KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Incrementally, the Kansas City Chiefs' defense is improving, which is an encouraging sign for Andy Reid's first-place club.
"It's every day, every week and what you really hope over the course of the season that you can improve and keep it going," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said.
With injuries mounting, the defense has been forced to lean heavily on some of its younger talent, including rookie linebacker Dorian O'Daniel.
That is especially true with inside linebacker Terrance Smith out with a torn ACL,
O'Daniel hopped saw his first significant playing time of the season with the defense last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but being prepared to go in at a moment's notice has become a Chiefs' calling card.
"I just prepare like I'm going to be the starter week in and week out — being locked in on my job, the details of my assignments and executing at a higher level," O'Daniel said.
Despite limited playing time, O'Daniel made four tackles against the Bengals, which speaks to his progress through the season's first two months.
The Chiefs expect big things from O'Daniel, the third-round pick from Clemson, as he continues to develop and adjust to the speed of the game.
"Quarterbacks are going to put the ball where you can't get it," O'Daniel said. "He (a receiver) may be in good coverage and just because you are covering the guy doesn't mean the quarterback is not going to throw it. Being able to react to those throws and break on the ball, even when you're in good coverage, is not necessarily a challenge, but a big difference."
Sutton agreed that the speed of the game and skill of the players is the toughest adjustment for defenders entering the NFL.
"You don't always have as much time to interpret what's going on in the new system, but he's blessed with some really good talent and he's a good football player (with) good instincts and he's going to get better and better the more he plays," Sutton said.