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Chiefs’ Reid praises Albert, but won’t guarantee him a position

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at 8:36 p.m.

— Andy Reid came close, but he didn’t end the mystery of Branden Albert and his standing with the Chiefs.

“The thing I know is that he’s a Pro Bowl caliber left tackle,” Reid said from Phoenix, site of the NFL’s annual owners meetings. “I feel that way. He’s a very good player. I have no problem with saying that.”

With that said, Reid wouldn’t confirm Albert would be the Chiefs’ left tackle next season. Albert has told the team he plans to sign the club’s one-year, $9.83 million contract offer as their franchise player.

“I’m going to try to play the five best guys,” Reid said. “I’ve never, ever in my career put a guy into a position he hasn’t played. I had Shaun Andrews (with Philadelphia) and he might have been the finest left tackle in the National Football League had I played him there. He was playing guard for me and then he played a little bit of tackle but he was the best guard in football.

“I know (Albert) can play left tackle and I know he can play it at a championship caliber level. That’s a refreshing thing.”

Albert and his future with the Chiefs has been the subject of much public speculation. It hasn’t stopped even when Albert informed the Chiefs he would sign his one-year contract. One issue has been his position, even though Albert has been nothing but a left tackle since the Chiefs drafted him in the first round in 2008.

Another is whether the Chiefs would trade Albert. They can do so once he signs the contract.

If the Chiefs were to trade Albert or ask him to switch to guard or right tackle, they could select his replacement in either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher with the first overall pick of the NFL Draft in April.

Both players are generally considered to be among the best players available in the draft.

Reid also addressed the issue at cornerback, which is suddenly crowded in Kansas City after the Chiefs signed veteran free agents Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith. They join last year’s starters, Brandon Flowers and Javier Arenas.

Flowers has been one of the league’s better cornerbacks almost since joining the Chiefs as a second-round draft pick in 2008, so he will keep one of the starting spots.

As for the other, Reid said, “They’re competing for that corner spot. Right now, if we were going to practice today, Dunta would be the first one in line. But they would be competing and making each other better. That will help all four of them. I’ll throw Arenas and Flowers into that mix, too.

“You know how it is with those guys. You can’t go into a season with just a couple of corners.”

Asked where Robinson, a starter the past nine seasons for Houston and Atlanta, would play if Smith wins the other starting spot, Reid said, “He’ll play somewhere. I don’t know where exactly. He’s a corner. He played safety in college so I know he can do that. But that’s not what I’m looking at right now.”

Smith, at 6 feet 3 and 218 pounds, is one of the biggest cornerbacks in the league. Reid indicated the Chiefs that size would be needed alongside the Flowers and Arenas at 5-9 and Robinson at 5-10.

“Teams are playing bigger receivers now, so it certainly doesn’t hurt,” Reid said. “It’s a positive. We want to play our corners in (tight) coverage. This will help.”

The Chiefs next season will try to catch in the AFC West standings the Denver Broncos, who have not only Peyton Manning at quarterback but Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, both 6-3, and the recently signed Wes Welker at wide receiver.

But Reid said the moves at cornerback were not aimed at the Broncos in particular.

“I didn’t do it as much for who the other teams had as much as I know what you have to have to play in this league,” he said.

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