Because Julio Jones constantly shifts around to different spots on the field, he tends to face a variety of opponents over the course of a game. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if Marcus Peters, the Chiefs' No. 1 CB, spends most of Sunday covering the three-time Pro Bowler.
Peters, 23, has emerged as one of the NFL's most promising defensive backs. Standing at six feet tall, he has the kind of length needed to handle big pass-catchers. He's aggressive, too, and uses his imposing presence to disrupt receivers near the line of scrimmage.
These physical tools have helped him put up numbers Jones said "are outstanding for a cornerback." The 2015 first-rounder heads into Week 13 with five picks on the year; as a rookie, he notched eight interceptions – two of which he ran back for touchdowns.
That handful of picks has helped Kansas City earn league-bests in turnovers created (24) and turnover differential (plus-14).
"The ball skills are there for sure. That's so easy to see," head coach Dan Quinn said about Peters. "So, a defender who can track the ball in the air and play it like a receiver when it's in the air like Marcus can do, that's a really significant attribute to have. And I think that's probably allows him to be the ball-hawk that he is."
Peters' contributions extend far beyond highlight reel plays. In the 400 pass coverage snaps he's played this season, quarterbacks have targeted him 62 times, and on those attempts, he's allowed just 37 catches for 527 yards and two scores. Factor in his INTs, and QBs have earned an underwhelming 64.4 passer rating when throwing in his direction.
Indeed, Peters is performing like a shutdown corner, and teams around the league are starting to treat him like one. Last week, for example, Broncos QB Trevor Siemian notched 368 passing yards against Kansas City, but only 19 of those yards were gained when going after Peters. This wasn't an aberration: Peters has been targeted only 19 times in his last four appearances, according to Pro Football Focus.
Someone else who's used to the shutdown corner treatment is Desmond Trufant, another University of Washington product. The two were teammates in 2012.
"Coming out of UW, having Tru there, (Peters) saw what he stood for as a competitor. And I think that was probably his first model. He's a very good competitor," Quinn said. "And I think that always should be at the front of your thinking, and especially at corner, knowing that you're going to get challenged."