Marcus Peters Shows Rare Combination of Confidence, Competitiveness and Humility

The Chiefs first-round pick is fitting in perfectly in Kansas City

Don't call him quiet. He's self-described as laid back.

That's how Kansas City Chiefs first-round pick Marcus Peters characterizes his persona as he walks into the locker room—unassuming and respectful to those around him.

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On the field, Peters has displayed the kind of playmaking ability through his first two games that made him one of the top talents in the 2015 NFL Draft, and his performance thus far has been anything but unassuming.

Peters currently leads the NFL with 7 passes defensed and is tied for the NFL lead with 2 interceptions, both of which came in storybook fashion.

The first play of his NFL career—an interception off Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer.

A week later in his first home game at Arrowhead Stadium—a 55-yard pick-six interception off future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.

He's been every bit as advertised of the playmaker the Chiefs were hoping he would be when they selected him with the No. 18 pick in the draft last April.

But it's not just about what he's done on the field that's been remarkable.

This laid-back rookie has displayed a rare combination of confidence, competitiveness and humility.

He's impressed head coach Andy Reid with not only his playmaking ability, which is obvious, but also with how he's prepared for his craft and how he's carried himself.

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"He works hard at his job and he loves to play football," Reid explained. "He's surrounded by some guys that are good football players, veterans that he looks like he's learning from. I think he's handling himself great. It's just important that he maintains that every week.

"It's a long season but his attitude and his effort are surely there."

The football field is home to Peters, not just because his first steps as a kid were on the field back at McClymonds High School in West Oakland, California, where his dad still works as a coach, but because it's who he is and where he can be himself and let it all out.

"I put so much upon myself because I have that much confidence in my preparation," Peters explained. "The biggest thing for me—to make the week as hard as possible so the games can be easy. When it's time to go play ball and the lights turn on, I get a feeling of freeness.

"I'm in my domain to where anything else that happened outside, it doesn't matter"

When you see Peters jumping around and displaying the kind of passion for football you'd expect from the playmaker he's proving to be, it's easy to see that you're watching a person truly in his element.

But it's not necessarily the same person you'd see walking around the offices at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex.

"I'm laid back," Peters explained. "I wouldn't say I'm quiet, but most of the time I'm just walking around listening in, just staying to myself.

"Like I said, once I hit the field, it's time for me just to have fun, let it all loose. I'm a joyful person, people just don't get to see it a lot."

One person who has seen it is veteran safety Husain Abdullah, who is widely respected as one of the leaders of the Chiefs defense, and he recently spoke highly of the Chiefs rookie playmaker.

"Number one, he's a good person," Abdullah said of Peters. "He's absolutely a good human being and from the day he stepped foot here, he came in and made plays. It was just like adding another veteran to the group. We're very fortunate to have him and we can't wait to see how he blossoms throughout the season.

"That kid's a future star."

One of the characteristics that defines a top-tier cornerback, particularly a rookie, is having a short memory. This allows the defensive back to get beat but still find a way to maintain the inner confidence to be able to come back and be ready for the next play.

It's another area where he impressed Reid last Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, against whom Peters was matched up at times with Demaryius Thomas. Thomas not only has three inches and more than 30 pounds on him, but also has proven to be one of the elite receivers in the NFL over the past three seasons, each of which resulted in 1,000-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns.

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"He wasn't shy against one of the better receivers in the league," Reid explained. "He's able to learn from his mistakes and then come right back at it and challenge you again."

Part of that learning process has been through the time he's spent with a couple of coaches that know a thing or two about playing defensive back at a high level.

Emmitt Thomas, the Chiefs defensive backs coach and a Pro Football Hall of Famer, recently said Peters "is what they've been missing back there."

Thomas is the Chiefs franchise leader in career interceptions with 58 and he's now tutoring a young playmaker whose showing a knack for the same thing that put him in Canton in the Hall of Fame class of 2008.

The Chiefs assistant defensive backs coach, Al Harris, was a standout bump-and-run cornerback who was named a Pro Bowler and All-Pro during his 14-year NFL career.

"He spends a lot of time with Al [Harris]," Reid noted. "I mean, who better to learn from than either of those two (Thomas, Harris)?

"He wants to know everything and he's got the right attitude there."

Between the coaching staff and the veteran leaders on the Chiefs defense, the fit was perfect for both sides and they're each benefitting from the decision general manager John Dorsey and his staff made to bring Peters to the Chiefs.

"To me, as a starter and a rookie to come into a group, that's a blessing," Peters said. "I'm getting coached by a Hall of Famer and an All-Pro cornerback. All of the information you get on the game when you go out there and play on Sundays, it just makes you click that much faster.

"That step you would have taken, you're now six inches ahead of where you would have been. It makes all the difference."

Those six inches may have been earned by the willingness to listen to his coaches, but it's also because of the discipline Peters has shown to dedicate to learning the details and nuances of his craft, which has been noticed by his teammates.

The best shots of Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters so far

"He's very athletic," Chiefs safety Eric Berry explained, "but the thing I notice about him is that he doesn't depend on his athleticism. He depends on his technique and his film study and that's very rare, especially for a rookie."

Whether it's the tutelage given to him by those around him or the friendships he's developing with his teammates, Peters couldn't be happier with his situation and to be a member of the Chiefs.

"I keep telling this to the guys, 'It's the best situation that I could have been put in,'" Peters said. "With the group of veterans that we have and the level of respect that each person shows one another, we have a team full of stars.

"To me, as a young guy, all I can do is come in and do what's asked of me, listen to them and take in all the information they give."

It's not faux humility when Peters speaks of the respect he has for those around him. That's how he was built and how he was raised.

"Mom and Pops always just told me, 'When you're doing something good, always give others credit. Without others you wouldn't be doing such a good job yourself.'

"So I just give praise to everybody."

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He's humble, confident and competitive.

But he's also grounded, which came partly with the birth of his son right before he was dismissed from the team back at Washington a year ago.

It was one of the first steps in changing Peters' perspective.

"Only job I had to do at that moment was to go be with my son," Peters explained of the time he spent after leaving the team. "I needed to be there and show him the same love and support that my father gave me growing up.

"I needed to just let everything else go and clear my mind."

It worked.

Flash forward a year and Peters said that being a father has changed him for the better as his son will soon turn 1 year old.

"It grounds you a lot," Peters explained. "All of those things that you wouldn't typically think about, you put into the back of your mind before you make a decision on anything.

"The most fun thing for me right now is just to see him grow. Once he gets to understanding what daddy does, that's going to be the most fun because there's nothing like getting corrections from your son. I used to do it to my dad."

Whether it's a good day or bad day, Peters knows there's somebody waiting for him that doesn't care about that.

"If I'm having the worst day possible, I can just pick up the phone and see him on FaceTime," Peters said with a smile.

"I love being a dad."

There are so many reasons to root for Peters and many of them have nothing to do with what he's showing on the football field, which is impressive enough.

It's why he's such a rare combination of what you're looking for in a person and a player—confidence, competitiveness and humbleness.

Simply put, the Chiefs got a good one in Peters.

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