The Chiefs defense will rely heavily on young players once again this year led by fifth overall pick Eric Berry. While he has been impressive early on in camp, it’s another rookie in Javier Arenas that will join him early and often on the field this season, according to Josh Looney.
Javier Arenas got a lot of work in at nickel, taking every rep at the position in back-to-back drives during team period. The offense and defense had rotated players, but Arenas stayed in the heat for double duty.
Earlier in the day, head coach Todd Haley had no problem complimenting the young Arenas.
“I think Javier is doing a good job… He has had his ups and downs but it doesn’t look too big for him. He is paying attention; he is studying his playbook all the time,” Haley said.
The most important aspect of Arenas’ rookie season will be just how many plays he is on the field for, something that hasn’t escaped Haley’s mind.
“You will see him in a bunch of different roles. He really is, in my mind, the mirror image of McCluster, he is just playing on the other side of the ball. They are both versatile players, not because they are both small, but they have to be managed and as the head coach that is my job, not to put too much on their plate but to make sure they are getting enough and let’s see how good they can be.”
It’s not a state secret that Berry’s ability to lead the Chiefs defense will decide how big of a step forward the unit takes this season. Arenas did an amazing job at Alabama blitzing from the nickel position, something that he no doubt will be asked to repeat for the Chiefs in preseason to see how well he handles that responsibility.
Also, you cannot diminish how important Arenas will be not only for the defense but also on special teams. McCluster is the “joystick” type player, but don’t forget that Arenas holds the SEC record for career punt return touchdowns.
Arenas’ touches in the return game will depend on two things. First, how well will McCluster take to the unique experience of returning kicks? He has shown some impressive moves on offense early on, but returning kicks is a whole different monster. Second, who gets on the field more, McCluster on offense or Arenas on defense. Haley has mentioned more than once during training camp (and last year talking about Jamaal Charles) that you have to know how much is too much.