The Future Of KC's Secondary

At the basest of levels, there's no difference between Chiefs cornerback Michael Bragg and safety Bernard Pollard. They're both young defensive backs trying to make a name for themselves in the NFL.

But it's not hard to see their career paths have been quite different, even after only a year on KC's roster.

Pollard was pretty much anointed as the Chiefs future at strong safety after being surprisingly drafted in the second round a year ago. He'll likely enter the season as a starter.

Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards told Pollard his rookie year was over, and it was time to step up – the team is "taking the braces" off him, said Pollard.

"I'm so ready," he added. "I've been working my butt off, taking the things that happened last year and trying to improve from it. It's time to play now. I'm going to do the same things I did last year, but I'm coming back with a vengeance."

In a way, so is Bragg. Like so many unknowns, it's been tough for the second-year pro. He wasn't drafted, and the Giants released him only three months after signing him as a rookie free agent.

The Chiefs picked him up a few months later. They cut him. Then they signed him again last February. He made it through the season. Maybe he'll stick this time?

"When they brought me back, I wanted to thank them," said Bragg of his here-today, gone-tomorrow Odyssey as an NFL player. "I felt it was a blessing, because you don't really get too many second chances. [Herm] said don't thank them, just show them that they made the right decision."

The person that had a large hand in making that decision was defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Even when the Chiefs originally cut ties with Bragg, Gibbs marked him down as someone the team might be able to use in the future.

Bragg realizes he has no stronger ally in Kansas City's locker room.

"He's like my boy, he's got my back, I appreciate Gibbs a lot," said Bragg. "He's really the reason why I'm back."

And now that he's back, in order to take root on the roster Bragg will need more playing time this season. He was active for only four games last season, playing mostly on special teams and recording one tackle.

But he's not bitter. No one's going into Edwards' office and asking for Bragg to dress in their place. This isn't "Rudy."

"It just made me more hungry, being up and down during the season," said Bragg. "Now I just need to prove to them that I'm ready to be active the whole year."

Pollard, on the other hand, can probably count on that fact despite the fact he too played mostly on special teams, recording 10 tackles and flashing playmaking ability with three blocked punts. Given the release of veteran safety Sammy Knight and trade rumors swirling around Greg Wesley, he's slotted as a starter opposite Jarrad Page.

But Pollard appreciates everything Knight did while he was a Chief – both on the field and off it. He said the 11-year veteran was instrumental in showing KC's young safeties the ropes last year in their rookie seasons.

"Sammy's a great guy, he knows football like no other," said Pollard. "He's able to jump things and he sees things. In my first year, having him to help me and Page out was huge. I wish him the best and he'll play somewhere. He's a heck of a football player."

Whatever role Bragg and Pollard play this season, the coaching staff is 100 percent behind both players. Even though offseason workouts just started this week, Pollard said he had met with defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham almost every day for nearly a month, sometimes holding conversations for as long as 90 minutes.

"We've talked to Herm, Gun and Gibbs," he said. "They're pumped up and ready to go. The way these guys coach the game, I've never seen it before. The passion they have in the office everyday is incredible."

"We're gonna come out, and we're gonna fight for them. We're going to have a lot of fun this year."

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