers’ speed and size — which are among the factors that will determine how Sneed is utilized against them.

“They’ve got some big receivers,” explained Spagnuolo. “They all can run. The things we look at [are] size and how fast. And then we try to look for the matchups and then go from there.”

Merritt says that Sneed’s maturity has built trust between himself and the coaching staff.

“This is Year 3 for L.J.,” he noted. “So this is something I would not have done with L.J. his first year. They have to mature and grow into that role, I believe — and L.J. is at that point.”

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