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Trent McDuffie says Chiefs’ defense ‘has something to prove’

Even after a championship season, Kansas City’s second-year cornerback still wants more.

NFL: JUL 23 Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 season, the team’s defensive rookies played a significant role in winning the team’s second Super Bowl in four years. Second-year cornerback Trent McDuffie — who suffered a significant injury in Week 1 of his rookie season — now says he is “feeling good” as he works through a minor injury that kept him out of Kansas City’s offseason program.

“I had a little issue with my calf,” he explained to reporters after Monday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “But right now, [I’m] working with the [training] team and just getting it right.”

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo indicated that McDuffie (and fellow cornerback L’Jarius Sneed) are both being worked into full practices.

“LJ’s coming back off an injury — [and] we know Trent is doing the same,” Spagnuolo explained on Monday. “We’ve got their rep count down right now.”

Even though McDuffie was unable to be a full participant in OTAs, he was pleased with what he saw.

“I’m excited to finally be back out there with the guys,” he shared. “Watching them during OTA’s, it was tough because I couldn’t be out there. But just watching this defense move around and get after it — and the rookies coming in and just how everything gelled together — it was exciting to watch from the sideline. It definitely made coming into this camp a lot more exciting.”

Looking to build on their notable performance last year, McDuffie says the defense is striving to increase takeaways through what Spagnuolo calls “attitude defense.”

“We know [we’ve] got guys who will make plays,” he detailed. “We can cover. We can play the zone. We can blitz the quarterback. [But] a big thing for us is just getting that ball back. I think that’s something that this defense is really going to hone in on: just making sure we don’t give up on any play.”

Compared to last year, McDuffie said that the defense is working more as a unit.

“Last year as rookies,” he recalled, “it was, ‘What are my plays?’ This year, [there is] a lot more communication. I think guys are a lot more confident out there in the plays… Just having a year being developed in the system allows us to play so much faster.”

Once he returned from injury in Week 8 of last season, McDuffie often found himself playing in the slot — but said he remains willing to play anywhere Spagnuolo wants him.

“I said, ‘Wherever you need me, I just want to be out there and be able to play for you, play for this team and be a good teammate.’ So wherever he wants me, I’m going to be ready for it.”

While acknowledging that winning a Super Bowl ring as a rookie was “great,” McDuffie said there is a new focus this season.

“[We’re] turning that page,” he said, “and being like, ‘OK, this is [a] new year. We have something else to prove.’ And I think we’re ready for that.”

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