A Change Of View Helps ‘Q’ … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

For two seasons, it was hard to know that Quinten Lawrence was part of the Chiefs.

Last Friday night in the team’s pre-season opener against Tampa Bay, it was hard to miss him.

Flying around the field from his cornerback position, Lawrence ended up leading the Chiefs defense with seven tackles against the Buccaneers. He showed athletic ability, quickness and speed as he battled with the Bucs receivers. He looked like a grizzled veteran corner.

He’s hardly that. As the Chiefs went through practice on Sunday afternoon at Missouri Western State University, Lawrence was in his 17th day of being an NFL defensive back. In less than three weeks he accomplished more as a cornerback than he did in two years as a wide receiver.

On the edge of not making it another season on the offense, Lawrence now has to be in the conversation when the Chiefs talk about filling out their secondary behind cornerbacks Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Javier Arenas.

“I thought he was one of the brighter spots the other night,” head coach Todd Haley said of Lawrence. “You’re talking about a guy, his first real game action out there at the corner and they have some pretty good receivers that played a good bit it appeared to me. That was a good sign. That was encouraging. We’re not going to pull up the Canton truck yet, but that’s encouraging and I think he’s excited and that’s a good thing.”

Lawrence enjoyed himself Friday night, but admits he’s continuing to get acclimated at his new position. The toughest part of the transition for him?

“Going backwards,” Lawrence said. “As a receiver, you are going forward, forward, forward. In the off-season, I tried to go out and backpedal as much as I can. That’s my biggest adjustment.”

Selected in the sixth-round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of McNeese State, Lawrence appeared overwhelmed by the jump from Division I-AA to professional football. For two years he rode the personnel pogo stick, from active roster, to waiver wire, to practice squad and back. Any number of times, he could have been claimed by another team or signed by another club while he was briefly a free agent. There wasn’t much interest in Quinten Lawrence the receiver.

That was certainly the case with the Chiefs. Offensively, he was an afterthought and did not appear to have an upside at wide receiver. Six games in two seasons, one catch for nine yards and two rushes on end-around runs for 42 yards.

So the decision was made by the coaching staff to move Lawrence to cornerback. That didn’t come in a vacuum. As part of the practice squad the better part of the last two seasons, Lawrence was sometimes asked to jump in and help out in the secondary. It was not unfamiliar territory for him, since he played there as a freshman at McNeese and even a few plays during a senior season that was limited to five games because of a severe right ankle injury. Go back to the players’ mini-camp in May and Lawrence was working on the corner in those practices in anticipation of the change.

“I prepared for both receiver and corner,” Lawrence said. “I knew it was a possibility.”

Said Haley: “There were days when we were short defensive backs and generally that’s a receiver that you throw over there and he showed a couple of flashes on the show team so discussions started. We continued to work him through last year over there and made the decision in the off-season to actually make the switch. It was a tough off-season to do it, knowing that you weren’t going to get to work a whole bunch and actually it ended up being none, with him.

“He was all in which is important in those kinds of deals. You want the player to really feel like that he’s on board and he was. ”

Lawrence has always had one thing going for him – he was fast, running as low as 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and 10.49 seconds in the 100 meters. Coming out of McNeese, he could cover 10 yards from a standing start in less than 1.5 seconds. That speed and quickness was visible in Sunday’s practice. Rookie QB Ricky Stanzi dropped back to pass and looked to his right, where he thought he had a receiver open.

Already learning how to watch his man, and also sneak a peek at the quarterback, Lawrence waited for Stanzi to throw the ball. Once he did, he reacted and jumped in front of the pass and returned the interception down the sideline for a pick six.

Everything was not perfect for Lawrence last Friday night. He took the opening kickoff about six yards deep in the end zone and made a late decision to bring the ball out, rather than take the touchback. The Chiefs ended up with field position for their first possession of the game at their eight-yard line.

“I was trying to make a play,” said Lawrence. “I should have been smarter about the situation.”

But overall, it was a good start at his new position, and a budding chance to continue his football career.

“I want to make the team anyway I can,” Lawrence said. “Whether it’s special teams, offense, defense.”

7 Responses to “A Change Of View Helps ‘Q’ … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 15, 2011  - Cheb says:

    Lawrence was a hard guy to miss on the television set. I was encouraged to see him making play after play. Would be nice to see him not only continue to develop as a football player and accomplish this switch, but to actually become dependable, tough as nails and seal up a backup position on defense while contributing to the special teams. Would save KC a future draft choice.

  • August 15, 2011  - Kiowa says:

    He is going to make it, you could just see it with his speed in that game.

  • August 15, 2011  - Rick says:

    You gotta wish the kid well, I’m impressed with his moxie.

  • August 15, 2011  - el cid says:

    Never a fan but if he could find a place on the 53 man roster, got to like it.

  • August 15, 2011  - Danny W says:

    If he can develop as a back up so be it. But the guy does not have the vision to be a kick returner. I think Travis Daniels is a ball hawk and would be a nice to see him a little more in the nickle.

  • August 15, 2011  - ED says:

    Love a kid doing what it takes to make the team. He didn’t work at receiver hopefully he can make a good long career at corner.

  • August 16, 2011  - TokyoTim says:

    Let’s put him one on one with Jacoby Ford twice a year. He might be the only corner we have that can stick with him.

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