Kansas City Chiefs: Ron Parker

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t waver from their commitment to starting cornerback Ron Parker in their return to training camp at Missouri Western State University. Two days after Parker was burned for a long pass and a touchdown and penalized twice during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Parker was still in the starting lineup, with veteran Sean Smith running second-team.

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“He’s got to be like any player, especially being out on the edges," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “You need to have a short-term memory. You need to learn from whatever happened to you out there. He needs to play that particular route better."

Meanwhile, Smith intercepted a pass in his first play as Parker’s replacement against the Bengals and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Though the differing levels of play between Parker and Smith weren’t enough to prompt the Chiefs into a lineup change, Sutton indicated such a move might not be far off.

“There’s far less separating them than it might appear," Sutton said. “I hope they make it a hard decision. That would be the best thing for us. That would be great."

Smith started 15 games for the Chiefs last season, plus the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Parker was a backup except in the season-ending game against San Diego, when the Chiefs rested many of their starters.

“You want it to be a battle," Parker said. “You want it to be a competition."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sean Smith couldn't wait to start his touchdown dance and, really, could you blame him? The Kansas City Chiefs' most accomplished cornerback, Smith had been demoted during spring practice to second team.

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But here he was, on his first play of Thursday night's preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals after replacing starter Ron Parker, making an interception. Smith then ran alone down the sideline and began the festivities well before he got to the end zone, which he eventually did to complete his 36-yard touchdown.

"It's never too early," Smith would say later, after the Chiefs completed a 41-39 victory, "to celebrate."

Smith will find out Saturday when the Chiefs return to training camp whether he was also celebrating a return to the starting lineup. But such a move wouldn't be a surprise, given the way Smith and Parker played.

While Smith made one of the game's big plays, Parker allowed one. He was burned by Cincinnati's AJ Green for a 53-yard gain and also was penalized twice for illegal contact, though one of the calls was declined.

Smith also picked up a penalty but more than made up for it with his big interception return.

"Beautiful play," said coach Andy Reid, who wouldn't commit to Smith's return to the starting lineup. "Played physical. Had the one penalty but he had a huge play there. He's been working his tail off."

The Chiefs need Smith in their starting lineup. He's big and can be physical with opposing receivers, a must in the Chiefs' defensive system. He's a much better option for the Chiefs than Parker, a journeyman who joined the Chiefs off waivers last year.

The Chiefs left themselves thin at cornerback when they released veteran Brandon Flowers during the offseason. They need Smith's veteran presence in their lineup more than ever and shouldn't waste any more time making that happen.

Camp preview: Kansas City Chiefs

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
10:00
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NFL Nation reporter Adam Teicher examines the three biggest issues facing the Kansas City Chiefs heading into training camp.

Where is Houston? Having outperformed the contract he signed with the Chiefs as a third-round draft pick in 2011, outside linebacker Justin Houston was absent for all the offseason practices, including the mandatory minicamp. Since Houston’s only leverage for getting a contract extension this year is to stay away from camp until he gets it, it's unlikely he will show without a new deal. That would be a tough blow for the Chiefs. Houston is their top proven pass-rusher and arguably their best all-around defensive player. The pass rush, which was on a record pace for sacks over the first half of last season, sagged measurably after a dislocated elbow caused him to miss the final five regular-season games. The Chiefs would not be left without quality edge pass-rushers. Veteran Tamba Hali, another Pro Bowler, is on the other side, and the Chiefs drafted Auburn’s Dee Ford in the first round. Ford looked promising as a pass-rusher during offseason practice, but it’s a bit much to expect him to immediately be as versatile as Houston. Ford was a defensive end in college and has much to learn before he is on Houston’s level.

Who is at corner? The Chiefs released Brandon Flowers last month, leaving them perilously thin at cornerback. With the exception of 5-foot-9 nickelback Chris Owens, all their remaining cornerbacks are big and capable of getting physical with opposing receivers, as the Chiefs prefer. But the quality is a concern. Veteran Sean Smith steps in as the top cornerback, and he held his own as a starter last season. Marcus Cooper will at least begin camp as the other starter. As a rookie, he played well for the first half of last season as the third cornerback, but his play tailed off badly in the second half, to the point that the Chiefs benched him. Cooper has the physical tools to be a decent starter, but he showed over the final few games of last season that he has a lot to learn. The Chiefs drafted Phillip Gaines of Rice in the third round this year, but during offseason practice it didn’t look like he was ready to contribute. Journeyman Ron Parker played well in his one start last season. But he got a lot of playing time during the offseason and was often exposed.

A rebound for Bowe? In September, Dwayne Bowe turns 30, an ominous age for a wide receiver because that is when many begin to lose their skills. That process might already have started for Bowe, who had the worst full statistical season of his career in 2013. Still, Bowe represents the Chiefs’ most realistic hope for improvement at what was largely an unproductive position last season. The Chiefs added former Canadian League star Weston Dressler and drafted speedy De'Anthony Thomas in the fourth round, but they are slot receivers and are merely trying to replace the production lost with the free-agent departure of Dexter McCluster. Otherwise, the Chiefs will go with the same uninspiring cast of receivers as last season, meaning Bowe needs to get back to what he was earlier in his career. That is not an unreasonable expectation. Bowe was never particularly fast, so he doesn’t have a lot of speed to lose. The Chiefs need to do a better job of playing to his strengths, the main one being his ability to find yards after the catch. The Chiefs should get back to the bubble screens that were so productive for Bowe earlier in his career.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some observations from Kansas City Chiefs' practice:
  • Depth at slot receiver has been eroded. Weston Dressler was the latest casualty when he pulled up after a play and grabbed his left leg. Dressler injured his hamstring and didn't return to practice. He might not return before offseason practice concludes with next week's three-day mini-camp. Other top slot receiver candidates who haven't been working recently include Junior Hemingway (illness), Kyle Williams (rehabbing after last year's ACL surgery) and rookie De'Anthony Thomas (ineligible under NFL rules to begin practice until next week). Frankie Hammond Jr., who spent all of last season on the practice squad as an undrafted rookie, has been getting a lot of the work and making the most of it.
  • Running back Jamaal Charles was absent from practice for personal reasons.
  • Cornerback Sean Smith is still running second-team because of his demotion for his recent DUI. But Smith had a pair of interceptions in a 7-on-7 drill. He picked off a pass from Chase Daniel that was deflected by tight end Richard Gordon. Smith intercepted another pass when Tyler Bray was late with a throw intended for Darryl Surgent.
  • Dwayne Bowe had the catch of the day when he hauled in a pass from Alex Smith despite good coverage by Ron Parker, who is Sean Smith's replacement. Parker was in position to make the interception but didn't adjust to the ball and left a small opening for Bowe to make the catch. Parker got even two plays later when he broke up a Smith pass, also intended for Bowe.
  • Safety Daniel Sorensen, an undrafted rookie, showed great instincts when he got a great jump on a Daniel throw intended for tight end Sean McGrath to make an interception.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At their latest practice, the Kansas City Chiefs lined up with second-year player Marcus Cooper as their top cornerback, veteran journeyman Ron Parker as the other starter and developmental player Malcolm Bronson as the nickel back.

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It's only June and offseason practice, but regardless of the time of year it's not a good look that the Chiefs are having to dig deep into their depth chart to line up at a crucial position. It got even uglier when wide receiver Donnie Avery got behind Parker in practice to catch a long touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith.

One of the normal starting cornerbacks, Sean Smith, has been dropped to second team after his recent arrest for DUI. Smith will eventually be back in the starting lineup, but an NFL suspension for violation of the substance abuse policy looms with him.

The other starter, Brandon Flowers, hasn't been participating in offseason practice and it's unclear whether he will show for next week's minicamp, the only mandatory event of the offseason, or even for training camp. The usual nickelback, Chris Owens, is out with an injury.

So while the start of training camp is more than a month away, it's not too early to be alarmed with what's going on at cornerback. The Chiefs ask much of their cornerbacks. They play a lot of press coverage and are often left without much help from the safety. It's not ideal for the Chiefs to have backups in their starting lineup at those positions or be forced to back off the way coordinator Bob Sutton wants to play because they do.

Maybe Flowers eventually shows up, Smith gets promoted back into the lineup and Owens returns healthy. Then the Chiefs can relax at cornerback. Until all of that happens, they need to be concerned.
Last week's signing of veteran nickelback Chris Owens was an interesting one for the Chiefs. Owens has been an effective player covering opposing slot receivers the past five seasons, first for the Atlanta Falcons and then last season for the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.

Owens joins a group of cornerbacks for the Chiefs that includes starters Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith, backup Marcus Cooper and a group of younger, developmental players that includes Ron Parker, who played well in a limited number of snaps last season. That doesn't account for safety Husain Abdullah, who played some at cornerback in 2013.

That's not a drastic change from last season. Owens in effect takes the roster spot of Dunta Robinson, who was released at the end of last season. Robinson played most of his 252 snaps last season early in the year before he was benched for ineffective play.

I have my doubts whether this group is strong enough to compete week in and week out. The drop in Flowers' play last season was troubling and could be a sign he isn't a good fit in coordinator Bob Sutton's defensive schemes, ones that require the cornerbacks to play a lot of press coverage.

The Chiefs have to match up next season with, among others, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos. Do you feel better about their ability to do that with more success than they did last season?

I didn't think so. So cornerback is on my list of positions to watch for the Chiefs in the first round this year. If, say, Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State is available when the Chiefs make the 23rd overall pick, it would be a mistake for them to pass on him. While the signing of Owens might make for a good start for the Chiefs in upgrading at cornerback, it shouldn't be the end of their effort.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Maybe wide receiver Weston Dressler will be the latest in a line of Canadian Football League players who finds the transition to the NFL to be too difficult. Maybe he will follow players like Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia and Cameron Wake and become a star in the American game.

He will probably land somewhere in between. But whatever happens with Dressler, don’t blame the effort of the Kansas City Chiefs. They signed Dressler, who played the last six seasons with Saskatchewan Roughriders. He caught 442 passes for more than 6,500 yards and scored 43 touchdowns.

General manager John Dorsey has shown a willingness to look in some offbeat places for players. It already paid off to an extent last season when the Chiefs claimed seven players off waivers at the start of the regular season. Three of them – defensive backs Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker and tight end Sean McGrath – helped them win a game at one point or another.

The Chiefs last year signed undrafted free agent Demetrius Harris, a tight end who had been a football star in high school in Arkansas but switched to basketball in college at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Harris is raw and may never develop into a productive player but he’s shown the necessary skills and is worth the minimal investment the Chiefs made in him.

Dorsey also loaded the Chiefs’ practice squad with developmental prospects from small schools like Lane, West Alabama, California (Pa.) and Shepherd in the hope of mining a productive player.

The Chiefs will have to continue with this kind of thinking during the offseason. They won’t have the kind of salary-cap flexibility they’ve had the past few seasons. They probably won’t be able to win any bidding wars in free agency.

Their biggest veteran additions may be role players like Dressler, who could replace Dexter McCluster as the slot receiver and punt returner. It’s a good thing Dorsey is making the effort and he should keep trying even if Dressler doesn’t eventually work out.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Moving on with our roster series to the secondary, where the Kansas City Chiefs have big money invested in a couple of their players.

Roster (15): Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry, Malcolm Bronson, Sanders Commings, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps, Brandon Flowers, Vernon Kearney, Kendrick Lewis, Jerron McMillian, Ron Parker, Dunta Robinson, Kevin Rutland, Sean Smith, DeMarcus Van Dyke

Potential 2014 free agents: Abdullah, Demps, Lewis.

The position: The Chiefs have much invested in strong safety Eric Berry and cornerback Brandon Flowers. Both are Pro Bowlers this season. Berry, who will count about $11.6 million against their salary cap in 2014, played like one this season. He is perhaps the best strong safety in the NFL but he comes at a cost. His contract is the one he signed as a rookie under the old collective bargaining agreement in 2010, when those selected near the top of the draft were paid like stars.

Flowers didn’t play like a Pro Bowler for much of the season. He will count $10.5 million against the cap this year, a figure far too high for what the Chiefs received from him in 2013. The Chiefs should keep Flowers unless a better alternative comes along at a lower price, an unlikely scenario. Still, Flowers is one player who must do better in 2014.

Elsewhere at cornerback, the Chiefs have Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper. Smith is a capable veteran. Cooper started his rookie season by playing well and then faltered over the season’s second half. Having another capable backup at corner wouldn’t hurt. Berry is the only safety with much experience so the Chiefs have plenty of work to do there. Lewis was the starting free safety last season, but his contract is up and the Chiefs shouldn’t give him big money. The Chiefs liked Commings, a fifth-round draft pick last season, before he broke his collarbone early in training camp. It ruined his rookie season but don’t be surprised if he’s the starting free safety next season. The Chiefs would be wise to bring back Abdullah and Demps as backups if the price is reasonable. Abdullah can play some nickel corner if needed.

The Chiefs should keep: Abdullah, Berry, Commings, Cooper, Demps, Flowers and Smith.

The Chiefs should dump: Bronson, Kearney, Lewis, McMillian, Parker, Robinson, Rutland and Van Dyke.

Free agency/draft priority: The Chiefs will need some more bodies here for depth if nothing else. But they don’t need to spend a lot or use a high draft pick on a defensive back.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- John Dorsey has made many correct moves since joining the Kansas City Chiefs as their general manager a year ago. Along with coach Andy Reid, he helped set the much-needed tone of professionalism throughout the organization. He led the charge in the trade for quarterback Alex Smith, though with the Chiefs desperate for a quarterback the deal with the San Francisco 49ers made too much sense for it not to happen.

Dorsey was named as the NFL’s Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writer’s Association. There’s no greater example of where Dorsey shined in Year 1 with the Chiefs than his move shortly before the start of the regular season.

The Chiefs, who at the time were still first in line for waiver claims, grabbed seven players in an effort improve the bottom of the roster. Three came from the Seattle Seahawks and two from the 49ers, two of the deepest teams in the NFL.

Three of those players helped the Chiefs this season and could continue to do so in 2014. Rookie Marcus Cooper, from the 49ers, became the Chiefs’ third cornerback early in the season and, despite hitting a rough patch late in the season, probably has more immediate impact than any of Kansas City’s other rookies. That includes tackle Eric Fisher, the first pick in last year’s draft.

Two players plucked from the Seahawks, tight end Sean McGrath and cornerback Ron Parker, also made contributions. McGrath was fifth on the Chiefs with 26 catches and also scored two touchdowns.

Parker helped preserve a one-point, early-season win over the Dallas Cowboys with a sack and a forced fumble.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Oct. 6 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans was scoreless in the first quarter when Dustin Colquitt’s 40-yard punt bounced off the foot of Tennessee’s Damian Williams and caromed into the end zone.

The mad dash for the ball was won by none other than Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper and the resulting touchdown gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead in a game they would eventually win 26-17 to raise their record to 5-0.

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Cooper had joined the Chiefs only a few weeks earlier, off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers at the start of the regular season. The fumble recovery was not the only contribution Cooper made during the season. After quickly becoming Kansas City’s third cornerback, Cooper had three interceptions and other than a horrible three-game stretch toward the end of the season played better than the Chiefs had a right to expect.

The Chiefs did a nice job of taking the castoffs from other teams and turning them into necessary components. Cooper was the prime example. A converted wide receiver, Cooper played just two seasons of defensive back in college at Rutgers but the Chiefs saw enough in him to not only claim him when the 49ers waived Cooper but also use him regularly.

Other players who joined the Chiefs off waivers at the start of the regular season were tight end Sean McGrath and cornerback Ron Parker, both from the Seattle Seahawks.

Tight end was a position for the Chiefs that was often plagued by injuries. McGrath was often the only healthy player at the position. He wound up leading Chiefs' tight ends with 26 catches and also scored a pair of touchdowns.

Parker helped preserve a one-point win against the Dallas Cowboys in September with a sack and a forced fumble. He also was a standout in the final regular season game against the San Diego Chargers when the Chiefs rested many of their starting players.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
7:41
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SAN DIEGO -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs27-24 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: The Chiefs have some good backup players. They took the Chargers deep into the fourth quarter before San Diego tied the score and then outlasted the Chiefs in overtime. Because the Chiefs were locked into the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs, a victory was meaningless. So coach Andy Reid rested 20 of Kansas City’s 22 starters, including all 11 on defense. With Chase Daniel making his first NFL start, the Chiefs put in a solid effort on both sides of the ball and almost denied the Chargers the AFC’s final playoff spot. The Chiefs finished the regular season at 11-5, an improvement of nine wins over 2012.

Stock watch: Rookie running back Knile Davis, playing for Jamaal Charles, started his first NFL game and delivered 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Daniel played about as well as the Chiefs could expect, completing 21 of 30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. Daniel also ran for 59 yards. An offensive line comprised of four backups and rookie right tackle Eric Fisher kept Daniel from being under consistent pressure and opened some nice holes for Davis. Cornerback Ron Parker had an interception to set up a Kansas City touchdown. Kicker Ryan Succop was wide right on a 41-yard field-goal attempt with eight seconds left in regulation that would have won the game for the Chiefs.

What's next: Heading to Indianapolis. The Chiefs will play the Colts in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The 11-5 Colts, winners of the AFC South, beat the Chiefs 23-7 at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 22 by forcing four turnovers while committing none of their own. The Colts have beaten the Chiefs all three times the teams have met in the playoffs, in the 1995, 2003 and 2006 seasons.

Chiefs returning to full health

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
5:40
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The four regulars who missed last week's game for the Kansas City Chiefs because of injuries returned to practice in some form Wednesday. At least one of them appears to have a good chance of playing Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium.

Tight end Anthony Fasano, who missed the last two games because of a concussion, was listed as a full practice participant on the Chiefs' injury report. Also listed as a full participant was right tackle Eric Fisher, who left last week's game in Oakland early because of a shoulder injury.

Three players were listed as limited participants: wide receiver Dexter McCluster (ankle), linebacker Justin Houston (elbow) and left tackle Branden Albert (knee). None of the three played against the Raiders. Albert's participation was limited to working on the scout team.

Four other players were listed as full practice participants: tight end Sean McGrath (knee), linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Nico Johnson (ankle) and defensive back Ron Parker (shoulder).

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