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What We Learned From Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt and Others on Saturday

Hunt, Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub, Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton and running back Kareem Hunt spoke to the media on Saturday


OPENING STATEMENT: "Good morning everybody. Let me start by saying that we've had a great couple of weeks here in St. Joe. We really appreciate the fans coming out, particularly today. I think we had 6,000 fans here. I know Coach Reid and the team appreciate the atmosphere the fans create for us. I thought the practice today was a good one with a lot of intensity and we just appreciate everything that the university does in hosting us here in St. Joe."

Q: It's been a long time since the Chiefs have had a young quarterback starting for them. What kind of event is this for the franchise with Patrick Mahomes getting started?

HUNT: "There's a lot of excitement here in Kansas City and really around the country about Patrick. Obviously he's a young man with a lot of skills, has a very high ceiling. He's going through the process in learning in what it means to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. That learning process will continue during the preseason and I'm sure once we get into the season. It's very exciting for the franchise from a long-term perspective. If you can develop your own quarterback who can play at the top of the league, you create an opportunity over the course of the decade to win a championship and that's what we're hoping that Patrick Mahomes does for us."

Q: How would you evaluate and judge the job that Brett Veach has done since taking over?

HUNT: "We're a little past a year in terms of Brett's tenure with us and I've mentioned this before. But going back to last summer he joined us obviously late in the year from a football standpoint, but I thought he did a really nice job of making some additions to the team to get us ready for the 2017 season. Obviously that's carried over this year. He's now had a chance to do a free agency. I thought he made some really good additions in free agency. Then I thought he did a good job of running the draft. We've got some really nice draft picks. It's good to see those young guys out here working on the defensive side. I think all of those players are going to help us as we go into 2018."

Q: Was part of the philosophy that he was trying to change some of the culture as well with some of the defensive changes and the moves in free agency?

HUNT: "One thing that we really care about as a franchise is the culture and the character of the team. That's something that's very important to Brett Veach and as he brought in players both in free agency and in the draft he wanted to make sure that each of those players was going to be a positive contributor in terms of the character of the football team. Obviously we also made some pretty significant changes on the defensive side. We said goodbye to a couple of players who have meant a lot to this franchise for a decade in Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. That's always a tough part of the business, but I thought Brett did a nice job of bringing in not only some free agents who could help us on the defensive side but bringing in some young defensive players who hopefully will have as long of a career as Tamba and Derrick did with us."

Q: Andy Reid has talked this offseason about how excited he is to see how it all unfolds and Mark Donovan talked about Andy's excitement level for this season as well. Have you seen that from Andy in your dealings with him?

HUNT: "Yeah I have. Andy is a pretty even-keeled but watching him at practice during the OTAs, seeing him here at training camp, talking to him, he's clearly excited about what this 2018 team can do. He knows he has a bunch of outstanding offensive players and he's working on plugging Patrick Mahomes into that hoping that we can take the offense to another level and go get that trophy that we've been trying to get since Super Bowl IV."

Q: How have you seen that excitement level from him?

HUNT: "I would say it's a bounce in his step. I know that's a hard thing to imagine when you're talking about Andy but truthfully he seems energized. It really goes all the way back to the offseason. I think the thought of getting to take a young quarterback and mold him – something he's had a lot of success at in his career. He knows the capability of the skill players that are around Patrick. As somebody who's really an offensive guru I think it's hard for him not to be excited. And when you have a young quarterback it's not like you're near the end of the journey, you're at the beginning and it should only get better each year."

Q: Can you tell us where you are with the NFL and the Chiefs stance on the national anthem?

HUNT: "As you guys have probably read or seen elsewhere the league and the player's union are discussing that policy right now. So there's really nothing to report on that. We're not doing anything on it and until the league tells us what the policy is there's nothing really to talk about."

Q: With that topic, have you had any discussions with players on the roster about where the conversation should go and how the two parties should make some form of a compromise?

HUNT: "We've not specifically talked about the anthem but we have talked extensively about the league's and the Chiefs' social justice initiative both in a group setting and with the players individually. I've talked to them about getting involved in the community and making a difference in causes they care about. Now that's not something new for the Chiefs. It's something that's been going in Kansas City since my dad brought the team here in 1963 and we're extremely proud of the work that our players do in the community. We've had five guys win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award over the years and I've challenged the players to get out there and make a difference. There are so many of them who have a great heart and spend a lot of time and want to get involved. I've told them we'll support you not only with human resources but also financially in causes that you care about."

Q: Can you share who some of those players who are on the roster right now that you've talked about that could potentially help resolve the conflict between both sides?

HUNT: "For clarity I wasn't suggesting that they could help resolve the conflict. I'm just saying that we have players who care about the community and care about making a difference and I think I would be betraying their confidence if I told you specifically the players that I've spoken to. I would rather them be the ones to bring it up to you."

Q: You talked about some of your guys that have been around a long time and moving in a different direction. What made this time this past year the time to make those decisions?

HUNT: "Every one of those situations is different and it's part of the National Football League, it's part of professional sports that at some point it's time for a player to step away. Sometimes a change will benefit the player and the team. Sometimes it's time for a player to retire and that's always a tough judgement call. It's a tough judgement call for the player individually. It's also a tough judgement call for the team and that's something that Brett and Andy just have to work through on an annual basis and this particular case it was the right time to move on from both Derrick and Tamba."

Q: You spoke about the excitement level and being around Andy and seeing all of that, but when you come out to camp and you see the fans and how many people were out here today what kind of sense do you get of how excited they are to see the team when the regular season starts?

HUNT: "I think it just reinforces what I've seen in the community and also as I travel around the country there's a lot of excitement about the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs. A lot of that is focused on Patrick Mahomes and what he can do in our offense. I think one of the most entertaining parts of practice today was the red zone drill with the receivers working against the defensive backs and the players were enjoying it and I think they were really feeding off the crowd that was right there behind them."

Q: What do you get most out of having training camp here when the rest of the league is going in the opposite direction?

HUNT: "You're right about that. Most teams are having training camp at their facilities. I think the Chiefs and Andy Reid really enjoy getting the players and the coaches away from the facility for three or four weeks. It's a chance for the team to bond together. The facilities here are really second-to-none. They do a great job of taking care of us, but we're close enough to Kansas City where the fans have a chance to come up and watch practice like they did today."

Q: You've mentioned that you want to bring in guys that have high character and the culture of the team. I know Kareem Hunt had some offseason issues. Do you guys have any concerns with him going forward?

HUNT: "The team is made up of a bunch of young men. They're not always going to make the best decisions, but we have a strong support system both with the coaching staff and with our player development department that works with young guys and talks to them about the situations that they want to be in. Kareem is a young man, second year in the league, obviously had a very big year on the field last year. I'm sure he learned some lessons this offseason and hopefully won't be in those kinds of situations in the future."

Q: Do you guys anticipate any kind of suspensions for him going forward?

HUNT: "I really don't but we tend not to be privy to those decisions that are made by the NFL."

Q: How important is the Mexico City game for the organization and what are some of the things you might have planned like what you did in London?

HUNT: "We're very excited to be going to Mexico City to play the Rams. When we went to London three years ago and played Detroit that was a tremendous experience for the franchise. It ended up being a great experience for the fans who made it over. I'm hopeful that we'll have a lot of fans come down to Mexico City and we're looking at opportunities to get those fans together like we did in London. Give them a chance to celebrate and really tailgate across the entire weekend."


Q: How much easier is your job when you have a guy like Anthony Sherman you can count on?

TOUB: "He is our glue. He keeps everybody together and keeps them all in line. Nobody can slip up, he watches everything. He's on them all the time. If they are late to meetings, it is not going to happen with him around. Great leader. You kind of take it for granted over these years like he is a piece of the furniture now, but he really isn't. He is really important. A crucial part to what we do on special teams."

Q: How long was the field goal that Tyreek Hill ran back during practice?

TOUB: "About 60 (yards). I think we put it on the 42 (yard line) so about a 60 yarder. We were kicking into a hard wind so I tried to take him out of range and the goal was to practice bench alert. It was almost good enough. If it was over to the left it might have been good. (Butker) has a good strong leg."

Q: Is there an opportunity for you guys to have an edge with the new rule changes on special teams?

TOUB: "There's good coaches everywhere. Everybody has good coaches and everybody is going to be ready for this. I guarantee every special teams coach watched that game with a fine-toothed comb to see how people are going to approach it and what they are going to do, different ideas. A lot of the stuff that we saw was similar to what we do. There's only so many things you can do really from that formation. It kind of restricts you a little bit but I thought it looked pretty good to me. It looked like it was exciting and a safer play."

Q: Could there be some wrinkles to the kickoff?

TOUB: "Sure, as the season goes on there might be some. I have nothing up my sleeve. I am not trying to hide anything or anything like that. I don't think there is much you can do. You're never surprised, there's always guys that will come up with something."

Q: Do you like the rules?

TOUB: "I do. I was one of the nine guys that went up there and created this thing. We are trying to make the game safer and we are trying to keep the kickoff in the game. We think we are doing the right things with the new rules."

Q: Does it affect how you teach your special teams guys at all?

TOUB: "It affects us a lot. You saw us working on it today. The kickoff is so different where you can't take a step. Guys want to take that running start. It is instinctive that they want to go. When it is live they will really want to go. You need to instill into their head that they can't. Kickoff returns, you have eight guys on the front line, you have to drop so deep. Some of those guys are not used to being in space. You are going to have a different athlete kind of on the field. Not as big an athlete because you need to block guys in space. All those factors are something that we considered all through the offseason and now into training camp."


Q: Did you watch the first preseason game and what are you telling your guys about the helmet rule? Will it be difficult to adapt?

SUTTON: "I did not see the preseason game. I can't comment on that. I think everyone understands conceptionally what we are trying to do. We all have a picture and we know our helmet can't be down and we understand the general gist of it. I think the biggest question is how it will be enforced. I think it's a tough deal because there are a lot of aspects to it. I think everyone would embrace the idea of why we are doing it. All of those players want to be out on the field. We don't want to see anyone get hurt on our team or the other team. We just want to play and be able to play fast. I think it's like most rules, you have to learn exactly how it will be enforced. I do think it's a hard rule because it's going to happen quickly. I think it's going to be challenging. We are trying to teach tackling properly, and I think the biggest thing we need to get rid of is the 'I'm going to come in there and use my helmet as a weapon.' To me, that's what we are striving for is using the helmet as protection and not a weapon. As long as our players understand that, I think we will be good."

Q: The linebacker group has been mixed around throughout camp, how is that helping the development of the guys who are the twos or threes?

SUTTON: "It gives someone a great opportunity to step in there. If you are going against the ones now, it's a really good opportunity. If you are playing with the ones you have to be at the top of your game. I think it's very beneficial. I always tell the guys when we make our final roster that you may think this is your role today, but in three weeks there are going to be two or three guys in here that are going to be playing. Someone that comes in as a backup has to be prepared to go in and play and that's an advantage right now in camp to have an opportunity like that. We are looking at all of the guys out there because we are looking to develop, and we have a lot of new guys out here that need the work too. I think it's beneficial to us."

Q: What's the relationship like between Eric Berry and Daniel Sorensen?

SUTTON: "It's really good. E.B. (Eric Berry) is a special guy in many ways and special player. He is one of those guys everyone on our team, especially on the defense, has great respect for the way he prepares, the way he plays and competes. Dan has come in and built himself a role here. He took over at the dime position and played a lot of safety last year. He has done a really good job there. Those two guys are working together and I think it's excellent."

Q: Has it been difficult to change guys' attitudes with the rule changes being implemented this season?

SUTTON: "No, I don't think the attitude change has been hard at all. Like I said earlier, I think all the players across the league understand the intent of why we have the rule. The rule is to help make the game safer and to help you as a player keep playing. I don't think there's anyone resisting the rule. I think they're taking the coaching and trying to do exactly what is asked of them. There are situations that happen that I'm not sure they will be able to do anything about because it will happen so fast. We have to just try to adjust the best way we can."


Q: What are things you've done over the offseason to improve your game?

HUNT: "I spent a lot of time running routes with quarterbacks like Josh Dobbs and some other people I know. Spent a lot of time working on my change in direction and just conditioning-wise."

Q: Is becoming even more of a receiving (running) back a big emphasis for you?

HUNT: "Yeah, definitely. I feel like I've got pretty good game running in between the tackles, I want to make sure I'm squared away receiving."

Q: How are you and Spencer Ware interacting now that he's back and you are in the backfield together?

HUNT: "Me and Spencer, we're real close. We're doing everything to help each other get better and that's pushing each other and coming out here and working every day."

Q: What has it been like for you adjusting to being one of the high-profile guys in the league?

HUNT: "To me, it's the same thing. I'm going to come out there and play football. Just do my job. You're going to have fans around everywhere, so you just have to go out there and do the best that you can."

Q: We don't get to see a lot of what he does, butwhat does Anthony Sherman mean to you?

HUNT: "Anthony Sherman is a leader. He's definitely the vocals of our group and he's just making sure everybody knows what they're doing because he knows everything the running backs have to do and he plays fullback. He's just always setting the tone and by blocking, getting everybody jumped up, hyped up. Sherman is a good guy and I love having a guy like that blocking for you. He has a sense of humor, coming in wearing a singlet, American singlet, I don't know what to do with that guy."