In what continues to be a very busy week, including the Thanksgiving holiday, the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs were back at work Wednesday, preparing for the 9-2 Denver Broncos.
Following the team walkthrough, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid addressed the media, providing an injury update, including the playing status of Pro Bowl LB Tamba Hali.
"Tamba Hali is making progress," coach Reid said. "He went through the walkthrough, but he won't practice today. I think there's a good chance he's there (available Sunday), but we'll see. It's day-to-day. Every day he has made progress. That he went through the walkthrough, I thought was a big step. He's going to tell me he's going to play; that's what he's telling me at this moment, but again, we have to make sure he's safe to be out there. We're not going to put him in a position where he furthers the injury. But, his desire is great to play in the game."
Speaking to reporters in the Chiefs locker room Wednesday, Hali kept it simple.
"If I can't play, I'm not going to force it," Hali admitted. "I'm feeling really optimistic about being out there."
Also on Wednesday, Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson fielded questions from the media, stating what kind of confidence builder the Week 12 performance by Chiefs QB Alex Smith will serve, entering Week 13 versus Denver.
"From the QB's perspective, it definitely helps his confidence," Pederson said. "It helps the overall confidence of the offense, knowing that you can do something like that. You saw, I think, what we were talking about all year, things coming together at the right time and hopefully we can keep it going in the last month of the season."
As for the team's QB, Alex Smith stressed that any potential success against the Broncos will ultimately start with execution.
"You have to take care of the football and execute on first and second down, stay out of bad third downs, and then you have to execute on third downs as well and then in the red zone, you have to be good," Smith said. "It's a whole new challenge and you have to be on top of it."
While perfect execution is always the goal, Smith said the team's ability to respond when things don't always go its way is also crucial for success on Sunday.
"Protecting the football, certainly, it is a priority for us," Smith said. "But, you're going out there to execute and sometimes they (mistakes) happen; you have to be able to overcome it. You're never going to play a perfect game. It's not going to happen. So much of this is about overcoming adversity. We had opportunities even with the turnover a couple of weeks ago to overcome and just didn't. You're going out there to execute and score points."
Trying to prevent the Broncos from scoring points on Sunday will be the Chiefs defense, which is tied for first atop the league's QB sack list (37). Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was asked about the challenges he faces in preparing for the Broncos offense, potentially without Pro Bowl LBs Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
"Obviously, those are two really good football players," Sutton said. "We'd love to have them. If we get them, that would be awesome; they're the guys that have been playing. If they're not there, the next guy has to go. Like anything, the team that's on the field is the team. We're not going to change dramatically what we do – we can't, we have a lot of other players out there that are drilled down in certain things. We're going to continue to do the things; those guys just enhance your opportunity, because of their individual talent."
As for Justin Houston's injury, coach Reid provided the latest update on Wednesday.
"We don't know exactly what it is," coach Reid said. "We had to let the swelling go down. I'm saying we, I'm talking about our medical staff and trainers. He is literally in there now and he's in the MRI tube. They're going to make sure they cut that every which way they can cut it to make sure that they know exactly what it is."
Further updates are expected in the coming days. The Chiefs concluded Wednesday with meetings and will return to practice on Thursday, just days away from Sunday's contest at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:25 PM CT.