Kansas City Chiefs rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines is a possible sleeper, as he is a small-school product from Rice with plenty of athletic ability and the requisite physical tools to make a splash. The Chiefs decision to make Brandon Flowers a cap casualty cleared the way for Gaines to move up the depth chart and vie for a starting job. In fact, the Chiefs have kicked around the idea of using Gaines as a free safety to see if he can be the answer there, even though he spent his entire college career at corner for Rice.
According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Gaines was carted off the field at practice today with an injury, but details are obviously scant at the moment. While a player being carted off is rarely good news, it’s important to note that a couple of players were carted on the New York Giants first day of practice, and they ended up being fine. Hopefully Gaines is in the same type of situation, because the last thing we want to see is a Travis Kelce-esque season-ending injury to an impact rookie before the season begins.
Assuming he ends up OK, Gaines could end up starting at corner this year, even if it means only playing on the outside in nickel packages. This is a guy who can run sub-4.4 forty, and he has plenty of athleticism and upside. Gaines has the ability to become a lockdown corner down the road, so let’s hope that an injury doesn’t cut into his early development or his ability to help the team out in his first season.