As a pass floated past one of the Chiefs’ tight ends and out of the back of the end zone, secondary coach Al Harris approached Jamell Fleming.
The two talked briefly at Wednesday’s offseason workout, Harris pointing around the field as if to direct Fleming. He then patted Fleming on the back and retreated as the defensive back settled in for the next play, about 8 yards off the line of scrimmage.
Harris is one of several coaches who encouraged Fleming’s switch from cornerback to safety after the Chiefs drafted three corners in this spring’s NFL Draft. Fleming has felt comfortable to this point but still needs some pointers here and there.
“If you can do corner, you can do safety,” Fleming said. “That’s what helps — being able to talk and ask questions or being able to see things, because as a safety, you have to have great eyes.”
Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, Fleming came into the league as a press-coverage corner. When the Cardinals cleaned house and switched to a zone-coverage defense ahead of the 2013 season, Fleming struggled to adjust and never quite fit.
Three years later, in his move to safety, he’s still adjusting. But he has soaked in advice from coaches such as Harris as well as Chiefs safeties Ron Parker and Daniel Sorensen.
“It’s different in the league,” Fleming said. “It’s not college. You’ve got to adapt to different things.
“Of course I miss playing cornerback, but I like taking on different challenges, too.”
Parker is the right role model for Fleming. At 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, Fleming is almost identical in size to Parker (who weighs the same and is just an inch taller).
Chiefs coach Andy Reid sees the similarities and values both players’ versatility. That’s why the team brought Fleming back to Kansas City on a one-year deal this offseason.
“He’s a big, physical guy that can play corner — he’s done that throughout his career,” Reid said. “We felt like he could also help us at safety. So we’re going to kick him in there and give him an opportunity to compete at the safety spot and see how he does.”
Last year, most of Fleming’s contributions were on special teams.
Now, as he prepares to cover bulky tight ends — which he says is easier than covering nimble receivers — he gets to tap into his more aggressive side.
“I’m an aggressive guy. That’s why they have me on special teams: I just go,” Fleming said. “I like special teams a lot, but also I want to be able to do safety now and be able to make my name there, too.”
Christian S. Hardy: @ByHardy