KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the midst of Russell Wilson dropping passes into air-tight windows in last year’s Week 16 matchup, rookie cornerback Charvarius Ward pleaded to his coaches.

“I told coach to take me out of the game to help that because I barely could breathe,” Ward said.

As expected, there’s little chance his plan could work.

They kept me in there, said I couldn’t come out,” Ward said. “The second half, things didn’t go my way. It’s a learning experience. I got better than game, a lot better.”

Hoisted into the starting role for the first time, Ward put together a solid opening half before falling victim to his conditioning level late in the contest.

It’s been his main point of attack in his first offseason as he prepares for an elevated role in 2019.

“Mainly my conditioning and my technique, getting better at those two things. … I trained all offseason,” Ward said. “I didn’t really take a break after the conference championship loss. I didn’t take a break, I was working all offseason, two or three times a day.”

This offseason he’s getting snaps with the first- and second-team secondary in his first minicamp with the team. He joined the Chiefs via a trade with Dallas late in the preseason, starting three of the final four games in favor of Orlando Scandrick. In that span he made 26 tackles and defended three passes.

His teammates noticed his abilities immediately a season ago.

“He’s going out there and giving it all that he has,” former cornerback Steven Nelson said prior to the AFC title game. “I just saw something from him from the beginning. He has a lot of talent. He’s tall and longer guy, athletic, so I’m confident in him.”

Undrafted out of Middle Tennessee State, Ward has spent bits of practice working 1-on-1 with his coaches and newly hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

“There’s a lot more communicating, a lot more teaching. They’re more enthusiastic and better teachers,” Ward said. “The coaches, the communication, it’s a whole lot better. We’re having a lot more fun, the players and the coaches. We get excited.”

Ward drew praise from coach Andy Reid and Brett Veach in the offseason and appears confident heading toward the start of the season.

This year, he’s ready to be the go-to man in the late-game situations.

“It’s a dream come true. The Chiefs gave me an opportunity, the Cowboys also gave me an opportunity, but the Chiefs believed in me more, they traded for me,” Ward said. “So coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach, they see a lot in me so they gave me an opportunity.

“I respect them for that and I thank them for that, and I’m going to prove them right.”

Brandon Zenner can be reached

at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.