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Kansas City Chiefs rookie DB Zayne Anderson's 2021 season in … – Chiefs Wire

The Kansas City Chiefs added six draft picks in the 2021 NFL draft and a number of undrafted free agents too. Several of those rookies made contributions on offense, defense and special teams during the course of the 2021 regular season and postseason. One particular rookie was a December promotion from the practice squad, and despite a pair of egregious errors on special teams the team stuck with him.
Let’s take a look at Zayne Anderson’s rookie season and see what we can project for the future.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Anderson did not make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster out of the gate. He was among the players cut and later signed to the practice squad, but he wouldn’t be kept from the action long. After Tyrann Mathieu tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the season opener, the team called up Anderson for Week 1 of the regular season as a COVID replacement. He didn’t see any action on defense, but he played seven snaps on special teams.
That was just the first taste for Anderson, though. After spending the majority of the season working on the scout team, Kansas City promoted Anderson to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He wouldn’t see any action until Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers where he recorded his first tackle. Unfortunately, the good wouldn’t last for Anderson.
In Week 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals, things start to go awry. An illegal block in the back penalty erased an 86-yard kick returned for a touchdown by Byron Pringle. That penalty erased six points in a game that the Chiefs lost by three points. A week later when the team traveled to Denver to face the Broncos, Anderson had another costly penalty. After forcing a quick three-and-out, Anderson ended up with a running-into-the-kicker penalty that put the defense in a bad position. They ultimately gave up their first score of the game as a result of the penalty.
Many fans called for Anderson to be released after the second special teams error, but Dave Toub defended him. “Don’t let one bad play mess up the next play,” Toub said. Anderson continued playing through the postseason and recorded one special teams tackle during the wild-card round against the Steelers.
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
Anderson is sure to be heavily involved in the special teams unit in Kansas City for 2022. Toub said during the season that the rookie made some great plays in practice which led to his promotion and the team’s faith in him. He just needs a breakthrough to get that to translate on gameday. Another offseason in the system could be the difference-maker for him.
The verdict is still out on Anderson’s ability to play safety in the Chiefs’ defense. He didn’t play a single snap of defense during the regular season or postseason. That said, there should be some opportunities for him to rise to the occasion and claim a spot in Kansas City. The Chiefs have three safeties (Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts) scheduled to hit free agency. Outside of Juan Thornhill, the team is lacking depth at the position. That could open an opportunity for Anderson to claim a No. 3 or No. 4 safety spot in Kansas City. It’s all going to be up to how he attacks this upcoming offseason, though.
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
We’ll debut our rookie season reviews over the next several weeks, including RT Lucas Niang who opted out in 2020. We’re specifically looking at guys who were elevated to the 53-man roster at one point or another, so you won’t find Cornell Powell, Devon Key, Mark Vital or Malik Herring here. Check back here for hyperlinks to the article when they’re available.
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
Articles: 7580

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