Changes in secondary Chiefs’ primary concern

Sports Xchange

June 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the final practices of the 2014 offseason playing out this week at the Kansas City Chiefs’ three-day minicamp, it is time for major questions to get answers.

Questions like who will fill open spots in this season’s starting lineup?

Instead, five weeks before the start of training camp, Andy Reid and the Chiefs seem to have as many questions as when offseason work began. One open starting job appears to be filled as Husain Abdullah takes over one safety job, replacing four-year starter Kendrick Lewis who left as a free agent and signed with Houston.

But another starting job popped up in the secondary last week when the Chiefs released six-year left cornerback Brandon Flowers. A combination of a $10.5 million number under the salary cap this year and his poor fit for the press man-to-man coverage favored by Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, made Flowers expendable.

Now, the question arises as to who will replace Flowers in the starting lineup? Second-year cornerback Marcus Cooper appears to have the first shot, although four-year veteran Ron Parker is making a push for playing time. Plus, there’s third-round draft choice Phillip Gaines in the mix as well.

According to Cooper, the departure of Flowers has not changed anything in how he’s prepping for the coming season.

“Every day I go out there to practice with the idea that I’m the starter,” Cooper said. “I just have to keep grinding, going out every day and getting better. Everything else will fall into place.”

General manager John Dorsey likes his corners tall and lanky, much like the 6-2, 195-pound Cooper. At 5-9, 180 pounds, Flowers was one of the two smallest defensive backs on the roster. The decision was months in the coming and was largely based on the fact Flowers release would open up $7.5 million in money under the salary cap, something the Chiefs needed as they try to sign quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston to contract extensions.

“I can tell you it was not a shock; this was something that we had worked through and talked through as an organization,” Reid said. “It was best for what we’re trying to get done here.”

Cooper and Parker have been working with the first team in the last practices of the offseason due to the Flowers’ absence and the demotion of starting right cornerback Sean Smith. Smith was arrested in Kansas City earlier this month on DUI charges, and has been running with the second team since that incident.

When Smith is off the field, Cooper slides to the right side and Parker opens at left cornerback.