Marcus Peters’ combination of athletic skill, aggressiveness and edge has made him not only an All-Pro cornerback, but someone capable of getting under an opponent’s skin.
During his two-year NFL career, he has bumped heads with a number of notable receivers –– Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, Oakland’s Michael Crabtree and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen, to name a few –– all of whom have taken veiled shots at Peters afterward.
Allen even threw some shade back at Peters before the season finale last December despite being unable to play. Nursing a season-ending injury he suffered in the opener against the Chiefs, he tweeted: “I know who happy I’m not playing this week! Haha #bum.”
Peters took the high road then, wishing Allen a speedy recovery and noting the “fans are missing him.”
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But when asked Friday about those comments, and how he has consistently seemed to rise to the challenge when others talk trash, Peters decided to have some fun.
“Because they’re my kids,” Peters said with a deadpan stare. “If you’ve got a lot of kids, then you know you’re going to get the back-talk. I don’t worry about that. I’m a dad, man. You gotta live and take it as it goes.”
Asked specifically about last year’s opener, in which Allen caught six passes for 63 yards –– some of those on Peters –– before suffering an ACL tear in the second quarter, Peters continued.
“I got hella kids, man –– I gotta take care of these kids,” Peters continued. “I can’t worry about the individual kid. I have to take care of the whole family.”
All in good fun, but you can bet it’ll be strictly business when the two meet again on Sunday. Peters has displayed such a penchant for interceptions when challenged by an opponent that his teammates don’t mind when he’s challenged publicly.
“He plays better when he’s (mad),” Chiefs veteran inside linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “You might say it doesn’t take him much to get (mad), but he does play better when he’s (mad).
“When we see that, we love it. And two-two (Peters wears jersey No. 22) loves it. He does. He gets up for it.”
The Chiefs will need Peters to be at his best on Sunday against the 25-year-old Allen, who has proven to be a terrific receiver when healthy. Through two games this year, Allen has recorded 14 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown ... numbers that have caught the attention of Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
“Great route runner –– runs routes and sticks them very well,” Sutton said. “He’s good at the high part of the route, getting out of the cut and driving. He’s very competitive, very willing to take it in underneath, over the middle. He’s very tough, the kind of guy you’d want on your football team.”
The Chiefs have opted to not double-team Allen in the past. The Chargers’ scheme, which features lots of bunch formations and crossing concepts, makes doing so difficult.
But he’s someone that needs to be accounted for at all times.
“You’ve got to know where he’s at,” Sutton said. “If you’re covering him, you gotta know one thing: ‘I better be ready to compete,’ because he’s going to compete. Sure he will (let you know about it), and most of his work, he’s probably got a right to say a couple things.”
If Allen catches a few passes and starts yapping on Sunday, there’s little doubt Peters will be intent on responding with his play.
“He’s a guy that can talk it, then say, ‘I’m gonna show you,’” Johnson said of Peters. “He’s a different personality, and we actually let him be him.”
That means embracing Peters’ natural competitiveness, which revealed itself Friday when he talked about why his emotions always seem on boil.
“If you don’t do it, then you’re just gonna look weak,” Peters said. “They’ll dog you and talk about you and come at you again. But it’s all good. You’ve got to just be yourself and let (that stuff) roll off.”
That will be easier said than done for one of the most passionate Chiefs.
“Marcus is, like we’ve talked about many times, highly competitive,” Sutton said. “He’s got his own music out there and he does a pretty good job with it. So he knows the most important thing is, any of this stuff –– whether you’re worried about how the official is calling it or a playing (talking to him) –– if it takes you off your game, then it’s no longer an advantage.
Both teammates and coaches say they’ve seen Peters grow in the two-plus years he’s been in Kansas City.
“I think he’s grown up some,” Johnson said. “He’s at the point where he’s like, ‘Alright, I’ll get my punches in, but I’m not going to cost us.’”
In fact, both Sutton and head coach Andy Reid said they didn’t need to speak to Peters this week about the importance of keeping his cool.
“Every year he’s been here, he’s got better,” Sutton said. “I always tell you guys –– one of the things that goes unnoticed about Marcus is that he’s a very sharp guy, a guy with really good football IQ. He knows formations, he understands splits. There’s a lot of information that he’s getting pre-snap that helps him, and it flows right into his athletic ability and those special qualities he has playing the ball.
“(Marcus) is pretty good at taking somebody out of their game, so I think he’ll be fine. Marcus is Marcus. I mean, he enjoys playing. He enjoys competition. That’s just the way he’s built.”
Instead of trying to change him, the Chiefs have sought to nurture that part of Peters’ psyche, an effort that starts with the head coach.
“He loves challenges,” Reid said. “He knows (No.) 13 (Allen) can play. That’s what you pay for, to watch guys like that compete. That’s what it’s all about.”
Peters is well aware.
“You’re gonna have good days as a dad, you’re gonna have bad days as a dad,” Peters said, when asked a final time about the matchup. “At the end of the day, as long as you’ve got kids, you’re still a daddy.”