KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Rashad Fenton missed one of the biggest games of the year against the Buffalo Bills last month due to a hamstring injury, the defensive back room immediately got younger.
But one of those cornerbacks, rookie Trent McDuffie, had to watch from the sideline because he was still treating a hamstring injury that put him on injured reserve.
Fenton, who played in 47 career games with the Chiefs, was later traded to the Atlanta Falcons right before the buzzer hit zero on the trade deadline.
The trade of "Uncle Fent," as McDuffie affectionately called him, left the rookie disappointed.
"(He) was just that dude who taught all the DBs," McDuffie said. "He was one of those dudes who I looked up to and really taught me this system and how to play DB here."
Joshua Williams, another first-year defensive back, echoed McDuffie's sentiments on Fenton after last Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.
"We love Rashad (Fenton)," Williams said. "He taught all the rookies a lot. He gave me a lot of little tidbits and little tips just coming in as a rookie."
McDuffie said he is excited about Fenton's journey but also understands what the move means for him and the rest of the young defensive back group.
"It comes back to us and just seeing the coaches have full faith in the rookies and just knowing that we gotta go out there and now, we gotta produce," McDuffie said.
Williams agreed with McDuffie about the team's trust factor in a defensive back core that lacks NFL experience.
"It says a lot," Williams said. "I'm glad that they believe in (us) like that."
Fellow rookie Jaylen Watson stepped up in place of McDuffie, most notably grabbing a monumental 99-yard pick-six against the Los Angeles Chargers in his first career start.
"It's always huge when you can see another rookie who's come in, who's gone through the same process as you, go out there and make plays (on) a big stage," McDuffie said. "I mean, we're always together, we're in the same room. So I had confidence in him."
Now he's back playing alongside Williams, who completed nine total tackles against the Bills and grabbed an interception against the San Francisco 49ers in McDuffie's absence.
Despite only having two total tackles, one of them was an open-field tackle for loss against Titans running back Derrick Henry in the second quarter.
After getting nine carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Henry only had 23 yards on eight carries after halftime.
"Going into this (game), the coaches' whole game plan was to stop 22 (Derrick Henry) and I feel like, after the first half, that's exactly what we did," Williams said.
McDuffie is observant of the standard that the Chiefs expect from the entire youthful core of defensive backs, which he's noticed since he was drafted 21st overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Seeing the veterans be cool, calm and collected while playing in his first-ever overtime game in the NFL helped McDuffie out.
"For me, it was almost relieving," McDuffie said. "It was like, as a young dude who doesn't know anything, hasn't played in an overtime game in the NFL, just seeing the guys relaxed and composed helped me to stay that way."
McDuffie was grateful to see their controlled demeanor in such a close, physical game.
"That really showed me that our team is really tight-bonded and really (sticks) together," McDuffie said.