Kansas City Chiefs rookie offensive tackle Donald Stephenson started in place of the injured Branden Albert last during the Chiefs' 17-9 loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday. The third-round draft pick out of Oklahoma has now started three games and has seen action in all 11 games in his first season. He said at Monday's team press conference he's growing more comfortable every time he steps on the field.
Stephenson also started against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11, and said Sunday's game against the Broncos was a little easier to adjust to:
"Yeah, Cincinnati, I was trying to feel it out. This game, I knew that if I tried to go out there and try to feel it out and figure out how the game was going to go, I'd probably get my butt kicked so I came out aggressive and knew I had to play hard."
Stephenson also said nerves were less of an issue, and that better practices and more experience has only added to his confidence:
"The more you prepare yourself through the week and how hard you practice; it kind of gives you more confidence when Sunday comes around. If you don't prepare right and you don't practice right, you have a right to go in there a little bit nervous because you don't have confidence in what you did all week."
Gaining experience for some of the team's promising rookies is one of the few things the Chiefs (1-10) have to play for the remainder of the season. Owners of the league's worst record, the Chiefs are in line for the top overall pick in next year's NFL Draft, so seeing who on the current roster is worth keeping around is something Stephenson and other young players can use as motivation to stick around with the team.