Cornerback Sean Smith started 15 games for the Chiefs last season, but he’s been relegated to the second team through the first few days of camp.
Fourth-year pro Ron Parker has been taking the first-team reps at left corner. Brandon Flowers, who was released last month, was the starter there entering last season before he was supplanted by Marcus Cooper.
Now, Cooper, a converted wide receiver from Rutgers in his second season, has flipped to the right side and is getting the bulk of the work at right corner, which had been Smith’s spot.
“We look at Sean as a first team player,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after Saturday’s practice. “We need all of those guys and we need two deep at the corner, but we feel like that two deep is equivalent to starting players. That’s where we’re looking.”
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Smith, who played four years with the Dolphins before signing with the Chiefs, had two interceptions and 47 tackles last season.
He started all 16 games in three of four seasons in Miami, making Smith the roster’s most experienced cornerback.
Reid said he’s pleased with the play of all three players — Parker, Cooper and Smith — early in camp and insists that there isn’t a disciplinary reason for the demotion.
Smith — who signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Chiefs before the 2013 season — was arrested for driving under the influence near the Power & Light District three days before Flowers was released.
“Right now, it’s a football thing,” Reid said.
When pressed if he was playing with the second team as punishment for his arrest, Reid replied, “That’s not what we’re doing here.”