McCleon Intends to Pick Up the Slack

Ever since the Kansas City Chiefs learned of cornerback Eric Warfield's four game suspension, they have been trying to determine who will replace him at the second cornerback position opposite Patrick Surtain. Veteran cornerback Dexter McCleon looks like he may be the man for the job.

Cool and relaxed, McCleon has taken every thing in stride. After a season of criticism of his play by the fans and media, and a debilitating shoulder injury, the veteran cornerback has come right back with a renewed vigor and the same sense of purpose that he's brought to each of the 10 training camps he been in.

McCleon is optimistic about the upcoming season. With an influx of new talent and the swift improvement of players around him, the now healthy McCleon is pleased with the team improvement.

"It's coming along," the cornerback says. "It's our second year in the system, and guys are reacting a lot quicker this year, and guys aren't thinking as much, so hopefully, the second time around should be a charm, and hopefully, the defense will be 100% better than last year."

Last year was a struggle for McCleon who though he didn't play very well at times, never used the excuse of his shoulder as being a contributing factor to his struggles defensively. Now he understands his role and what he has to do as one of eleven guys on defense.

"I just want to help this defense have a hundred percent turnaround. That's my main focus. I could have one interception or ten interceptions, I could care less. As long as this defense plays well, and gets us to where we want to go, I'll be happy," he said.

Even after receiving the endorsement of head coach Dick Vermeil at the onset of training camp in River Falls, McCleon still isn't taking anything for granted. He is working hard to prove that he deserves that starting position.

"No spots are given to anyone," he proclaimed. "You still have to go out and earn anything, so you've just got to come to work and be prepared to work and just try to make this team better."

One of the elder statesmen on the team, the affable McCleon, has taken the younger players under his wing. He has taken a leadership role at the cornerback position. With the addition of young cornerbacks, Justin Perkins and Alphonso Hodge, he has plenty of teaching to do.

McCleon says, "I try to lead some of the rookies. It's tough on those guys, coming into a system like this, that's complicated, and (being in) an NFL training camp period, so you have to lead them a little bit, not let them get down, and pick them up when they need to be picked up."

Ever the model player, McCleon remains focused on the job at hand, getting the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. He knows there's not much time left. With the imminent retirement of some key offensive players, McCleon doesn't have time worry about the past. He knows now is the time to put all out on the field.

"It's a brand new season," he said. "Time's running out. We have to get this thing done in a quick manner."

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