Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers dropped off the line of scrimmage and conceded a few yards to wide receiver Jon Baldwin.
It was a trap. As soon as Baldwin ran a quick hitch, the bait was set. Flowers jumped the route, intercepted Alex Smith’s pass and returned it for a touchdown on the third play of Tuesday’s practice.
“I try to get our defense riled up,” Flowers said of his morning wake-up call. “We love the bump-and-run here, and it was still man-to-man coverage, but I lined up off the line to give him a different look.”
That wasn’t the first time Flowers has pulled off a pick-six in training camp this year. The Chiefs, after intercepting a league-low seven passes last season, have made a concerted effort to be better ball hawks in 2013, and Flowers has locked down his side of the field.
“I’m just trying to get my hands on more footballs … every year, every practice, try to get more knowledge of the game and try to better myself,” said Flowers, who has 16 interceptions in five years, including a team-leading three in 2012.
Smith said both Flowers on the left side and free agent Sean Smith on the right side make it difficult for quarterbacks.
“They’re a great test every day,” Smith said. “(Flowers) definitely got the best of me today on that one. He’s played a long time, he’s played a lot of football, so not only does he have the ability, but he understands concepts and starts route recognizing, and then he can take some chances. So it’s tough.”
Flowers said the defensive backs have benefited from the Chiefs hiring 14-year veteran Al Harris as an assistant to secondary coach Emmitt Thomas, as well as having former NFL wide receiver Andre Reed in camp as a coaching intern.
“Al Harris, he stays on top of you every single snap,” Flowers said. “I told Sean, ‘He’s trying to turn us into machines.’ Emmitt has seen everything … but Al has been in the fire not too long ago, and helps tell us how to jump certain routes because he knows how he had to adjust. Every pointer, every coach can give us … even Andre Reed talking to defenders … we’re trying to gain every edge we can.”
Flowers and the Chiefs’ starting defense were on the field for just six plays against New Orleans’ Drew Brees before forcing the Saints to punt in last week’s preseason opener against the Saints. Flowers is hoping to get a little more action Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium against San Francisco in the Chiefs’ first look at Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick replaced Smith at midseason last year and finished the 49ers’ drive to the Super Bowl.
“You always love playing against great quarterbacks because they do nothing but sharpen your technique and get you ready for the season,” Flowers said. “They’re a team that plays at a high, competitive level. They know what it takes to play for a ring.
“We want to match their intensity, and try to have them match our intensity, because we’re going out just letting loose, playing like it’s a regular-season game.”