Insider Blog: Leggs

Posted May 21, 2010

Maurice Leggett is part of hot competition for roster slots in the defensive backfield

At Arrowhead, he’s sometimes referred to as “Leggs.” Other times it’s a plain and simple “Mo.” Of course, some people call him “Maurice, woo-hoo” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

No matter what you call him, and not matter what position you classify him as, DB Maurice Leggett is the poster boy for what head coach Todd Haley is looking for from this football team as a whole. Leggett represents both versatility and competition. He also represents a player who will have to work his way on to this team in 2010.

Like so many players on this team, Leggett has no guarantees. That’s just the way it goes, and quite frankly, it’s the way that Haley wants it. It’s an environment where close to nobody is comfortable with their roster spot. But Leggett is battle tested, riding waves of highs and lows throughout his professional career, not just last season. This year, he’ll be in another fight; one for a roster position.

Leggett entered his rookie season in 2008 as an undrafted, small-school long shot out of NCAA Division II Valdosta State. He finished that rookie season as the Chiefs Mack Lee Hill Award winner (Chiefs Rookie of the Year Award). In fact, he’s the only undrafted player to have ever won the Mack Lee Hill Award.

Go back to training camp that year and tell me what odds would have been put on Leggett not only making the team, but beating out high-profile rookies like Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers and Jamaal Charles for the MLH award? 50/1? 100/1? 500/1?

Whatever the odds, the Chiefs nickel corner and special teams standout had some serious momentum riding into the 2009 season. After surviving a regime change, Leggett once again found himself as the Chiefs third cornerback to open the season – viewed as a good reserve and reliable player in nickel sets, in addition to his solid coverage skills on special teams. When Brandon Flowers went down vs. Seattle last preseason, Leggett was there to make a spot-start in his place.

Then Joe Flacco happened.

The Baltimore quarterback routinely went right at Leggett and had some nice success in doing so up until Leggett began to settle down in the second half. Once Leggett settled the Chiefs managed, but he still didn’t look like the Leggett of 2008; at least not to the naked eye. The next week, Flowers returned to action and Leggett went back to his familiar role as the Chiefs primary nickel corner.

In Week Two vs. Oakland, Leggett continued to struggle. Maybe his confidence was a bit shaken from the week before or maybe he was still growing accustomed to new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Only the player knows for certain. Either way, Leggett’s playing time started to dwindle for the next few weeks.

By Week Three, Leggett had gone from starter, to nickel, to splitting nickel snaps. Rookie Donald Washington began to split nickel reps with Leggett, which lasted through through Week Four. By Week Five vs. the Giants, Leggett was back in his role as primary nickel and by Week Seven that position belonged to the newly acquired Mike Richardson. To the bench he went.

Leggett had officially been replaced and would see just 11 total defensive snaps over the next three games. He was still incredibly important on special teams, so Leggett was never inactive, but it appeared that his future on the defense might be in jeopardy.

Facing only one option, Leggett took it. He put his head down and went back to work.

By the time November 15th rolled around, things were looking up for Leggett once again. With an injury to Jarrad Page, the Chiefs were looking for some extra help at free safety on passing downs. Eventually, Leggett transitioned into the Chiefs third-down free safety. He seemed to perform the role well and had once again found his niche, all while continuing to produce on special teams.

The next game of the season represented one of the highs of the 2009 campaign for the Chiefs. For Leggett, it was a low. Kansas City finally put together a complete game and overcame the defending World Champions in an overtime thriller at Arrowhead. Leggett was part of the action, but only briefly.

While covering a punt, Leggett burned past defenders from his gunner position and flew to make a full-speed hit on Steelers return man Stefan Logan. There was contact, but Leggett missed. Leggett then came running off the field with a limp arm, signaling a shoulder injury. That was it for “Mo” in 2009. To the injured reserve list he went.

Ups and downs, ups and downs. Overcoming obstacles is what keeps players in the league.

When Monday’s first OTA of 2010 rolled around, two of Leggett’s teammates who fought shoulder injuries last season (Flowers and Jamaal Charles) sat out of workouts for precautionary reasons. Leggett, on the other hand, not only participated, but he practiced in place of the idle Flowers with the first-team defense.

The roller coaster ride continues. To make the roster on a team that has true competition for opening, it’s all about “the more you can do.”

Leggett can play cornerback, nickel back, free safety and on special teams. That’s a heck of a resume. He’s also got 14 other players to compete with in the defensive backfield, seven of which were drafted within the last three seasons by the Chiefs.

“Only time will tell (where I’ll play),” Leggett said. “If they want me to be somewhere, I’ll be there. Even if they say that I’m just going to play one certain role, I’ll play a certain role.”

Leggett has some serious competition, but he’s already overcome plenty of obstacles over his NFL career.

Just another player to watch in another position of uncertainty; this should be a fun off-season and training camp to watch.

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