KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs used two safeties at the nickel cornerback position in consecutive games to compensate the loss of cornerback Phillip Gaines, who suffered an ACL tear in Week 3.
Tyvon Branch got the first chance after Gaines went down against the Green Bay Packers, and then the Chiefs turned to Ron Parker over cornerbacks Jamell Fleming and Marcus Cooper against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.
“I don’t look at Parker as a safety,” coach Andy Reid said Monday during a conference call. “I look at him as a guy that can do both, that’s why we moved him in there.”
Parker, who is listed as the starting strong safety on the depth chart, had 11 starts at strong safety and four starts at left cornerback in 2014.
And Parker’s experience to play the cornerback position contributed to the decision to give Parker a shot inside against Cincinnati.
“That’s a different position in there to play,” Reid said. “Parker did it against San Diego a year or two ago and did a pretty good job against (wide receiver Eddie) Royal, so he had a little more experience than those other guys playing in there. I think that’s important. The responsibilities in there, it’s a little different than playing on the outside.”
Parker played all 54 snaps on defense against the Bengals, and finished the game totaling eight tackles (five solo).
Cooper and Fleming played no snaps on defense. Cooper and Fleming, however, played on special teams with Cooper totaling 15 snaps and Fleming totaling 12.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton finished the game with 321 yards passing, marking the second straight game the Chiefs have allowed a 300-yard passer. The Chiefs pass defense did not allow a 300-yard passer the entire 2014 season.
SPEAKING OF NICKEL POSITION
The Chiefs used the second of two third-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft on cornerback Steven Nelson, who is learning how to play the nickel position after playing outside in college at Oregon State.
Nelson, however, has been inactive the first four games.
“He’s a rookie, he still is learning,” Reid said. “That’s understandable. He’s working very hard at this thing.”
The Chiefs could use help and additional depth at the cornerback position, but Nelson will need to show the coaching staff he has a good grasp of the position.
“We’ll see how things look this week and we try to evaluate all of our talent every week,” Reid said. “You kind of go through and evaluate everything, but you evaluate that part of it, too, so we’ll see how things work.”
Running back Jamaal Charles played on 59 snaps on the Chiefs’ 75 total offensive snaps against the Bengals, but Reid indicated there was nothing wrong with Charles.
“He’s OK, he’s fine,” Reid said. “We try to rotate these guys the best we can so you can keep them fresh throughout the year here.”
Charles made the most of his opportunities, totaling 75 yards rushing on 11 carries and 70 yards receiving on six catches.
The 11 rushing attempts matched his carries in Week 3, and Reid indicated he was comfortable with those rushing attempts as long as Charles remained involved.
“He had a couple catches for us that were pretty good,” Reid said, “and had opportunities for a couple others that would’ve been pretty good, too. So as much as we move him around, I’m OK with that. I’m for whatever it takes to do well, that’s the most important thing.”
PLAYING TO STRENGTHS
The Chiefs utilized second-year running back Charcandrick West, who measures 5-10, 205 pounds, as the primary backup to the 5-11, 199-pound Charles instead of Knile Davis against the Bengals.
And it was apparently by design.
“You try to exploit everybody’s talents,” Reid said. “We thought that fit, we thought some of the pass game stuff fit. I haven’t lost confidence in Knile at all. That’s where I was at for that game and what I felt.”
Reid points out Davis, the bigger of the three running backs at 5-10, 227 pounds, offers power to the running game, and the Chiefs will continue to utilize each player’s skillset as necessary during a game.
“We’re lucky that we have the three of them,” Reid said. “That’s how I look at it. I think they are three important guys to have, all three of them are active. We’ll use them the way we feel is best.”
West played 17 snaps on offense, totaling 21 yards (17 rushing on five carries).
Davis didn’t record a snap on offense, but continued his role as the Chiefs primary kickoff returner, totaling four returns for 86 yards.