Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis, a second-year player hidden at times last year behind the Pro Bowl season of Eric Berry, has emerged this season as one of the team's more dependable defenders.
Berry, of course, suffered a torn knee ligament early in the Chiefs' first regular-season game, ending his season. That left the team with a group of unproven safeties, turning one of the team's strengths into a likely weakness.
"I like to call myself a ball hawk; I like to be around the ball, like to make plays on the ball," Lewis said. "It's just me being in the right place at the right time.... When you do what you're asked, the ball seems to find you."
Lewis, a fifth-round pick last year out of the University of Mississippi, has quietly put together an outstanding first half to his second season, intercepting three passes in seven games an d becoming one of the more reliable members of a secondary packed with talent. He returned one of those picks for a touchdown in a 28-0 victory against Oakland.
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"He (became) a pretty impressive and important part of our team pretty quickly," coach Todd Haley said this week, "and a lot of that had to do with his ability to be a leader and communicate and help other teammates around him. It's never been too big for Kendrick."
Haley said Lewis stepped forward after Berry's injury, which at the time left a void not only in talent but in leadership.
"Somebody in that secondary has to be the quarterback of what's going on," Haley said. "Kendrick is a comfort to have out there on the field, I know to all of us as coaches, because he does a very good job of getting it right."
Lewis also has three deflections and 22 solo tackles.
"I'm going to knock on wood, man," he said. "I hope we keep up the pace."
Jones not finished yet? —Offensive coordinator Bill Muir said Friday that he thinks running back Thomas Jones would look more his old self if he were receiving more carries. Muir said he didn't believe Jones, 33, has hit a wall in his career because of his advanced age.
"I wouldn't say anything negative about where he is with his productivity. I would just say a lack of opportunity," Muir said. "Obviously none of us are as frisky as we were 10 years ago, especially if you played in the National Football League and you're a running back. But would I say that's a negative aspect? No."
Jones has fewer than 200 yards through seven games, and he's averaging 3.1 yards per carry. After seven games last year, while sharing carries with Jamaal Charles, Jones had 538 yards and a 4.6-yard average.
Muir said there wouldn't be an effort to get more carries for Jones, saying sometimes it's a casualty of the team's game plan.
"I really don't think there's a diminishing scale," Muir said. "Toughness is still at a high level, physical-ness is still at a high level."
Safety Jon McGraw's injured shoulder could keep him out of Sunday's game against the Dolphins. He didn't practice Friday, and he was listed as doubtful. Cornerback and punt returner Javier A renas has an injured ankle and is questionable against Miami.