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Steve Spagnuolo: CB L'Jarius Sneed clearing concussion protocol 'huge' for Chiefs defense

PHOENIX -- The Kansas City Chiefs will have a key member of their secondary for the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cornerback L'Jarius Sneed said Monday at Super Bowl LVII Opening Night that he cleared concussion protocol after exiting the AFC Championship Game following just four snaps.

Sneed missed practices last week but said he was able to be in the film room later in the week as the Chiefs installed their game plan.

Sneed is in just his third season in the NFL after the Chiefs selected him in the fourth round in 2020, but he's the aged veteran compared to the rest of the DB room. 

The Chiefs have leaned on rookies in the secondary all season. 2022 first-round pick Trent McDuffie and seventh-rounder Jaylen Watson have played vital roles. When Sneed went down with the concussion, it thrust fourth-rounder Joshua Williams into a bigger role in the championship game. 

"It feels kind of weird because I'm young myself," Sneed said. "I'm still adjusting (to being a leader). I learned a lot this year being a leader."

The fact that the Chiefs have been successful despite such a young secondary speaks volumes to the coaching staff -- and the pressure the defensive front has gotten in recent weeks.

Getting Sneed back is a relief to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

"Huge," Spagnuolo told of the cornerback clearing protocol. "When we didn't have him last week, it was a huge concern. The young guys stepped up, but L'Jarius is really important to us. He's our leader back there. He makes plays for us. Played a lot of different positions, and I'm glad he's cleared and ready to go."

The DC is thrilled to have his leader back, but the rookies stepping up in the AFC championship brings confidence moving forward.

"We know if something happens, we can fall back on those guys," he said. "Those guys haven't blinked all year long when they've had to go in. It's a credit to the guys that coach them. ... It's a really close unit together. It's been huge. L'Jarius is certainly a leader of that group."

The Chiefs' young secondary has a tough test ahead against Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and the rest of the Eagles' passing game. However, having the crew as healthy as possible heading into the game is an excellent first step.

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