Haley Wants More From Corners

During the Chiefs' forgettable 2-14 2008 season, one of the few bright spots was the play of a young secondary. Specifically, the play of two rookie cornerbacks - Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr.

Flowers has drawn adoration from media and fans alike and some even consider him the best player on this fledgling Kansas City team. He was a second-round draft pick with first-round talent that fell, so many of the expectations for the bell cow of that 2008 draft, Glenn Dorsey, have landed squarely on Flowers' shoulders. People know Flowers can play.

Carr's play last season was a surprise. If it weren't for an injury to veteran Patrick Surtain, Carr might not have matched Flowers' two interceptions or recorded 73 tackles, good enough for second on the team. But not even those two feats, or the fact that he logged more snaps than any other defender, earned him as much attention as Flowers or fellow rookie cornerback Maurice Leggett.

Leggett, like Carr, came from a Division II college, and also like Carr, he received playing time through injuries. Leggett made his name with a couple of huge plays last season, scoring off a fumble recovery and an interception, and also scooping up an additional fumble.

Carr was outshined by Flowers' rising stardom last season, and Leggett, an undrafted free agent, took the underdog role away, so how is Carr's sophomore campaign going?

"I've seen Brandon continue to get better," said head coach Todd Haley. "He obviously looks the part. He's big and strong and really fast. I think that as we've gone forward here, I've seen Brandon continue to improve and I think he wants to be a good corner in the league. I think he works at his craft very hard all the time, before and after practice. I'm encouraged that Brandon's going to be a good corner in the league here."

When Haley arrived in Kansas City, surely he sat down with general manager Scott Pioli and scoured the depth chart and film vault to find out what kind of players he inherited. When he got to the cornerback position, he must have been pleased that perhaps, with all the other glaring needs of a 2-14 football team, he might be able to rely on the young talent already on board in Flowers and Carr.

"I think those are hard spots to find, and obviously a critical spot," said Haley. "Again, we need to better at that position, specifically, to be a good defense. I think Brandon Flowers has a chance to be a really good corner in the league, and I think Brandon Carr has a chance to be a really good corner in the league. I think they both work at it, and want to be good players and great players, so I am encouraged to have both of those guys on the team."

Last season, despite the team's woeful record and porous defense, Chiefs fans were able to hang their hat on a young, talented group of cornerbacks. But after a nearly anonymous receiver like Miles Austin went off for 250 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, not even the youth of KC's corners can save them from a little heat. Haley sees room for improvement.

"We've just got to do the little things right technique-wise," he said. "You see them out there after practice everyday. We've just got to be better. We've got to be better at technique. We've got to be better as coaches at putting the right guys on the right players. That's a tough situation. Miles Austin was Dallas' probable fourth receiver going into this year, maybe down the line further, I don't know. That guy had a phenomenal game. You have to give him credit."

"When we call a certain defense, and they're supposed to be playing a certain technique, they have to play it. If we get beat, we get beat. That happens. Say Brandon Carr's play on the sidelines - he did what he was supposed to, he covered the receiver. The receiver went up and basically won with the ball in the air and came down with it. I thought Brandon was coming down with it, Miles did. That kind of stuff, that's going to happen, but when we call a defense and a particular defense is supposed to be played and then we don't do that, or we don't use that technique, then that's when you have breakdowns."

In an attempt to further nurture his budding cornerbacks, Haley has enlisted some extra help in the form of Otis Smith, a former NFL corner who coached defensive backs previously in New England and Philadelphia. Haley and Smith are familiar with each other from their time in New York together.

"We'll have him in here for a couple weeks just to kind of help with some technique things with these younger corners," said Haley. "Like I said, we'll do anything and everything to try to get better as we go. I think those guys are working hard and I think they are getting better."

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