ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The cornerback battle is heating up with four training camp practices remaining.
Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker began training camp working with the first-team defense and were listed as the starters on the initial depth chart.
They now have company as of Sunday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Cooper, Parker and Sean Smith are rotating with the first-team defense.
“Smith is in with the ones,” Reid said. “He’s rolling with the ones and they’re really getting equal opportunity. It’s great competition right now.”
Reid points out Smith, last year’s starter at right cornerback, had a good game during the preseason opening win against the Cincinnati Bengals. Smith recorded a pick-6 while working with the second-team defense.
Meanwhile, Parker, who started at right cornerback Thursday night, was beat on a 53-yard reception by Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and a Brandon Tate 9-yard touchdown. Parker also drew an illegal contact penalty.
“It’s important we get three or four of those guys,” Reid said of the cornerback competition. “If we can get a fifth one that’s even better that we feel can jump in there and compete for us.”
Cooper, Parker, Smith and Chris Owens, who plays the nickel position, are the probable locks.
As to the fifth cornerback, Reid singled out DeMarcus Van Dyke and third-round pick Phillip Gaines.
“These guys are getting better every day,” Reid said. “That’s a good thing and they’re getting a lot of repetitions, which is important right now against good players. I’m curious to see how they carry it over as they continue to get reps in games and how they do there.”
Henry coming on
The Chiefs are giving third-year offensive lineman Ricky Henry a hard look.
Henry has emerged the last three practices to get first-team repetitions at left guard and right guard behind starters Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton.
“He’s a tough kid,” Reid said. “I’m not telling you it’s all pretty. He looks like Larry the Cable Guy and he plays like Larry the Cable Guy. He just gets in there and he’s rough and tough and scrappy and all of that.”
The 6-4, 310-pound Henry entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska with the Chicago Bears. He has played for the Bears and New Orleans Saints, recording two career appearances, before signing with the Chiefs in 2013.
Henry spent the 2013 season on injured reserve with an arm injury,
While Reid compared Henry to a well-known comedian in the looks department, the verbal jokes don’t apply
“I don’t think he’s as funny,” Reid said. “I haven’t heard him say a word. He just does his job.”
Henry’s emergence comes at the expense of Rishaw Johnson, who entered training camp with an opportunity to gain the starting job at right guard.
The depth chart will be updated before the next preseason game.
Defensive end Mike DeVito (hand), defensive end Kona Schwenke (shoulder), defensive tackle Kyle Love (ankle), kicker Ryan Succop (groin) and cornerback Damond Smith (abductor strain) did not practice Sunday.
Wide receivers Donnie Avery, who was excused from Saturday’s practice, and rookie Albert Wilson (ankle) returned to the practice field.
Day 13 practice observations
• Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson delivered arguably the biggest hit of training camp during red zone work. Quarterback Alex Smith threw a shovel pass to running back Jamaal Charles inside the 5-yard line, but Johnson met Charles in the hole for a bang-bang play, leveling Charles as the ball arrived. The play was reminiscent of the Pro Bowl game where Johnson also delivered a massive hit to his teammate. Both are University of Texas alumni. “It’s a Texas thing,” coach Andy Reid said after practice.
• The Chiefs had an intriguing defensive package with all four speed pass rushers on the field at the same time: Tamba Hali, Justin Houston Dee Ford and Josh Martin. Defensive tackle was the lone down lineman. Martin and Houston lined up over the guards, while Ford and Hali lined up outside.
• Running back Joe McKnight, who has three practices under his belt since returning from the physically unable to perform list, got some work with the second-team offensive after Knile Davis.
• Rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardif appears to be making a push on the depth chart. Duvernay-Tardif, the second of two sixth-round picks, ran with the second-team offensive line at left guard. The rest of the second-team offensive line during 11-on-11 drills shaped out with Ryan Harris at left tackle, Eric Kush at center, Rishaw Johnson at right guard and Ryan McKee at right tackle. Jeff Linkenbach, whom the Chiefs signed as a free agent in March, is seeing time with the third team.
• Left tackle Eric Fisher put in a second straight practice of participating in one-on-one drills against defensive linemen. Fisher didn’t participate in these drills prior to the preseason game.