A shaky Kansas City Chiefs defense just got a little wobblier heading into the 2015 NFL season. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, star cornerback Sean Smith will miss the first three games of the year due to a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Smith reportedly plead guilty to a DUI in June and was handed two years of probation from the league. In addition, he will also miss the first three games of the season.

It’s a relatively big blow for a Kansas City secondary that was already walking a fine line with just Smith and rookie corner Marcus Peters to lean on. With safety Eric Berry still not back from his battle with cancer, Smith’s absence could leave the Chiefs incredibly short-handed for three crucial games to kick off the season. With the three-game ban, Smith is scheduled to miss bouts with the Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. Smith will be due back in week four, when he’d make his 2015 season debut against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Not having Smith against the Texans isn’t a huge deal. Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett aren’t formidable passers and Houston tends to run far more than they pass. However, matchups against Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning could prove difficult without one of the team’s top cover men. Kansas City still has a stout pass rush to lean on, but Smith being out could force rookie cornerback Marcus Peters into heavy action, regardless of whether or not he starts year one as an impact starter.

The Chiefs boasted a strong defense a year ago and regularly shutdown opposing passing games, while keeping opponents below 18 points per game. They may not be playing at an elite level to start the season, unfortunately, as Smith drops their pass defense down a notch. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Chiefs will lose all of those games to start the year, but it’s certainly not a help for a team already facing stiff competition in a difficult AFC West division.

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