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Chiefs’ corners face tall challenge

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, at 10:59 p.m.

— The list of Romeo Crennel’s concerns is a long one, and that’s understandable for the coach of a 1-8 team. But the Chiefs added one of their own recently when they released veteran cornerback Stanford Routt.

That left them with Brandon Flowers and Javier Arenas, both 5-foot-9, as their starting cornerbacks. Corner is a difficult place for a tiny player to survive, and that prospect only adds to Crennel’s angst.

“If they can play (well), I’m OK with it,” Crennel said. “If they can’t play, it’s not as good.”

The issue becomes more important for the Chiefs as they head into a stretch where they will try to defend not only some of the league’s best receivers, but tall receivers on top of that. They will face Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, who is 6-4 and leads the NFL in touchdown catches with nine and is in the top 10 in receptions, on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

The following week, they will go up against Denver’s pair of tall and top-15 receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Both players are 6-3.

So for the next two weeks, at least, Flowers and Arenas will be spending much, if not all, of their time staring up at their opponents.

“Those guys are competitors and they do a nice job,’’ Crennel said. “If you watch Flowers, the way he played last week, that was a pretty good performance on his part. Javier tries really hard when he plays, and so if you get guys who try hard and do those kinds of things, they can make plays. They’re not going to be perfect, I don’t think anybody’s perfect, but when they give the effort and they try hard, they can make some plays.”

Living in a bigger man’s world is nothing new for Flowers, who became a starter for the Chiefs as a rookie in 2008 and had developed into one of the league’s better cornerbacks.

“I love playing (against) bigger receivers,’’ Flowers said. “It’s a bigger challenge to go out there and fight, so I’m looking forward to a receiver like A.J. Green coming in. He’s a big task.

“The guy’s got skills. He’s got a big frame for his quarterback. He’s got speed, great hands, can do a lot of things after the catch.”

The situation is relatively new for Arenas, who moved into the starting lineup only two weeks ago, after Routt was released. He’s been the regular nickel back for the Chiefs since he was drafted in 2010, but in that spot is usually matched against quicker receivers closer to his size.

Trying to cover players of Green’s caliber is a relatively new experience for him.

“Going up against a guy like him with that size, you have to accept it for what it is,’’ Arenas said. “When I say that, I mean when he goes up for the ball, I know I’m not going to go up with him and get the ball. That’s not my game. I’m going up with him and trying to rip the ball out when he’s coming down. That’s why I say you have to accept a different kind of game against a guy like him.

“I know my strengths. That’s getting my hands on these guys and breaking the ball out of their hands when they’re coming down.’’

Green had some big games this year, none bigger than his seven catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns in an October game against Cleveland. For his part, Green said he wasn’t necessarily expecting a game like that this week.

“I don’t think I’ll have an advantage,’’ he said. “Those guys are great athletes. Brandon Flowers is a top corner. Javier Arenas is probably one of the top corners as well. Those guys are really fast and they’re physical. They’re great athletes.’’

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