Cornerback Ron Parker manned up on Saturday.
Despite a shaky performance in the Chiefs’ preseason opener against Cincinnati last Thursday night, Parker retained his starting right cornerback job when the club returned to the practice field.
And on the second play of full team practice, Parker intercepted Alex Smith’s pass intended for Junior Hemingway.
“It’s another work day,” said Parker, who was beaten on two big plays and committed two penalties in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 41-39 victory over Cincinnati. “I learned from going back and watching the tape and looking at my mistakes and coming out on the practice field and correcting them.”
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The first correction was related to the 53-yard bomb caught by three-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green, who got behind Parker and rookie safety Daniel Sorensen, an injury replacement for Eric Berry.
“Staying on top of the deep ball …” Parker said. “I’ve got to stay back. When I’m back deep, I’ve got to be deep and come up and make plays.”
While Parker, 26, had his struggles in the preseason game, incumbent Sean Smith shined, albeit playing against the Bengals’ backups. Smith, the starter for all 15 games last year — other than the regular-season finale at San Diego where Parker started — returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown against Bengals backup quarterback Jason Campbell.
But it wasn’t enough for Smith to dislodge Parker from the top of the depth chart.
“I’m not worried about running with the ones or the twos or the threes or the fours,” said Parker, who is also a valued special-teams player. “This is what you like as a group. You want it to be a battle. You want to compete at every position. We’re doing a great job of that at the cornerback position.”
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton expects the competition to continue to the end of camp and beyond.
“It’s a healthy competition,” Sutton said. “It’s far less separated than it might appear sometimes, in who is the one, who isn’t the one, as far as reps.
“(Parker) has to be like any player, especially out there at the edges, you need to have a short memory, you have to learn from whatever happens to you out there, and obviously he’s got to play that particular route better than he did (against Cincinnati).
“They’re just going to keep competing, and I hope they make it a hard decision on us; that would be the best thing for us.”
Parker, like all of the defensive backs in the league, is also having to adjust to the NFL’s renewed emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding.
Parker was called for illegal use of hands, a penalty that was declined because Cincinnati’s Brandon Tate beat him for a 9-yard slant for a touchdown. And Parker was flagged for illegal contact. Smith was penalized for a defensive holding penalty in the second quarter.
“The new rules … it can get irritating at times,” Parker said. “That’s why we have the preseason games, to see what you can do and what you can’t do. We have to figure out what the refs are going to call and play the way they want you to play.”