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Alex Smith Talks Chris Jones Playing QB, Return vs. Panthers

Smith will be back under center when the Chiefs face the Panthers on Sunday

He stood near his locker—relaxed, laughing as the questions came in regarding the ever-humorous rookie defensive lineman Chris Jones, who moments earlier was holding court and stating his case as to why he should get some snaps under center at quarterback this season.

"I'm sure Chris said that," quarterback Alex Smith said laughing. "I haven't seen him throw a football, but [Jones] does fancy himself a good athlete. Who knows?"

Obviously Jones, who did say recently that he's played quarterback in his past, was joking when speaking with the media in the locker room on Wednesday.

But for Smith—talking up the 6-foot-6, 311-pound defensive lineman and his athletic ability only meant it was back to a normal week for him—addressing reporters by his locker.

Smith talking with the media on Wednesdays is part of his usual routine—one that was altered a bit last week after the announcement had been made that for just the third time since he arrived in 2013, the starting quarterback for the Chiefs wouldn't be No. 11.

It was because of a couple of hits he took against the Indianapolis Colts and the fact that he entered the NFL's concussion protocol two different times. Although Smith passed on both occasions, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid decided to sit him and let Nick Foles start last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It was an announcement that came early in the week on Wednesday, and while Smith still spoke with the media that day, it wasn't by his locker and didn't carry the same kind of tone of answering questions about monstrous defensive linemen pretending to play quarterback.

It was more formal and there were fewer smiles that day, but the week of preparation led to an important victory for the team, which is all that Smith really cared about.

"Thankfully Nick [Foles] and the rest of the guys got the 'W' – that's what's most important," Smith explained of the team's 19-14 win over the Jaguars Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, which extended their home winning streak to 10 games.

For a team that's preached and lived by this "next man up" philosophy since Reid arrived prior to the 2013 season, the game on Sunday against the Jaguars was just Smith's turn to concede his position while his health took a front seat.

"I think it's the environment coach [Reid] has talked about from day one around here," Smith explained. "Everybody is a part of this and everyone is going to play. It truly is next man up—that's not just talk. We roll that way. Everyone mixes in and everybody plays—going all the way back to OTAs.

"Obviously I was doing everything I could to try and help in whatever way I could (last week), but I'm pumped and happy to be back and get going this week."

Smith and the Chiefs are now preparing for a tough road test this week against the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, who struggled early in the season and got off to a 1-5 start with some tough losses, but have won two straight and are feeling pretty good right now.

"You could argue this will be the best defensive line we've played or will play this season," Reid explained of the Panthers starting defensive line, consisting of the likes of Star Lotulelei, Kawaan Short, Charles Johnson and Kony Ealy. "They're a good bunch, man. They get after it – their whole front seven.

"These guys are well coached and they play hard."

It's something that's caught the eye of Smith as well, as over the last two weeks—both wins for the Panthers—the defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 12 times.

"They've got a great group up front that's physical," Smith added of the Panthers defense, which is allowing just 77 yards rushing per game—third best in the NFL.  "They play fast across the board and they all know what they're doing. They've got a lot of veteran guys on that side that've played a lot of football at a high level."

One of the guys in that group, Lotulelei, who was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, played college football at the University of Utah, the same alma mater as Smith.

Lotulelei leads the Panthers with four sacks this season.

"I know a little bit," Smith explained of the 6-foot-2, 315-pound defensive lineman who shares his alma mater. "We never played together, but going back there and watching them play (at Utah), you always keep an eye on those guys as they go on. [Lotulelei] is certainly a really, really talented and elite player inside.

"He's unique in some of his strengths inside there—especially when getting after the passer. Hopefully I only see him before and after the game."

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