It seems every year there is a relatively unknown player in the Super Bowl who makes a big splash. With star-studded rosters, the ‘under the radar’ guys will be looking to make their mark for the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this year’s title fight as well.
For the Chiefs, that player could very well be a guy who will be playing in just his twelfth game in his rookie season. He is rookie defensive back, L’Jarius Sneed. And Ryan Tracy of the Locked On Chiefs Podcast certainly thinks he has a chance at making his mark on Raymond James Stadium, in Super Bowl LV.
I have to admit, when I heard Tracy say Sneed’s name I kind of said, ‘who?’. Which of course only solidifies his nomination as an under the radar player.
I’ve heard of Sneed, so it’s not like he was a complete unknown, but I can honestly say had you asked me to name eleven Chiefs defenders without looking at a roster his name might have been left off the list.
So, who is he? Well, for starters he’s a six-foot-tall defensive back who was drafted out of Louisiana Tech in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
His career started much better than most fourth-round picks as he secured two interceptions in his first two games while starting both games according to Pro Football Reference and helped the Chiefs get off to a three-game winning streak to start the year.
Then, an injury happened, and Sneed didn’t play again until Week 11 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Again, the Chiefs won.
Over the next three games, Sneed played but didn’t have large impacts on games as he got his playing legs back under him. In Kansas City’s Week 12 win over the Buccaneers, he had three combined tackles and nothing else. So it’s ok if Bucs fans don’t know who he is either.
Then something good started happening. He started getting sacks. His first career sack came in a road win over the New Orleans Saints in a game he also got an interception in. It was his third credited start since coming back from injury and helped his team win a three-point game against a top NFC contender.
The next week he had another sack. Then another. Then another. Four straight weeks Sneed got to opposing quarterbacks. A new wrinkle in the Chiefs defense emerged, and now they have a defender who can cover, and rush the passer. Just depends on what defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo decides to dial-up.
In fact, this was the exact sentiment Sneed shared with me when I asked him about being an under-the-radar player.
“You know man, I know coach (Spagnuolo) dialed up the best defense for us. Put us in the best position that we need to be in, and I know the guys up front (are) going to handle theirs and the linebackers (are) going to handle theirs, and we’re going to handle ours from the back end. I feel like Spag got us in the right position. Everybody just do their job and we’re preparing now for two weeks now so, just go out there and play ball and put God first.”
Put your head down and work. It’s gotten Sneed this far, so he has no reason not to trust in it now.
He may be under the radar, but his play on the field and his production show he can impact the game from just about anywhere on the field.
Of course, with the enormous amount of preparation Tom Brady is said to be putting in for this run, he certainly knows who Sneed is. This is good because if Ryan Tracy is right, and the Buccaneers don’t come in ready for a versatile young defender like Sneed, Brady might get a less than pleasant introduction to him, on the field.