QB ALEX SMITH
Q: How are you feeling?
SMITH: "I'm doing good, I'm feeling great, thanks for asking."
Q: You've had a concussion at least once, just the one before?
SMITH:"Also in college."
Q: You know what it's like, do you feel like you have a concussion?
SMITH: "Nope. Listen I know you guys have kind of had fun with the 'what are we calling this technically' and I don't have an answer for you. I know this. Obviously taking a hit, especially the first one, I'm trying to get up, obviously buckle, woozy, whatever you want to call it, threw me off. I remember everything, very coherent, very clear. Went in, obviously got the cut on my ear, went in and did the full evaluation in there and felt really good. I felt good. I was in it, I wasn't foggy, I didn't have a headache, my balance wasn't an issue, I felt really good. We went through all of the protocol, I thought everybody was extremely cautious, I think because of what they saw. I think that's why you saw even when I came out there still wasn't a rush back in. It was like okay, we'll throw on the sidelines and run around a little bit and take our time with this. I think they all were cautious with it. Once again I felt good, felt like I could go. Went back out, certainly the second time around, get bounced off the turf again and same thing. I remember everything. Certainly something happened, don't know what it was, but didn't really know what to call it. Same thing though, felt good, went back in for the second go round of the evaluation and it was the same. I felt good. I remember everything, my balance, all that, nothing was off. I went through the whole 15-20 minute deal in there and felt good. Certainly I think talking with coach and the doctors and Rick [Burkholder], coming up with this decision, there is obviously the return to play [protocol] and there's all of these steps you have to go through, and you know Coach and Rick and everybody making the decision that I'm not going to go this week. There's a lot of research, obviously, that says any kind of head trauma or whatever you want to call it, time to heal is obviously important and I think precautionary, that was the decision here, the weighing factor."
Q: Were you in on the decision not to play on Sunday?
SMITH: "Ultimately that's Coach's decision, but certainly he and I have the relationship where I was very open and honest with him about everything. How I'm feeling, what I'm thinking and this was a decision that we came to together certainly. I love playing football and I love my teammates. I love everything about it. The last thing I wanted to do and I think anyone wanted to see was to come back too soon and to see something happen again. Would that have happened? Maybe, maybe not, you just don't know. I think this is everybody taking the side of caution and trying to make the best decision. It's not black and white. There's no blood test to go in and say 'hey take your temperature you have a concussion,' that's not how this works. It's just not that easy. I think everybody is just trying to weigh everything in and make the best decision and I think we've done that."
Q: Did you see your own doctor? What did they say?
SMITH: "I didn't see my own doctor, you see an independent guy here. The biggest thing is we sent the impact test results off to Dr. Collins in Pittsburgh, he's kind of the expert on all of that and Rick [Burkholder] has a good relationship with him. That was the biggest thing. He reviewed the impact test results that I took the next day and same thing, nothing showed up there. I haven't had any symptoms. I met with the independent neurologist already as well and kind of the same thing. I think everybody is trying to have their input and come to the best decision."
Q: You're a husband, you're a father, how do you square away the way it looked on the second one?
SMITH: "I think for me, for one I'm not getting caught up in what we're calling this. By the NFL and the doctors, by their terms of it, I passed everything, after the second one even. Was it nothing? We're not saying that. I'm not. Certainly I watched the film and there are a few seconds of laying there. I've been playing a long time, I have three little kids, you only get one brain as far as I know. The last thing that I wanted and you don't know if it's going to happen and I feel great, but the last thing I wanted was to go out there and what if something happens again and then all of a sudden you're asking different questions probably at that point. I'm not ready for that and I don't want to be thinking about any of that and I think all the research has said even an extra week is a big deal when it comes to recovering from stuff like this."
Q: When something like this happens, and like you said you do have a family to worry about, but also have to lead these guys and show them that you're tough. How do you walk that balance?
SMITH: "I don't think just for me, I think everybody walks that line now with all the stuff that's coming out and everybody learning more and nobody wants to sacrifice that. Nobody is talking about going out and doing anything dumb. Like you said, obviously every football player takes pride in being accountable, being tough, being able to play through things, but there's a fine line there. I think that also goes into what BJ [Kissel] asked earlier as far as the return to play, what if it's one of these weeks where all of sudden we're splitting reps and you wait and see on these symptoms, that's kind of the protocol. You practice and you wait and see on these symptoms and then eventually you have to have contact and then you wait and see. It's one of these things that drags out to Friday or Saturday. Are you doing the team a favor? Are you doing Nick [Foles] a favor, the QB room? I think this decision was clean."
Q: It sounds like Cam Newton has just about had it. He's made a lot of comments about getting cheap shots. You've been in the league a long time. We used to joke that quarterbacks would just get touched and would draw flags. We saw your wife's tweets. You're not drawing flags or fines. Has it gotten worse in your career? Are they letting quarterbacks get hurt more?
SMITH: "I've played a long time, I haven't noticed any trends I guess. Certainly things have changed in the pocket. There is a strike zone in the pocket that's very clear. Can't hit QB's low, can't hit them high. When you're out running with the ball you're a football player. For me I think both situations, the slide is a tool to help protect yourself. I do look back and certainly think the first slide was late. Those are tough. I think those are bang-bang plays and I do think if anything it's the one I'm kicking myself over. To put myself in that situation where you're vulnerable, you're not protected because I did slide late. I did feel like on the second one, and this is my opinion, these are fast plays and refs have a hard time, felt like I did get down early enough to protect myself, to afford myself that protection. It happens, nobody's perfect, the games are fast. I think those guys are trying to do the best they can. To go back to your question, no I haven't noticed any trends as far as less protection."
Q: After you guys did make the decision that you weren't going to go back in on Sunday, what was your message to Nick [Foles]?
SMITH: "I think the same thing. First off Nick [Foles] is the type of guy, off the bat, he's seeing how I'm doing, checking on me. For me it's just being honest. Same thing, I'm just being open and honest with all of this stuff. Certainly once that decision was made, yeah your role changes this week. I'm doing whatever I can to help this team, to help Nick, to help Tyler [Bray] get ready, no different than those guys were doing."
Q: I don't recall your wife having weighed in on your career before this, what was your reaction to it?
SMITH: "I laughed about that stuff. It's no different for me. When I watch good friends play it's almost worse when you're watching because you have zero impact, you have zero hand in what's going on. When I'm playing I don't have that because I'm involved in it. I have some kind of say in what's going on. I think when you have close family and friends that are watching they have a lot of emotions and they deal with it just the same. Certainly as a wife, she's watched a lot of football, she's seen me play a lot. I have fun with it. Certainly things have changed a lot with Twitter and Instagram and all this. I don't think it was that big of a deal. I laugh at it with her. Maybe looking back, her emotions got to her a little bit, but I can't fault her."
Q:Is there a part of you that wonders if that second hit was dirty?
SMITH:"I don't know about that, I'm not saying that. Certainly I do think that when you're sliding, you know it's one thing if you are sliding and there is some contact. That one, the only part of me that did get hit was my head. And to get bounced like that, I don't know if you want to call it unlucky. I'm not sure. I'm not in his head. Certainly I get it and I respect the aspect that you only get a few chances to take a shot on a quarterback -- I realize that. I think every defense is the same and all defenders are the same. When you do get a shot, it's the NFL and it's a starting quarterback. If you get a chance, you take it -- you take it. That's part of the game."
Q:You're basically here because you got a concussion. Is that experience informing? Does that impact how you're handling this?
SMITH:"Yes and no. I thought the same thing then. This is all a symptom-based deal. There's a bunch of tests that go on. It was a very different situation there. When I went through that, my eyes were a big deal as far as vision. There were things there and symptoms that were going on that obviously triggered that. You get put in protocol and it obviously led to that situation. It's the same thing here in a sense but I don't have any of those symptoms or issues. You go through it and attack it the same way. We get caught up in the semantics of what we're calling it. I'm not saying it was something. I've got little kids, I've got a future and I'm not trying to be dumb with anything. At the same time, I'm a football player, I feel good and I'll practice this week. Everybody came together, made this decision and we'll go with it."
Q:Due to your past, are guys incentivized at all to try and avoid that concussion protocol?
SMITH:"I don't know. No. I don't think it'd be any different than any other injury. I don't think it'd be any different than a sprained ankle. If you feel like you can play, and you want to go out and play, you'll go out and play. There's a lot of caution here with head injuries, it's gotten a lot of attention and we're finding out more and more. You can fix ankles, knees and things like that. But there's no fixing brain injuries long-term. That would be the difference and I think that's something everyone takes into account."
QB NICK FOLES
Q:After getting a full week of practice this week, how's that going to benefit you on Sunday?
FOLES:"It'll be great. Going through the walk through was nice and we're about to go out for practice. I've been going through a lot of mental reps. I get the mental reps every practice. This will be the first physical reps. It's good to be practicing, out there with the guys, running through the game plan and seeing different looks."
Q:You've been here a while now. Where are you with this offense?
FOLES:"It's one of those things where I feel great in this offense. I've always liked playing for Coach Reid and this offense. From week to week, you change things up. We're right at the beginning of our week, we're a few days in and I feel good about where I'm at."
Q:When you saw what happened to Alex [Smith], what was your initial reaction?
FOLES:"The only thing I was thinking about was hoping he was alright and he's okay. You play this game and you see something like that -- you never want to see it. He's a guy that I'm with every day, he's a guy that has been a really good friend of mine and that's really all I was thinking at that point."
Q:How do you square away the fact that you're playing a violent sport when you're in the moment?
FOLES:"You can't think about that or have that fear. Get rid of it, put it somewhere else and go out and play. You're playing for someone else out there. You're playing for the guys next to you, your family and your loved ones. When you play for something like that, you go out and play and you put away the fear."
Q:What do you remember about the last time you played against the Jaguars?
FOLES:"It was a season-opener a couple years ago. I remember them being a real talented team. They're a good team with some real talented players. This is a big prep week -- especially for me. This is my first playing time in a little while. Each and every day I look at them. The thing I'm impressed about most is their ability to fly around and the talent they have. I'm focused on their defense. We have to go out, have a great week of practice, and get ready for them."
Q:How much have your fundamentals changed since you got here and started working with Coach [Andy] Reid again?
FOLES:"He's big on that. Every day working with him, Coach [Matt] Nagy, getting to watch Alex [Smith] and Tyler [Bray] -- they improve every single day with our routine. From when I got here until now, I think they've improved a lot."
Q:Specifically with your footwork -- where is it at?
FOLES:"Footwork, rhythm and timing. This offense has a rhythm and timing with the footwork, so I feel more comfortable."
Q:What's the biggest reason for your improvement over the past two months?
FOLES:"Like I said, we have a routine that we do every week as quarterbacks. We continue to work on the fundamentals and be very detailed with it. I like watching the other quarterbacks and picking up on how they do things."
Q:How are you getting accustomed to the changes in the playbook from your time here?
FOLES:"I feel great being here -- however long it's been. It's happened so fast. I feel great about the playbook and where we're at as a team and where I'm at understanding it."