No Marcus Peters on Sunday. Now what?
Facing a critical game against AFC West rival Oakland at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs will be without Peters, their top cornerback who was suspended one game by the team for leaving the field toward the end of last weekend’s loss at the New York Jets.
There’s no word yet from the Chiefs about who steps into that spot. The team’s unofficial depth chart lists Kenneth Acker as second team at Peters’ left corner position.
But that depth chart is so unofficial that Dee Ford, who has missed the last four games with a back injury and hasn’t practiced this week, continues to be listed as a starting outside linebacker.
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Peters has started all 12 games on the left side this season, but four different players have started on the right side: Terrance Mitchell, Acker, Steven Nelson and newcomer Darrelle Revis.
Phillip Gaines also has logged snaps at cornerback.
“I wouldn’t tell you who it’s going to be, but honestly we’re rolling guys through both places,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said.
The recent addition of Revis helps cushion the loss of Peters. The seven-time Pro Bowler signed with the Chiefs two weeks ago and appeared in his first game against the Jets, playing 39 snaps, all in the first half. He could see more action this weekend.
Next to Peters, Mitchell has taken the most snaps at cornerback this season. A combination of Revis, Mitchell and Nelson would seem to be the most likely set up in a sub package. But there’s an all-hands-on-deck sense, too.
“You always miss a guy, but you work as a group,” Acker said. “It’s a chess game, really. When a piece goes down, you have to figure it out and work as a team. But we have been through this before.”
True. There is precedent for playing without Peters, but the result isn’t encouraging. Peters missed a game last season, sitting out a home contest against the Tampa Bay Bucs with a hip pointer injury. Coach Andy Reid instructed Peters to stay off his feet and not even come to the stadium that day.
The Chiefs fell 19-17. Acker and Nelson were the starting cornerbacks that day. Ford, who finished the season leading the team in tackles, also didn’t play and Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 331 yards and a touchdown.
The Chiefs on Sunday face a Raiders team has made up ground in the standings. The two teams share a 6-6 record along with the Los Angeles Chargers, heightening the importance of this weekend’s game.
The Raiders won the first meeting on Oct. 19 in Oakland in a 31-30 shootout that ended a four-game losing streak. Quarterback Derek Carr torched the Chiefs for 417 yards and three touchdowns that day, including the game-winner to Michael Crabtree with no time remaining.
Carr told Bay Area reporters this week that the Raiders’ approach won’t change.
“It doesn’t change what we do,” Carr said. “We still have to go out there and execute our game plan. If anything, maybe we throw one or two more the other way. It just depends how they roll coverages and do those kind of things.”
The Raiders typically have brought out the best in Peters, who has two of his 17 career interceptions against his hometown team. With Peters in the lineup, the Chiefs won the first four meetings between the teams before their loss in October.
Now, the Chiefs have to find a way to win without their top cornerback.
“Any time a piece goes down, it’s our job to step in at that moment,” Acker said. “And it happened at the beginning of the week, so we have that time to prepare.”