Marcus Peters knows it’s coming. Veteran NFL wide receivers will try to push his buttons, get under his skin, rile him and see if he’ll make a mistake — in coverage or with his temper.
Peters, a Washington cornerback who was chosen by the Chiefs with the No. 18 overall selection Thursday in the 2015 NFL Draft, acknowledged that he brought such challenges upon himself.
“Definitely, it’s a part of the game now,” Peters said Saturday during an introductory news conference at the Chiefs’ training facility. “I put it out there to be seen to the world, so there are some veterans out who are going to use that.”
Peters’ emotional volatility — and, by extension, his character — became a talking point in draft assessments after he was kicked off the Huskies’ team in early November, eight games into his senior season.
Peters was flagged for head-butting an opposing player during Washington’s second game last season, a 59-52 win against Eastern Washington. Cameras then caught Peters throwing what he later termed a “hissy fit” when assistant coaches tried to calm him down.
Six weeks later, Peters, who admitted to a failed drug test in 2011, was dismissed after a dispute with assistant coaches.
“It was just a misunderstanding at the time, and I learned to deal with certain situations differently,” Peters said.
Peters said he did a poor job adjusting when Steve Sarkisian left to become the coach at Southern California after the 2013 season and was replaced by Chris Petersen.
“It was just different,” Peters said. “With being the previous coach that was there, coach Sark, for three years, then coach Petersen coming in and how fast of a change it was, everything was just different, man. For me, just being so used to how things used to go, I was just resistant toward the way things were going.”
The Chiefs spoke with more than a dozen people for insight into Peters’ character. General manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid met with Peters during the NFL Combine and again during a visit to Kansas City.
The week before the draft, the Chiefs sent director of player personnel Chris Ballard to Oakland to meet with Peters and his family. Peters, 22, became a father Oct. 18 when his son, Carson, was born.
“I made some decisions that caused my character to be questioned, and for me to get an opportunity now to start fresh and new here in Kansas City is a blessing,” Peters said.
It’s perhaps telling that Petersen welcomed Peters back for Washington’s Pro Day.
“They gave me plenty of opportunities to turn things around and, with me being gone from the organization for the few months that I was gone and to come back and be welcomed by my teammates and by the university, it just felt good,” Peters said. “Me and coach Petersen, we had plenty of talks and I’m just thankful for everything. He said I’m more than welcome to come around the program and be with my teammates anytime.”
Reid understands the questions about his new cornerback, but he also doesn’t want Peters to lose the competitive edge and fire that helped make him a top draft pick in the first place. Peters finished with 11 interceptions during the last three seasons at Washington and showed himself to be a willing tackler, with 129 tackles in 34 games during that span.
“When you turn on the film, you see it …” Reid said when asked about Peters’ energy and passion for football. “Both of them (Petersen and Sarkisian) told me that he loves the game and loves to play. He’s a coach’s kid, so he’s been raised around it and you can see that in his play and the way he goes about his business.”
Peters will be able to participate in the Chiefs’ three-day rookie minicamp, which begins May 16, but he is not be eligible for offseason organized team activities.
Washington’s semester ends June 12, which also is the final day of the Chiefs’ 10 organized team activities. Players cannot participate in OTAs until the semester ends.
“He’ll be able to come in and participate in the rookie minicamp,” Reid said, “so he can have a playbook there and take notes and so on, take that with him. When he comes back for the mandatory camp with the veterans, he’ll be in the swing of things.”
Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson, a third-round pick Friday by the Chiefs, also cannot participate in OTAs until his semester ends. Running back De’Anthony Thomas faced the same issue last year.
Both Peters and Nelson will be eligible for the Chiefs’ three-day mandatory minicamp, beginning June 16.