CHARLES: “Yeah, I’m very excited. I’m very mature now, I’m 27 years old and I’ve seen a lot through the years I’ve played in the NFL. I know how to handle these situations, I didn’t know how to start a game at Arrowhead and now I’m experienced and I know how to open a game at Arrowhead. I can help the young guys as well and be a leader.”
Q: What do you tell the young guys about the season opener?
CHARLES: “It’s no pressure. There’s going to be a Sea of Red and a lot of fans are going to be excited. It’s going to be packed and just go with it. It’s joyful to play here on Sundays and you show out. When you get the opportunity to make plays, you’ve got to make plays.”
Q: Is there a difference between the week leading up to the season opener? Do you know this is the week when it’s for real?
CHARLES: “Yeah, its game time, its game week. Everybody has a different feeling. Coaches are excited, they are pumped. I know my running backs coach (Eric Bieniemy) is really excited, he texted me at six o’clock in the morning. I told him, ‘I’m still asleep and don’t do that anymore’. So, I mean he’s really excited, he can’t wait to go. I’m excited to get back on the field and start making more history, again. I have more records to break; it’s all about breaking records.”
Q: What are your goals? What records are you trying to break?
CHARLES: “Anything, I don’t tell people my goals. I just go out there and whatever comes up. Records are meant to be broken. So that’s what I go out there and do, and try to help my team win.”
Q: How important is it to win the first game?
CHARLES: “I mean winning your first game; you always want to win your first game. I’ve e been wanting to win my first game since I was in Pop Warner playing and in college. Winning that first game is important, things happen, but our goal out there is to win the first game of the season. We’re not even worrying about who our next opponent is because we’re just taking it one game at a time. Whoever comes next that’s who comes next.”
SMITH: “Yes, absolutely. They count, this is it. No question you want to go out there and win every game and play well and execute but as soon as that fourth preseason game is done, the slate is clean. No one remembers and no one cares what your record is. These count, the win-loss column counts, and so no question the atmosphere and energy is definitely different.”
Q: Can you talk about
SMITH: “Yeah, he’s a real matchup for us. I think a real playmaker, big, big-time speed and with that comes big play potential. I think the tough thing with last year is Donnie played through a lot, got banged up, kind of played through it, gutted it out a lot of times, but certainly I don’t think was 100 percent at all times, which is hard. So I think with that, yeah he was a guy we looked at last year, I know I certainly did at times and could’ve done a lot more. There was a lot out there that we left on the field and certainly I think we need to take advantage of at times because there are some times we have some matchups that are really favorable with him.”
Q: How nice is it to have your contract taken care of before the regular season?
SMITH: “Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that it’s done and the peace of mind of not having to deal with it. It’s all on football and the focus is there 100 percent, that it’s not sitting in the back of your head, thinking about playing for a new contract as you go out on the field. Anything else, you’re living week to week. You’ve got to go out there and play well this week and we’ve got to prepare this week and try to find a way to win. As a quarterback that’s your deal and you’re not thinking beyond that so very, very shortsighted.”
Q: What about having three healthy tight ends and how they can add another dimension?
SMITH: “Yeah, no question. I think that’s a part of it. Every room, every especially skill position room on offense, yeah, they all have a piece to play and I think it’s our job collectively to get it done. It’s certainly no question the tight ends I think are a matchup for us. I think we like that, I think we like getting them on the field and seeing how teams play us and the balance that we have with those guys on the field, run and pass.”
Q: Is there any way to quantify the difference between a first year and second year system?
SMITH: “No, it’s tough. I think when you step back, you look at the years as a whole, you could. But the matchups are so unique every year, they’re always changing, and this week it’s a new matchup vs. certain personnel and scheme and you’ve got to try and find a way to go out and execute against it. The next week it’s different, and the week after that is different so tough to compare. Certainly we’re ahead of the game from where we were last year as far as what we have in and I think what we’re capable of. It’s a matter of going out there and playing up to that though. You still have to do it, you’ve got to go out there on Sundays and play well. I think it comes down to execution and all of those little details.”
Q: Was last year at all complicated as far as getting the offense down?
SMITH: “Yeah, it’s complicated because it’s news. These are NFL offenses, they’re all complicated. Regardless of volume or anything like that, just the details of what you are doing. So no question, as the season went on, you got more comfortable with it because you were doing it so that’s only natural.”
Q: How collective is the process of game planning?
SMITH: “Some weeks more than others. Some weeks, ideas hit you, you look at them and coaches accept the ideas and some weeks the stuff is already in and ready to roll. So it just depends. But certainly us as a quarterback room, once we get the gameplan, we digest that together, and going through it and trying to play the game in advance as you’re watching film, as you’re getting the looks out on the practice field with the looks. Yeah, you’re trying to digest that and go through all the what-ifs and have answers for all of them.”
Q: What gives you hope that you will be able to do the same things on offense this year even if teams know what is coming?
SMITH: “I think the package on the offense that Coach Reid and Doug (Pederson) put together speaks for itself, that it’s comprehensive enough especially with his role that it’s tough to defend, that you can’t defend all of it. Certainly it’s up to the other guys on the field, especially in the perimeter group, that we need to pick up the other end of that so they can’t defend everybody. And if they want to give Jamaal (Charles) a bunch of attention, then other guys are going to have opportunities and we need to capitalize.”
Q: What is realistic to expect from the offensive line in this first game?
SMITH: “To be honest, I haven’t even thought about it. And I don’t think necessarily like that. For us, what do we need to do as an offense to go out and execute and put points on the board and then what do we need to do as a team – the 53 guys in that locker room – to find a win no matter who’s out there. There’s no real stat sheet for those guys up front, it’s just we’ve got to go out as a unit and find a way to win. Everybody’s got to do their job – quarterback, guard, receiver, whatever. We all have to go out there and execute in order for the group as a whole to have a chance.”
Q: So do you reach out to the younger guys like
SMITH: “To be honest, nothing different than I would do on any week preparing. If I’ve got little things with Dwayne, I’m going to tell him. If I’ve got little things for Frankie on certain plays, I’m telling him that, no question. If I guess I saw something that I felt like I needed to say, I would, but certainly Frankie for example, I feel like he’s a guy who prepares hard every day so I’m not worried about it.”
Q: How important is it for this team to go out there and make a statement?
SMITH: “I mean, the statement is the win. That’s all that we’re worried about is just trying to find a way to win and every team, all 32 teams in the NFL are trying to do the exact same thing and Tennessee is trying to do the same thing. You just hope you’ve done all the little things preparing and those little things on game day that will give you the edge. I don’t think there’s a statement we’re trying to make other than get to 1-0.”
Q: You wore that Len Dawson shirt a couple of weeks ago. How important is it to you guys to win for not only yourself, but for these ambassadors?
SMITH: “I think it just lends itself to the environment around here. There’s a tremendous amount of tradition, tremendous amount of family-feel around here going all the way back to the beginning and you can feel that. I felt it from my first day here and I think that’s only a part of it. You walk around the building and it’s the same thing. You see it. You see the past, you see the history. Certainly with Len, we get to see him a lot. It’s great, and for me as a quarterback, that’s awesome. I get to pick his brain here and there and to talk to him, but certainly it kind of speaks to the bigger deal and the environment around here and how special it is to have that kind of tradition and legacy and family-feel.”
Q: Can you talk about the Tennessee defense? Is there a different feel of this defense?
SMITH: “Tough to know to be honest. Certainly a lot of the personnel is the same so you kind of look at the film from last year from a personnel perspective of who you’re playing, but for me as a quarterback, I feel like I’m playing against all of the guys. So for me, it’s a little more beneficial looking at the scheme as well as the personnel. That’s tough. Are they showing everything in the preseason or are they not? Are they saving stuff? Are they hiding stuff or surprising you with something. So, a little bit. You’re kind of preparing for the unknown. You try to prepare for everything, have some answers. Know you might get something that they didn’t show because it was only preseason.”
FASANO: “Tough year last year, some injuries, some guys stepped up, but we’re onto a new year now and I think we had a good camp and we’re getting better day by day. I think the tight ends in this offense can really be a weapon and can help us create some mismatches and help win games.”
Q: Have you thought about in numbers what the tight ends could produce for this offense if you guys stay healthy?
FASANO: “I think you can go back to Coach Reid’s offense and history and try to track those numbers. I haven’t. I think they’re pretty consistent and pretty strong.”
Q: Seems like he likes to keep you active in the offense. Is that why you came here?
FASANO: “Sure, yeah. Coach Reid has a great history with tight ends in this offense and part of the reason I came. Super frustrating year last year, but hope to erase that and be productive this season.”
Q: What is your comfort level with this offense from last year?
FASANO: “I feel pretty comfortable. There were times last year coming in on Wednesdays getting new plays and having to adjust, but this year so far I feel pretty comfortable and able to help out some of the younger guys when I can but also kind of concentrate on my details at my position and my responsibilities.”
Q: What are your thoughts on
FASANO: “Very athletic. It’s good to have him back. He’s not only a great player on the field, he’s a good guy in the locker room, in the huddle, has a lot of spirit, youthful attitude, but he’s going to be a problem for the defenses and we look forward to getting two of us on the field and even three of us sometimes and creating mismatches.”
AVERY: “The biggest thing is just staying healthy, just being out there. I felt like even though you might think I fell off, I was still available to help the team whether it was blocking, taking two down the field or wherever.”
Q: Do you see a bigger role for you this year with it now being your second year here?
AVERY: “Year two, we know the system. Last year was the foundation, so we’re building on the foundation. And just whenever coach calls, we’ve got to be there to make plays.”
Q: Do you think your role will be any different this week without Dwayne Bowe in the lineup?
AVERY: “No, I think coach is going to put us – everybody that’s playing – in position to make plays. It’s my role this game to calm down all the rookie guys, tell them, ‘hey, this is an ordinary game, just be yourself and go out there and play hard.’”
Q: What do you think about Frankie Hammond Jr. going out there in his first real NFL game?
AVERY: “He’s a cool, collected guy. Nothing seems to faze him. I think he’ll do well.”
Q: How do you not put too much pressure on yourself with you now being the number one receiver for this week?
AVERY: “Coach is going to put us in position to make plays. Wherever it is, we are going to be there, whether it’s putting me in some of Dwayne Bowe’s plays backside or putting the young guys in some of Dwayne Bowe’s plays. We’ve just got to step up and take that role.”
SMITH: “It is, it is. You know, it goes back to OTAs. We’re grinding out in that heat going against our offense every day, going through camp. Same thing, pounding against our own offense. So, we finally get to go out there and show what we’ve got for real.”
Q: You faced (Tennessee Head Coach Ken) Whisenhunt twice last year. Does this help in your game plan?
SMITH: “It definitely does. We understand that he did play, well he did coach for San Diego and they might carry over the same offense. Their playmakers are kind of similar in the sense that they have a very athletic tight end. They have some shifty guys out there on the edges. So, we assume they’re going to come out there and carry on the same game plan they’ve faced us with before. You never know. You go off what you see in season and preseason. As long as you prepare your technique you’ll be alright.”
Q: When you play against a team that runs 11 personnel exclusively, does that change anything for you as a cornerback?
SMITH: “For me, it doesn’t change anything. I think last year we pretty much ran nickel which means someone else was in 11 personnel pretty much, almost, the whole season. We’re definitely used to it. In the DB room we actually look forward to it because we have more of our guys on the field. That’s why it’s fun.”
Q: What’s the comfort level of all of you in defensive back field?
SMITH: “It’s cool. I mean the good thing we have pretty much the same guys with the exception of
Q: How much did you miss
SMITH: “Not only did we miss him as a person, but as a leader, playmaker out there. You can’t replace Eric Berry, but I think the one positive that came out of it was guys stepped up. We understand that he brings so much to the table and we weren’t looking to one guy to replace him. We all brought energy, effort, excitement. We all hustled to the ball and try to make those plays that Eric would usually make.”
KELCE: “It was a really frustrating time but I’d rather not go into the dark ages because right now I’m living high and I’m ready to get things rolling on Sunday.”
Q: How do you tamper that excitement playing in front of your fans this weekend?
KELCE: “I’m as excited as everyone else is to see what I can do out there. I put the most expectations on myself more than anyone can possibly put on me so I’m putting in the work now so that Sunday I can really just go out there and let it go.”
Q: Are you a fantasy football guy? What if I told you people have identified you as a sleeper pick?
KELCE: “I don’t live in a fantasy world. I’m living the dream, but I’m not living in a fantasy world. Hopefully I won’t be a sleeper for too long.”