Kendrick Lewis is saying all of the right things. Let's hope he's also telling the truth.
The Kansas City Chiefs safety is coming back to a changed unit. The Chiefs secondary looks much different than it did last season -- in both good and uncertain ways. To that end, the potential is great here for Romeo Crennel's defense to have a stellar secondary unit, but several things must come together the right way for the defensive backfield to move into such potential. Consider the following:
1. Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry is coming off of a torn ACL and subsequent rehab, and he is the x-factor for all of this. An impact defender, Berry makes the job of everyone else that much easier and his return to the unit is vital.
2. Brandon Carr left this offseason after starting every game for four seasons at cornerback for the Chiefs, and now will be doing the same for the Dallas Cowboys after signing a $50 million free agent contract. Stanford Routt of the Oakland Raiders was brought in to replace him before he was even gone on a far cheaper contract, but Routt was let go for a reason from Oakland's own depleted secondary.
3. Brandon Flowers is the mainstay, the now-veteran corner who is nursing a minor injury already in camp, and perhaps the one player besides Tamba Hali that the Chiefs can ill afford an injury to on the defensive side.
4. Lewis himself is coming back from surgery he had right after the season for a torn pectoral. He's still wearing a brace and it will be interesting to see how he returns.
Taken all together and there are concerns about replacing a longtime effective starter in Carr while dealing with returns from injury for everyone else. Flowers is the safest bet, yet even the minor injury reminded everyone just how valuable he is. However, Lewis said that the team is okay and doing what they need to do to get better.
"We're coming along good," said Lewis. "The chemistry is getting there. We've got a lot of young guys who are helping us along the way. Eric is doing good things. We lost [Brandon Flowers] to a little minor injury, but he'll be back.
"As a whole secondary, I feel like we're doing good things. We're building; we're getting better every day. We're not where we need to be, I would say, but we're getting better every day. We come out here and make it our duty to get better every day."
As for his own injury, Lewis spoke in positive terms as well, but it was media speak.
"Physically, I feel good," said Lewis. I haven't had any real serious contact. I'm going to keep the brace on until the doctors or the trainers tell me otherwise. I'm feeling good, I'm ready, I'm looking forward to this game Friday and we'll see how it goes from there."
The bottom line is that only actual game-time results will show just how healthy and ready these players are to take on the gauntlet of the 2012 schedule. The pressure will come early from a high-flying passing attack from Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in which Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez will all challenge the pass defense.