Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Q: One week of OTAs in the books – how did it go so far?
MAHOMES: “Yeah we’re going well. We’re really just out here competing. That’s really all you can ask for is get out here and be able to get out on the field and compete. I feel offense and defense have really brought it so far and hopefully we can keep it going as we go.”
Q: Are there things that you’re working on specifically in terms of improvement this time of year?
MAHOMES: “Yeah you want to be real crisp in and out of the huddle at first. You really want to get in and out of the huddle, see what you need to see in order to have success on the field. I’m really working on that as always as well as working on your footwork and stuff like that and being on time and making plays.”
Q: You’ve grown a lot in that you’re more experienced now that you’re in your second year.
MAHOMES: “Yeah I mean from year one to year two first off just calling the play in the huddle. I was talking about it earlier, you can focus on more things now that you’re comfortable calling the play. Now that I’m comfortable calling the play I can focus on snap count, I can focus on the man zone IDs and focus on what makes this offense so good. So for me being in year two I feel a lot more comfortable with that.”
Q: Coach says he’s thrown a lot at you?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, him, Eric Bieniemy and Mike Kafka have really tried to throw a lot at the whole offense. If you want to make mistakes you make them now. You don’t want to make those mistakes in the game so we throw a lot now so when we get to the game it’s a lot easier.”
Q: Anything in particular that you want to improve on now until the Chargers?
MAHOMES: “Yeah you want to get better in every single facet in the game. You really want to make sure like I said that you can get in and out of the huddle crisp, you can get to the line and you have enough common play call that you can use your cadence. You want to be able to move the ball, be efficient, know the situation of what you’re really going for. So for me, all those things I try to work on every single day whether that’s on the field or in the film room.”
Q: Any of the players or yourself have conversation about the National Anthem policy?
MAHOMES: “No, not yet. I mean it just happened yesterday so for me I haven’t really gotten into it.”
Q: How relieved were you on Friday that it was a strike that you threw at Kauffman Stadium?
MAHOMES: “I mean I don’t know if it was a strike, it was a little inside. But I mean I may have gotten a swing and a miss.”
Q: Between the K and going out to the speedway and some other events, you’ve been out a lot in Kansas City – is that something that’s important to you to be out in the community?
MAHOMES: “Yeah definitely, I mean the fans come out every single week and show passion and love for us and our team and what we are doing here. So for me I want to be back in the community, giving back and just being a part of it to show the same love and passion to them.”
Q: Where are you in terms of knowing the playbook and do you consider yourself a master of it now?
MAHOMES: “I wouldn’t say master. This playbook is very complex, it’s something that you have to work on every single year. You look at the guys that are veterans in this league and they’re still trying to learn more. So as a quarterback and as a football player you want to learn more every single year so I feel like I’ll never necessarily be a master of the playbook but I’ll try to get better and learn more and more about football every single year.”
Q: Last year you had Alex (Smith) to talk to – this year who do you go to?
MAHOMES: “We have a great quarterback room. We have Chad Henne and Matt McGloin and Chase (Litton) just came in, and we all talk to each other about what we’re seeing and I talk to them about what I’m seeing and just try to get a good answer so when we go to the field we can play fast and have success.”
Q: Have you given the coaches feedback?
MAHOMES: “Definitely we have open conversation between me and Coach Reid, Eric Bieniemy and Mike Kafka. We really talk and try to see, they see what I like and I tell them what I like and if we both like something we try to put that in. If there’s something that one of us is disagreeing on then we don’t think we’ll work then we try to get out here and we see about it and if it works we’ll keep it in and if not we’ll throw it away and hold off on it.”
Q: From last year to now how much more comfortable are you using your voice?
MAHOMES: “I feel a lot more comfortable. I guess you can say just being able to go in the huddle and just say what I need to say for us to have success, it helps out that my teammates have let me become more of a vocal leader on the team. When you have a team and you have guys like Eric Berry and Justin Houston and then on the offense Travis Kelce and all those guys, I mean we have guys that want to get better every single day. For us it’s not about whose saying it but who’s trying to make the team the best in that situation.”
Q: Do you feel you have the ability to speak now more so than as a rookie?
*MAHOMES: *“Yeah I think that’s the same for every rookie though. As a rookie you come in and work hard and try to keep your head down and try to prove to the team that you’re trying to do what’s best for the team and as you gain some of that respect as you go further into your career you start talking more and people can really respect what you’re saying because it’s in the best interest of the team.”
Q: What’s that dynamic like with Eric Bieniemy now that he’s elevated?
*MAHOMES: *“I always had a good relationship with Eric Bieniemy now I just get to see him more often. He brings a certain detail to the offense that I think that we really need, and it’s something that he stays detailed and he stays on you and he makes sure you’re doing the right things and I feel like it’ll help me a ton as this year goes along.”
Q: Do you know which teammates started calling you Patty Cakes and how bad do you want to strangle them?
MAHOMES: “I mean I don’t want to strangle them it’s not bad to me at all but I think (Travis) Kelce started it – of course. I told him though, it was actually my first nickname that I ever had when I was seven or eight years old. One of my friends called me Patty Cakes and I haven’t heard it since then but I’ll try to roll with it.”
Q: Seems like they’re trying to incorporate that into interviews, is that on purpose?
MAHOMES: “Who knows. You never know with those guys, with (Travis) Kelce, Tyreek (Hill) and Kareem (Hunt) they’re always joking around.”
Q: How much more comfortable have you gotten under center?
MAHOMES: “I think way more comfortable. Mitch Morse said it on the first day of OTAs, it’s night and day from whenever you first got here until now. I don’t actually have to worry about catching the snap and I can just be under center and take it and worry about other things on the field.”
Q: Early impressions about Sammy Watkins?
MAHOMES: “The first day was crazy. I think you all may have seen it on Twitter, but the first pass in OTAs he was running a go route and caught it in one hand. And then later on in the practice I thought I overthrew him and I thought I threw an interception, but I just saw a hand come out of nowhere and he brought it down. So he’s someone that’s going to help this offense tremendously and someone who works hard and you really respect guys that have that much talent but really get after it every single day.”
Safety Eric Berry
*Q: *How are you doing?
*BERRY: *“Good, good. A lot better.”
Q: A lot of changes on the defense – what are your thoughts?
BERRY: “Just keep working, we’re here in OTAs. We’ve got a good jump on the game plan and the installs. So everyone has been brought here so we’re just going to keep building.”
Q: What’s your interaction been so far with Kendall Fuller who is going to play a bigger role this year?
BERRY: “It’s been good. He’s come to work. He’s dedicated to the sport. Anytime you got anybody dedicated to the game, it’s going to be good to work with him. I feel that way about him.”
Q: What did you draw from how Derrick Johnson came back from his Achilles?
BERRY: “Just put in work. Injuries are injuries but how you bounce back from them. He stuck to it, endured the process and came back just fine. I’m not too concerned with it, I’m just going to stick to the process and make sure I give 100 percent every day and conquer each day one day at a time and just come back like I’m supposed to.”
Q: Do you feel a sense of responsibility since you’ve been here so long to help integrate the new guys in learning the system?
BERRY: “Yeah I’m dedicated. I feel like I’m here, this is Kansas City, I play for Kansas City, I’m dedicated to this team and if you’re a part of this team I’m dedicated to you. That’s just how I roll.”
Q: Coming back from injury, is that part of the motivation behind coming up early to OTAs?
*BERRY: *“I just want to be the best team that we can be. That’s more of my focus. I’ve dealt with injuries before, so that’s not really my concern. I’m not overlooking it, I’m just putting in my work. I know my teammates are dependent on me and I’m dependent on them. It’s more of an accountability thing just to handle my business and make sure I’m ready to go just to make sure we can all do what we came here to do.”
Q: Is that in retrospect looking back to last year or what’s the difference?
BERRY: “I just didn’t play last year. Either way I wouldn’t of came last year, anyway I don’t regret not coming last year. But like I said, I’m just here and I’m dedicated to my team. Even when I wasn’t there I’m dedicated to my team and dedicated to this sport. It’s just the fact that we’re here, now and let’s get a good start on the game plan and move forward.”
Q: Is it a little more difficult missing last year now given it was Alex (Smith’s) last shot at this?
*BERRY: *“Yeah it was tough but at the end of the day, he’s good. I know he’s going to be straight. And anybody else who’s not here, I know they’re good and I know they’re working hard. Just going to keep pushing forward.”
Q: How would you describe what was going on in your heart and mind during the season?
BERRY: “Just frustration because I’m a doer, I never really like sitting back and watching. But I was forced to watch and I just found ways to get involved and help my team. I think that’s what carried over to this year just seeing that you can make an impact even when you’re not playing. You can still be in-tune to the game plan and in-tune to the situations that are happening. I have a lot of experience now, this is my ninth year. There’s a lot of guys that are younger than me that can learn from what I know so even with the young guys, everything that I know I just keep spilling in knowledge to them because I know it’s going to help us as a team.”
Q: Were you in film rooms more than normal for a guy that was out for a year?
BERRY: “I’m not sure, I was just in there but I’m not really sure about everybody else.”
Q: You talk about the experience for the young guys – all this youth and excitement, is there something that just makes everyone smile more coming out to these hard workouts?
BERRY: “Yeah I mean it’s just work. When you talk about workouts, it’s just work. Anytime it’s work you’re going to get better. Nobody really dreads coming into the building or coming out onto the field. We know we’re going to put in the work and put in the time. But just seeing the faces and seeing the enthusiasm, some days you might not be feeling it but if you look across the ball and see (Patrick Mahomes) or see (Kareem Hunt) or see (Tyreek Hill), they got a lot of energy and they’re coming in and they’re bringing it and vice versa. If we are bringing it and they’re not really up to it at the moment, we just feed off each other and just push through it.”
Q: Helmet to helmet potentially being an ejection – first does that require any sort of adjustment from you has a defensive back and second what are the results from most of those helmet-to-helmet hits is it just instincts?
BERRY: “It’s a little bit of everything you could say. It’s how you were taught to tackle, it depends on if you’re just aware of making a change and a few other things but it could be harder for other people and easier for other people. But that’s with anything, it’s just the fact that head-to-head collision can get you in trouble. It’s definitely an emphasis but it’s possible.”
Q: From last year to this year – what difference have you seen from Patrick Mahomes and being in those practices with the ones?
BERRY: “Just that he’s on the field, he really hasn’t changed much. He’s always been confident. From the time I’ve known him, he’s been confident. He’s been sure of himself and he’s came out and made plays, so nothing’s really changed just now he’s with the ones.”
Q: How eager are you to see the improvement he makes from year one to year two?
BERRY: “I’m always excited. He’s hungry, he’s dedicated so we’ll see.”
Q: Drafted a few defensive backs with Armani (Watts) and Tremon (Smith) – what has been your first impressions of those guys?
*BERRY: *“I like them. If they’re here, I know they can play. I know that they have talent and I’ve seen Armani (Watts) play back at Texas A&M because they played against Tennessee and I was actually at the game so I’m very excited about that. And right now we just want to win.”
Q: What was it like watching your brothers trying to break into the league this year?
BERRY: “It was cool. It was real cool. I’m glad Elliott (Berry) got a shot, he’s got a pretty good plan right now and I’m excited to see how it works out. Evan (Berry) has always wanted to play offense so he’s got a chance to play offense up there in Cleveland and it’s something that we talked about when we were little. All just playing in the NFL and having an opportunity to do so. We’re just going to keep pushing it and keep seeing where we can take the Berry name.”
Linebacker Justin Houston
Q: What are your thoughts on the changes made defensively this offseason?
HOUSTON: “I’m here to play football. My opinions and feeling don’t matter. It is neither here nor there.”
Q: When you see guys like Hunter Henry go down with injury, do you consider not coming to the voluntary OTAs?
HOUSTON: “Me personally, I feel like what is meant to be will be. If I am meant to get hurt, it is going to happen regardless of if you are here or there. What is meant to be will happen regardless of the circumstance or where you are at.”
Q: How do you make your decision to come to OTAs?
HOUSTON: “I just go with the flow. I talk to my big man right there (Coach Reid) and we communicate and stay on the same page.”
Q: Where are you health-wise?
HOUSTON: “I am in great health. I finished the season with no injuries last year. I was able to just focus on myself and not an injury, so that was a plus.”
Q: How good is it to have Eric Berry back?
HOUSTON: “That’s not surprising, I knew he was coming back. I just pray we both stay healthy. It has been awhile since we both had a healthy, complete season. That’s what I would like to see from both of us, both of us be healthy all year.”
Q: Is it exciting have him here at OTAs?
HOUSTON: “We have a bigger goal in mind, so we don’t get too excited about this right here. This is part of the phase. It is something we have to go through to help build to where we want to go.”
Q: You were playing on the other side of the defense, are you the type of guy that plays wherever you are told?
HOUSTON: “I want to be able to attack the weakest link. Every team is different. Everybody’s left tackle isn’t All-Pro and everybody’s right tackle isn’t All-Pro. Wherever the weakest link, whether it is the guard, center or even tackles, I want to be on the weakest link.”
Q: What it like working with new Outside Linebackers Coach Mike Smith?
HOUSTON: “I think it is great just to have an outside linebackers coach. There’s so much we get to do now just focusing on ourselves and the little things we need to work on. I think last year, we had a lot going on. You have to coach a lot of guys inside and out. It is hard to do that in the little bit of time you have. Now you have a separate coach, we can just focus on one thing, that’s us.”
Q: What are some things you are doing differently to stay healthy?
HOUSTON: “I’m doing nothing different. If you watch all my injuries, they are contact. That is football. That is the name of the game. It happens. It’s not like I was just running and tore my ACL. I got hit. And the years before that, when I dislocated my elbow, I got hit and dislocated my elbow. It is football. Injuries happen. You can’t prevent those injuries. They are contact injuries, there is nothing you can do to prevent those.”
Q: What do you think of Breeland Speaks?
HOUSTON: “I think he is very smart. He is a defensive end and to come in and learn outside linebacker, a lot of guys in the NFL struggle switching from a defensive end to an outside linebacker. But he is picking up the defense fine, he has looked good in coverage. I think he is going to help us a lot.”
Running Back Kareem Hunt
Q: Coach Reid said he wants to get you more involved in the pass game, do you like that part of the game?
HUNT: “Definitely, I like that part. It gives me the opportunity to get the ball in open space and make people miss.”
Q: What is the toughest part about the passing game for a running back coming into the NFL?
HUNT: “The toughest part is just making the play and being able to focus in and lock in on the ball and just make something happen after.”
Q: Are there things you are working on specifically in that part of your game?
HUNT: “I’m just working on my game all around. Catching the ball more and running a lot more routes.”
Q: What has it been like going through this portion of the offseason with Patrick Mahomes?
HUNT: “Me and Patrick have a great bond. I feel like he is going to do great. He definitely already has a leader role and he is just able to go out there and make big plays. I am excited to see him get out there.”
Q: What drives you as a player?
HUNT: “Definitely just getting a ring. We came up short in the playoffs again and I am just trying to go out there and do whatever I can to get better to help the team get past that.”
Q: How have you seen Mahomes take on that leadership role?
HUNT: “He is just going in there with confidence, talking with everybody, making the calls and staying on top of things. You can see he really wants to win and be a good quarterback.”
Q: How has it been off the field with people being able to recognize you a lot more?
HUNT: “Pretty much everywhere I go, a lot of people know me. Everybody wants pictures and all that stuff, you just have to remain humble.”
Q: How do you do that?
HUNT: “Just be me. I’m not going to change. I am the same person since I got here day one.”
Q: How does it feel hearing Todd Gurley say you are the best young running back?
HUNT: “It makes me feel real good. But it is just words. I need to go out there and keep proving myself. I really appreciate him saying that about me and I know what a great running back he is and all the things he can do. I definitely respect him a lot.”
Q: How nice is it just preparing for football after preparing for the Draft and combine last year?
HUNT: “You don’t have to stress about what team you are going to, interviews like 12 times a day. You just have to go out there and play football now and just come back and try to make yourself better than you were last year.”