KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You can almost picture it now, can’t you? It’s Week 2 at Sports Authority Field, and Peyton Manning strides to the line with that John Wayne gait of his and turns his head from side to side, scanning the Kansas City Chiefs defense in front of him.
In the corner of one eye, Marcus Cooper. In the corner of the other, Ron Parker.
MANNING (takes a deep breath to collect himself): Oh-bwa … Sorry. (Takes a deep breath again.) Oma-bwahahaha … Damn! (Coughs.) Sorry, sorry, sorry. My bad. Oma-haaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaaaaaa!
So maybe that’s John Dorsey’s master plan. Having failed with every conventional, over-the-counter route, he’s going to get inside No. 18’s head by making Manning laugh hard enough to soil his Underoos.
"There’s competition there," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Thursday afternoon when asked about his new-look secondary. "We’ll see how all that works. The other kids did a real nice job."
It’s summer vacation, officially, in Andyland now. Reid is headed to the beach, or wherever he keeps those frozen Snickers bars stocked up. Dwayne Bowe is going to whittle off some more pounds; Allen Bailey is going to work on putting a few dozen back on; and Sean Smith is going to try driving past street lamps without actually hitting them.
We kid. Kind of.
Speaking of Smith, training camp starts July 20 in sunny — and by "sunny," we mean "hot enough to fry an egg on your belly button" — St. Joseph, Mo. Until then, kids, your starting cornerbacks are Cooper and Parker.
Have a great vacation, everybody!
"We’re going to be fine," safety/nickel back Sanders Commings said the other day.
"We’ve got a good group of guys here," Cooper said.
So, apparently, the Chiefs saw something that ProFootballFocus.com did not, given that the scouting site graded Cooper with a -3.0 rating last fall, -5.4 in coverage; Smith an +0.9, -2.7 in coverage; and Parker as the best of the bunch — or rather, the least worrisome — with a +4.7 rating, +1.8 in coverage.
"Organized team activities and minicamp have been good to me so far and as a group," Parker said. "I think the secondary, we’ve come in here and worked hard every day and gave it our all. I think everybody is getting better every day."
They’d better be.
As June makes the turn and sweats through the back nine, the Chiefs’ secondary is more or less Eric Berry and the Question Marks, unless Smith’s recent arrest for driving under the influence somehow shocks him into releasing his inner Revis. Parker is 26. Cooper is 24. It’s been a week since the Chiefs let Brandon Flowers and his 87 career NFL starts go. The remaining 10 cornerbacks on the roster have 105 starts, combined, under their collective belts, and Smith is responsible for 71 of those.
"I’m sorry for the guys that have departed," said Cooper, who recorded six starts last fall as a rookie, picking off three passes along the way. "We can’t look at what they’re doing. We have to focus on us and the opportunity to get better as a group."
Husain Abdullah, the floor is yours. Commings, same deal. Maybe Chris Owens, on his third NFL team in 20 months, has found a niche and a home. Flowers might have been an odd fit for the scheme and the locker room, but he was a proven odd fit.
"We still have a couple of our guys here minus Flowers and those other guys," Cooper continued. "We all have to step up at different times and we all have to come (forward) at times. We just all are going to collectively lead and push forward."
And this is the Dorsey gamble, the ultimate faith-in-Andy test. Last year, the Chiefs built up equity by feasting on the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Mike Vick and Terrelle Pryor. This fall, the Andy Gang is slated to dance with of four of the NFL’s top 10 passers from 2013 in the season’s first seven weeks alone.
"Ron is a tough kid — he’s going to challenge (you) every play," Reid said. "That’s the thing that jumps at you.
"We saw last year, when he was in the game, he made plays. It seemed like the ball went his way; he forced turnovers when he had opportunities last year. That’s a plus."
And a prayer.
"Listen," he said. "They’ve all got a long way to go."