KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs surrendered 417 yards to Oakland quarterback Derek Carr in last week’s loss to the Raiders, and that futility combined with the return of cornerback Steven Nelson promoted the Chiefs to shakeup up their secondary in Monday night’s 29-19 win over the Denver Broncos.
Kenneth Acker earned his first start of the season, taking over at right cornerback for incumbent starter Terrance Mitchell. Nelson took over the team’s slot nickel role filled by Phillip Gaines through the first seven games of the season.
Head coach Andy Reid suggest Mitchell needed a breather after an up-and-down first half of the season culminating in the second-half breakdown against the Raiders.
“Sometimes it’s okay if you have a guy, a young guy that might need a step back to take a step forward,” Reid said. “Sometimes that happens.”
He said the Chiefs still consider Mitchell an asset for the team.
“Nothing is wrong with (Mitchell), he’s a good football player, we’re okay with that,” Reid said. “Sometimes just to take a step back just for minute and take a look at it from that side. We’re lucky we have him here.”
He also said Acker proved he deserved an opportunity, and the team wanted to see what he could delivery in an expanded role in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense. Acker responded with six total tackles, an interception and a pass broken up.
“He had had some snaps for us before last year,” Reid said. “We felt like he deserved an opportunity there and he did a nice job with it. And Bob rolls guys, so he’s got a bunch of different personnel groups he uses.”
Nelson also delivered a solid performance in his game back from injured reserve with a core muscle injury. The Chiefs activated Nelson Monday afternoon. He picked up four combined tackles along with a pass defended.
He admitted to having a few butterflies in his return to the field.
“Absolutely, especially for me being out and not being able to do what I love,” Nelson said. “I was cheering my teammates on but it was bitter sweet, but I am definitely glad to be back in there.”
Nelson said he feels back to his normal self after the injury.
“I feel 100 percent,” Nelson said. “I did a lot of rehab, I worked really hard. Getting back out there wasn’t anything.”
Reid said Nelson played well for his first time on the field this season.
“I felt like early he was making plays on the ball and he had opportunities there and made them and took advantage of them,” Reid said. “Later in the game there weren’t quite as many opportunities but that was just because where the quarterback was going with the ball. But I thought he really played well.”
The Chiefs have a short week ahead of them preparing to visit the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday. Reid said the quick turnaround might pose a challenge for Nelson.
“We’ve got a short week here that he’s got to bounce back from,” Reid said. “After your first game, he’s probably going to be a little tender when he wakes up in the morning just physically sore, he hasn’t played in a while.”