If there is one thing that the Kansas City Chiefs can be proud of this season, it would be the continued growth of second-year cornerback Trent McDuffie. While he showed promise during his rookie season, McDuffie has taken on a more significant role in year two, transforming the Chiefs’ secondary into one of the best in the NFL.
“I definitely think I’ve started to take on a little bit more of a role out there on the defense, especially playing that nickel position,” McDuffie said after Thursday’s practice. “There’s a lot on me as far as checks and just communicating out there on the back end with the linebackers and stuff.”
And while his performance on the field has been great, it’s McDuffie’s growth as a leader off the field that’s getting the attention of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“[McDuffie] is really developing into a slow, quiet leader,” Spagnuolo observed. “[L’Jarius Sneed] and Justin Reid are kind of the guys, but you can feel that in Trent. I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence.“
For McDuffie, being a leader is important, especially in a season where the Chiefs aren’t performing to their usual high standards. Despite only being 23 years old, he understands the importance of maintaining the habits of a winning culture and takes pride in keeping the team united during this rough stretch.
“I’m just trying to keep that positive attitude around here and keep that culture of winning. Just making sure I reiterate what the coaches are talking about, so that’s coming along quietly for sure.”
Having said that, there is one area that both the Chiefs and McDuffie know he can improve in. Through 26 games of his career, McDuffie has yet to record his first interception – something coach Spagnuolo was hoping would come last week against the Las Vegas Raiders.
“I want him to get that first interception though,” Spagnuolo said. “I thought it was coming last week. I really did. I told him that, and I think he wants that too… I’m hopeful that that can happen for him because he’s played so solid for us.”
McDuffie admits that getting his first interception matters to him. However, his determination to get that first interception is also much-needed motivation to perform at his best come game day.
“That’s always something on my mind,” McDuffie revealed. “I think it’s always on a DB’s mind is go and get that interception. But I’ve tried not to let it affect my confidence or affect my play. It definitely gives me this edge that I got to go out there and keep proving myself and keep trying to get that one.”