KANSAS CITY, Mo. — By his own account, cornerback Stanford Routt spent much of his first few weeks with the Chiefs introducing himself to teammates and trying to get used to the fact that, after seven seasons, he no longer plays for the Raiders but one of their most intense rivals.
“It’s a little different for me,” Routt said. “For the first time in, like, seven years, I’m just walking around saying, ‘Hi, I’m Stanford,’ introducing myself to people and asking people, ‘Where’s this room and where’s that room?’ It’s going pretty good. Everybody’s been real helpful and it’s helping my transition a whole lot.
“Last week, I was just getting used to seeing the red-colored jerseys and not the black and silver anymore. I’m finally getting settled in with everything. It’s just scratching the surface right now. I can’t wait until we get to training camp and the preseason.”
Given his play during recent practice sessions, Routt is evidently becoming more comfortable with his new surroundings. He was the victim on Jonathan Baldwin’s spectacular one-handed catch this week, but he also broke up a pair of passes the same day.
Last week, he made a similar play to catch the eye of his new head coach, Romeo Crennel.
“He made a play on a ball today (and) he was right there on it,” Crennel said. “He didn’t get the ball out but he was right on the ball. That showed me, told me, that he was beginning to understand our system and kind of what we want done. He was able to get there and be in good position and have an opportunity to defend that pass.
“He’s trying to learn the system. I think some of his talent is beginning to show up now the more comfortable he gets with the guys around him.”
The Chiefs acquired Routt over the winter after their long-standing cornerback pairing of Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr was broken up. The Chiefs were unable to re-sign Carr and he left for Dallas as a free agent.
Otherwise, the Chiefs are going for continuity on that side of the ball after becoming one of the league’s better defensive teams during the second half of last season. As one of two major defensive player additions — rookie nose tackle Dontari Poe being the other — Routt will come under a great deal of scrutiny if the Chiefs don’t play well defensively.
Routt made his share of plays for the Raiders, but also was inconsistent. He piled up 17 penalties last season, mostly for holding or pass interference.
“Obviously, penalties are something you don’t want to do, something you don’t want to have, and it’s definitely something you don’t want to stack up,” Routt said. “I think that playing man-to-man coverage like we did in Oakland, it was something that you can’t really avoid. If you want to play aggressive, if you want to play football, if you want to play close to your man, sometimes it’s going to happen. It was a little bit unfortunate the way it stacked up towards the end of the season. It is what it is. It’s not going to stop my play one way or another.”
The Chiefs believe that good coaching can help break Routt from his penalty habit. But before Baldwin made his remarkable catch, Routt grabbed Baldwin and might have been penalized for pass interference if the play had happened during a game.
To Routt, it’s all part of the settling-in process.
“Last week I remember I took a look down and I saw red shoes, red shorts, red jersey and red gloves,” he said. “I knew that I was now in Kansas (City) and not in California anymore. But it’s been a smooth transition. It’s been a little bumpy here and there, just with the familiarity I had for the seven past years, but it’s going to be just fine.”