The Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) have begun preparations for Sunday’s tilt with the Oakland Raiders (4-11), which takes place Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium (kickoff is set for 3:25 pm CT).
The Chiefs can win a third-straight AFC West division title and claim the AFC’s top overall seed with a victory.
With that said, here are five things that stood out from Andy Reid’s Wednesday press conference:
1. Reid spoke about receiver Sammy Watkins, who hasn’t appeared in a game since the Week 11 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams because of a foot injury.
“Sammy (Watkins) will not practice today. Sammy had been in a cast-boot just as a preventative measure—all part of the recovery. Doctors just wanted to settle it down. They felt the best way to do that was put him in a cast. He’s out of the cast moving around and just going through the rehab process of getting back. Again, he’s not going to practice today but he is making progress.”
Watkins has 40 receptions for 519 yards with three touchdowns this season.
2. Reid spoke about veteran safety Eric Berry, who played 69 snaps for the Chiefs’ defense against the Seahawks last Sunday but was limited as he’s still working his way back after missing so much time. Reid was asked if it was a tough decision to hold to the “pitch count” even when the game is close.
“I don’t think twice about that. You got to go off of his feel. He hasn’t played in two years, I’m aware of that. I don’t want to take any steps backward and neither does he. We understand that and with the extended drives that we had the snaps came up. He had every intention of going into the fourth quarter but there was only so many snaps he can take right now. He’s easing back into it. I have full trust in him, it’s not a matter of that. If he could have gone a half, we would have gone a half.”
Berry finished Sunday’s game with five tackles, and he ultimately missed just 11 snaps as the 69 snaps he played were out of a total of 80 available for the defense.
3. Reid was asked what he needs to see from offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who began his 21-day practice window on Wednesday to return from injured reserve, to feel comfortable when the time comes for him to be activated.
“It’s just a matter of getting in and getting caught up with the speed of the game. We practice fast, so you get an idea of it. getting himself back into as much football shape as you can get into this time of the year. Then testing against pro athletes, not the trainers. He’s going against big bodies and guys that are quick and how does it feel there?”
Duvernay-Tardif was originally injured against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 with a fractured fibula.
4. Reid was asked what’s behind Travis Kelce having a career year?
“I think he’s got a great relationship with the quarterback, besides being the great player that he is. He is a phenomenal route runner and he’s got a great feel for the game. I think we’ve all seen him grow as a person and as a player. He’s playing within himself.”
Kelce, who was named a Pro Bowler for the fourth-straight season earlier this month, is just 54 yards shy of passing the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski’s NFL record for yards receiving in a season by a tight end (1,327, 2011).
5. Reid was asked about the fact that everything they want to accomplish is still within their grasp and their control.
“I think it’s great to be able to play here at home. I love playing in Arrowhead. Our fans are phenomenal. I know they will pack up in here cheering us on. My message to the team is to go play—let your personalities show and go play. I think that is the most important thing. If you get caught up in everything, that becomes an issue and then you’re not yourself. When you focus in on the game plan, go through the process of getting ready and then you’re confident and you go play to the best of your ability. You allow yourself to do that by preparation.”
Despite back-to-back losses to the Chargers and Seahawks over the past two weeks, the Chiefs can still earn the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed with a win on Sunday, which means the road to the Super Bowl would still run through Arrowhead Stadium.