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Old 08-22-2010, 12:33 AM  
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Babb:Chiefs defensive back Leggett suffers neck injury in loss to Tampa Bay

Chiefs defensive back Leggett suffers neck injury in loss to Tampa Bay
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

TAMPA, Fla. | Chiefs defensive back Maurice Leggett had movement in his extremities after suffering a neck injury late in the third quarter Saturday, and coach Todd Haley said Leggett would spend the night in a Tampa hospital for observation.

Leggett, a third-year defender, was carted off the field after being tended to for about 10 minutes after his head jerked backward as he tried to tackle Tampa Bay running back Kareem Huggins. Trainers helped Leggett onto a backboard and lifted him onto a cart as players from both teams gathered on the field. Chiefs players formed a semicircle and appeared to say a short prayer.

“You don’t know how serious it is; you don’t know if it’s career-ending,” said cornerback Brandon Flowers, who entered the league with Leggett in 2008. “We’ve been through everything together, me, him and (cornerback Brandon) Carr. It kind of hit hard. Our prayers are with him; we just hope to see him soon.”

Haley said a member of the Chiefs’ training staff would remain with Leggett on Saturday night and that the player would return to Kansas City after he’s discharged. Haley didn’t specify the severity of Leggett’s injury or how long he might be out.

“They’re going to make sure of everything, but at least from that standpoint, it sounded encouraging,” Haley said. “When you hear extremities moving and all those things (are) good, that’s positive.”

Leggett was an undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State when he made the Chiefs roster as a cornerback. He has spent time as a nickel corner and a safety in his two-plus seasons. He has played mostly cornerback during training camp and preseason.

The Chiefs looked shaken after Leggett left, and they quickly allowed the Buccaneers to score 10 points in less than nine minutes, which pushed Tampa Bay to a 20-15 victory. Haley said he wasn’t surprised that players were jarred after Leggett’s injury — but said that injuries are an unavoidable part of football.

“It takes an extreme amount of focus to try to keep your mind,” Haley said. “All these guys care about each other. We’re becoming a family and a pretty tight-knit group, it appears to me. It’s only natural to worry about one of your teammates.”

Rookie safety Kendrick Lewis said it wasn’t easy to focus on football after Leggett’s injury and the long delay.

“Our heart goes out to Maurice. You pray for him. You hope he gets well,” Lewis said. “But we had a game to finish, and that’s what we had to do. We couldn’t just let down. Injuries happen in games, and you just have to stay focused. That’s our brother, our friend, our teammate, but we have to keep striving to try to get this game.”

Leggett missed much of the second half of last season because of a shoulder injury, but he was healthy enough this offseason to compete with Javier Arenas to be the Chiefs’ starting nickel corner. Leggett was impressive during a night practice in St. Joseph, knocking away several passes in one-on-one drills against wide receivers.

“All the guys were saying their little private prayers,” Haley said, “to make sure Maurice is going to be good to go, which I’m encouraged about.”
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