Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs will start two rookie cornerbacks Sunday at Atlanta, a potentially troubling situation that coach Herm Edwards insists will not cost him one minute's sleep.
"Not at all. Not those two kids," Edwards said Tuesday.
On one side will be Brandon Flowers, who was handed the starting job as soon as he was drafted in the second round in April out of Virginia Tech. Replacing 11-year veteran Patrick Surtain, who injured his shoulder last week against Oakland, will be fifth-round pick Brandon Carr.
This time last year Carr was patrolling the secondary for Division II Grand Valley State, preparing for the NFL by facing Ashland, Hillsdale and Ferris State.
Career interception numbers also underscore how young Kansas City will be on the corner. Surtain, who may be out next week as well, has 36. Carr and Flowers between them are still looking for their first.
Nevertheless, Edwards said there's no reason to panic.
"I anticipated this was going to happen eventually anyway. Now it's come to fruition," he said.
Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard, the starting safeties, are both in their third year. DaJuan Morgan, another rookie, will also see plenty of action at safety as the Chiefs try to end an 11-game losing streak against an Atlanta offense that may be tempted to unleash its passing attack.
The Chiefs (0-2) were already the youngest team in the NFL, with 15 rookies on their opening day roster and 32 players with no more than three years of experience.
"It's the youngest secondary in the league now all of a sudden. But the good part is they get to play together a long time," Edwards said.
But starting two rookies at cornerback would seem to be courting disaster, especially for a rebuilding team whose defensive line has not been putting much pressure on the quarterback.
"They'll get tested," Edwards said.
Carr saw plenty of action in last week's 23-8 loss to Oakland after Surtain came out in the first half. Morgan also played. But with the Raiders running for 300 yards, the third-highest total in Chiefs history, there was no reason to throw many passes.
"For the most part, I thought they did a good job against the Raiders," Edwards said. "We put them in a lot of man-to-man situations, they played a lot of bump-and-run. We got no problem playing man-to-man with these guys. They go up there and bump them and run with them and press them. No one gets nervous about it. They do pretty good."
Edwards also said there would be a change of strategy at quarterback. While he still wouldn't say whether 12-year veteran Damon Huard or Tyler Thigpen would start in place of the injured Brodie Croyle, Edwards did say he's abandoned last week's plan of giving playing time to both the veteran and the youngster.
"We're thinking to be more decisive with the quarterback - let the guy who plays quarterback play quarterback and just play with the guy," he said.
Huard came out early in the first half with what the Chiefs said developed into a stiff neck. Thigpen, who had thrown only six passes in two NFL seasons, played most of the rest of the way. Marques Hagans, a college quarterback who'd never been anything but a wide receiver as a pro, also took five snaps under center.
Edwards said Huard was better and would be able to practice today.
"What we're thinking about right now is just letting one guy play. Whoever we decide," Edwards said.