L’Jarius Sneed says his mental preparation and meditation have been key to early NFL career.
L’Jarius Sneed has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 season for the Kansas City Chiefs, even as he’s also been forced to miss more games than he’s played.
Coming into the season, the Chiefs were forced to deal with a seriously thin secondary in which healthy cornerbacks were at a premium. Bashaud Breeland was suspended. Alex Brown was injured. Antonio Hamilton was new. Rashad Fenton and Charvarius Ward were the only players with a single snap in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense schemes, and the team’s greatest investment in any real outside help came at the end of the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, when the Chiefs selected Sneed out of Louisiana Tech.
What no one would have predicted at that point was that Sneed, without a single preseason game in which to practice what he was learning, was rewarded with starter’s reps on the outside from Week 1. Sneed responded in kind with the sort of lockdown coverage expected of a respected veteran. After two games, Sneed not only had two interceptions but he’d also provided the defense with security in the secondary.
"“Before my first game, what I did was, I meditated,” Sneed told reporters this week. “That helps me a lot when I meditate because it slows my thinking down. If I’m out there and my mind’s just blowing, I’m going to be obnoxious or uptight. I don’t want to do that, so meditation has helped me a lot with my game, actually. I go home and I meditate and it takes a lot off my mind.”"
Sneed spoke to the media on Wednesday on the other side of a lot of things—a position change, his first major injury, his return back to the field. In Week 3, Sneed suffered a fractured collarbone and was forced to leave the Chiefs win over the Baltimore Ravens early. From there, Sneed would go on to miss the next several games and didn’t return until Week 11 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Before he went on injured reserve, Sneed was assigned to the boundary. Upon his return, he was playing inside. “I was at corner. I’m out there on an island by myself. But nicke is totally different from corner. With nickel you have to be patient, and I think it’s teaching me patience within myself,” he said.
Now that everyone is back for the Chiefs, including Breeland from suspension, and the Chiefs have multiple pieces upon which they can lean at cornerback, Sneed isn’t worried about how everything will come together. “I think we’re a very adjustable team. Whatever they throw at us, we’re very adjustable.”
For Sneed, it’s all about the right mentality, whether he needs to slow the game down as a rookie or to keep priorities straight as a team. That’s also true of his ballhawk reputation.
“It’s just a mindset, man. Gotta have it in your mind, like go get it. If you want something, you’ll go get it. That’s what in my mindset. If I see ball, it’s see ball, get ball,” said Sneed.
Sneed has 17 total tackles, 3 deflected passes, 2 interceptions and has allowed a 33.9 passer rating in 5 starts for the Chiefs.