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What We Learned from Chiefs Players on Monday

Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Derrick Johnson, Chris Jones, Ron Parker, Mitch Schwartz, Dustin Colquitt and Charcandrick West spoke to the media ahead of offseason workouts


Q:What's this training program that you did out in Hawaii?

SMITH:"Pretty much chasing kids. I think you just get older, and you get better and better at tailoring workouts, and trying new things and keep continuing that, right? Now, with the new CBA, we have such a long break. When I first got into this league, the reporting day was like March 8th, and you were back here and going. You have such a long time, and I think as a player you have to take a lot of initiative to set up your own thing. Certainly, we get a lot from our strength staff here, but for me, it was just trying to take advantage of the time and just focus in, for me, training wise on how I can get better? What can I do? What am I not doing? To try and really analyze all that. I feel really good about this offseason. I feel like I got a ton of really good work in. It was a good mix of family time, and for me, trying to get better."

Q:Anything new or different for you in that regard?

SMITH:"There's always stuff that's new, especially in the quarterback world. I think more and more come in. Forever, you've trained like a football player, and you probably get trained like a linebacker through high school, college and pros. I think there's more and more coming in. As far as throwing mechanics, what are some exercises and training that will transfer there and really doing some more of that stuff in addition – some more of the football specific things. Just balancing those out."

Q:What does that entail?

SMITH:"Year round, you're not just going to be sitting under a squat rack. You know, for me, it's a time where I can take a load off, to do different stuff, to try and stay explosive and do different things. That's part of it. That's probably certainly on the fun side. Just mixing things up and new experiences. It's certainly a balance of all that."

Q:Have you analyzed what went wrong with the offense in the Pittsburgh game?

SMITH:"I think I dealt with that days after the game. I think as you get away from it and you get removed, I think you reflect on everything. You reflect on the entire season. It's just not that last game. I really had time to do that, and you're watching the film and going through the what-ifs those days after. You really are kind of analyzing everything. For me, you're trying to look at the bigger picture – where do I need to get better? Where do I need to improve? How can I do that? Attack those things, right? Like I said, we have this big chunk of time on our own, how can I take advantage of it? Really being away, I know the coaches do their whole deal, right? They do their whole process of breaking down the season, and the schemes, and each concept and all that. I think it's healthy to kind of get away. Like I said, for me, to kind of focus on myself and turn my attention towards that. Obviously, when you get back, they're just a progression, right? It starts with the quarterbacks and the receivers, and then the whole offense and then, before you know it, we're practicing against each other. So, that's kind of what I set that time aside for."

Q:What do you think you need to do to get better at in the offense?

SMITH:"Once again for me, not necessarily in the offense, what could I do better as a quarterback? Where can I get better? Where can I get stronger? You can always get better throwing the football. For me, it was implementing a program. How can I get better throwing the football? I probably started throwing sooner than I ever have in the offseason. For me, as you get older, how could I keep my explosiveness? How could I keep my speed? Footwork, all that, and I think training for that, you know? I think you try to combat aging. Now that you get older, your mindset changes, right? You kind of continue to combat that, stay explosive. I think everything is trying to pull you in the opposite direction."

Q:What, if anything, have the coaches told you about possibly drafting a quarterback in the earlier rounds?

SMITH:"Honestly, no different than any year. This time of year, QBs are coming in just like every other position. We bring visits in for everybody, and that's no different than last year and the guys the years before that. To be honest, it's a pretty free, open conversation. We talk to the QBs. 'Hey, who do you like? How's this guy? How's that guy?' You know? And kind of have open conversation. They're almost like us a little bit, right? This is a personnel decision, and the personnel department is going to make that decision. It's out of our hands, so in a sense, any anxiety you might have over it is pointless to be honest. Like I said, it's normal every year, right? They're going to bring guys in every single here. This is the NFL. I've been playing long enough. You pretty quickly realize we have three guys right now in the quarterback room, right? We're a guy short. Someone's coming in. So, it's no different than any year. We've drafted guys. It's out of our control and it really has no bearing on me – right? On my focus, and what I should be focused on and what I'm working toward – I control that – you know? Worrying about it or dwelling on anything else is unproductive."


Q:Are you still doing some of the 'offseason mentoring' with the wide receivers? Who did you have up with you this offseason?

MACLIN:"Tyreek [Hill] was up here, Chris [Conley] was here, D-Rob [Demarcus Robinson] a little bit, Stretch [Seantavius Jones] was here and Albert [Wilson] was here too, so we were able to spend some time together and get to know each other a little better."

Q:What's the collective goal for the receivers this year?

MACLIN:"The same thing as it always is. Continue to get better each and every day, and to be reliable. We can do what we're asked to do. Our job is to go out and do that to the best of our ability. Whatever the case may be, we're all for it."

Q:Have you and Alex Smith been able to dig into what some of the communication issues were last season with the two of you?

MACLIN:"The most important thing is that we continue to communicate with each other. Last year like I said, for myself, was a very odd season. You learn from it. You learn from it as a football player and you learn from it as a man. Life goes on. I'm excited about being healthy. I'm excited about going out and having the opportunity to play football again. And I'm excited about this team. We were so close [last season]. That's one goal we have as a team this year. If we don't get that, then we've failed. Our goal is to win a Super Bowl, and it's that simple."


Q:Do you still plan to be on track recovery-wise, and ready to go for training camp?

JOHNSON:"Yup. I'm still on track. My Achilles feels similar to last time. Unfortunately, hurting it last time, I know the recovery process, so mentally, that part has been easier. It's been a little different without Mike DeVito day-in and day-out going through the same injury. I'm at a good spot in it now. I'm at the last couple months of it, so I'm at a good place with it."

Q:Is this recovery much different as opposed to the other one?

JOHNSON:"Not much difference in it. It was harder mentally at the beginning because you don't do much. Having Mike DeVito the last time, I had someone to talk to every single time who had gone through the same injury with me. The good part about it is, it wasn't trial and error. I know exactly what to do. I know how to be patient with it when something challenges me. If it's a certain exercise, that's okay. I know it's going to get better in about a week or two. Mentally, it was much better this time."

Q:Does playing in a season-opener grab your attention more than other potential options?

JOHNSON:"Yeah. Knowing that in the AFC, New England has always been at the top, if not first. If that does happen, that would be a good test for us. At the end of the day, regardless if the schedule is harder or not as hard, you've got to beat everybody if you want to win it all. You've got to be tested. What better way to get tested than by the returning Super Bowl Champions."


Q:How do you feel health and physicality wise?

JONES:"For myself, I feel good. I look good. You all might disagree, but I think I look pretty good. I've lost a little weight, so I feel amazing."

Q:How do you look at the defensive line with all of the transition?

JONES:"I feel like we're going to be great. We have Bennie Logan coming in. I worked offseason workouts with him at Pete Jenkins, so I've known the guy over the past year or two. We have Jaye Howard coming back, Allen Bailey and Nacho [Rakeem Nunez-Roches], who's full of excitement. So, I think we're going to be great."

Q:Do you miss Dontari Poe?

JONES:"Yeah, I miss [Dontari] Poe. When I came in, Poe welcomed me in with open arms. I used to watch what he ate. I used to eat what he did. He ate four eggs, oatmeal, cut up half a banana and put it in the oatmeal. I didn't like it, but I still ate it because Poe ate it. It was crazy man. Britt [Reid] and I talked about it the other day. I used to be his shadow."


Q:Was there a little bit of an emptiness that you weren't able to go further in the playoffs last year since you guys have put so much into that?

PARKER:"I think the way that we look at it is every year you take a step up. I think with that being said and last season winning the division, I think that's a step for us because that was a goal we've been after for the last couple years. With us accomplishing that goal last year, I think we just take another step up. So, I think everybody is going to approach last season and this season as we want to get better and of course feed off that last loss we had and go from there."

Q:Was there a time even last year where you thought Eric Berry was going to have to move on?

PARKER:"That never crossed my mind with Eric [Berry] leaving. He does so much for the organization, his teammates love him and the coaches. I never thought about it. I knew from the whole time that we'd probably have EB back because he means a lot to the program."

Q:As a defense, what do you need to do to take the next step?

PARKER:"In order to take the next step as a defense, we just have to create more turnovers. We rank pretty high in a lot of categories in defense, so it's not a whole lot that we can really do other than try to win more games for us on defense and get more turnovers. With that being said, every year you want to take a step up in turnovers, so we want to try and create more turnovers next year."


Q: First time in your career that you've ended with a playoff loss, what does that do to your offseason?

SCHWARTZ: "Well, it's a little shorter offseason than I'm used to. Yeah I mean it's not a good feeling coming off the loss. We were really fortunate to have a great regular season and get the bye and I think that was one of the goals for us was to get to that point and just came up a little short in that game. I think the middle of the game, everything except the first and last drive, the offense didn't really do too much. I thought our defense did a great job – held them to field goals all game and that's an explosive offense so to do that was awesome. In a small way, the epitome of the season, our offense had some good drives but kind of need more consistency throughout and obviously this is the time of year that the coaches have gone back the last three months and gone through everything and as the weeks go along we'll figure out what we need to fine tune and get better at, things that we were good at that we need to keep up for this year. I'm anxious to see what the full analysis is."

Q: Going back to after the draft and the first season, what were the biggest adjustments that you had to make between college and the NFL?

SCHWARTZ: "Really the quality of guy that you face is the biggest. In a 12-game college season you face two or three guys that are contributors in the NFL let alone starters and doing well. The best guy you face in college is the average guy in the NFL, not any specific guy but that's just the philosophy there is you're facing guys week-to-week who are obviously the best at what they do in the world. I think you have to get acclimated with going up against that really good guy every week, having a game plan for him and scouting, all of that kind of stuff. Physically that was the hardest adjustment, mentally I was lucky that at Cal we had a really advanced offensive scheme. We pretty much did a lot of things that NFL teams are doing so I didn't have to come from – it's cliché but the spread offense with four plays and having to learn a whole NFL playbook so I got a little bit lucky from that perspective."

Q: Several long-term deals have been worked out amongst your group, how comfortable are you and how do you think you guys are coming together as a group?

SCHWARTZ: "I think it's great. Continuity on the o-line is awesome. You go to Denver, you go to wherever and you can't hear the guy next to you and you have to have some trust in the guy next to you that he'll be able to really know what to do, do his job and be able to do it without talking and without communicating and that's something that you play together a while, you understand how a guy works, where he's going to be on certain plays, if you have a double team kind of body position you know everyone blocks a little bit different. I think last year getting here and playing with Larry [Laurent Duvernay-Tardif] just kind of our mesh together and him getting a feeling for me and me a feel for him and I think that progressed as the season went on and it's great playing next to a guy like that. I'd say that everybody down the line, all five guys are pretty comfortable with each other, and continuity, especially at this position, is a great thing."


Q: How difficult was the Pittsburgh loss?

COLQUITT: "It was just because obviously the work that you put in up to that point. It didn't just start in last April, it started since 2013 with this club and the coaching staff and everything new with the organization, so it hurt. We had kind of built up to a point. Doesn't help that it's my old man's team, but yeah we take that personally but we also know that that kind of gives us another notch in our belt and say 'hey that hurt, let's use this for next year as fuel to the fire.'

Q: Do you feel like a team has to go through some difficult losses like that in the postseason to truly get over the hump?

COLQUITT: "Yeah definitely, I think that as athletes we're defined as our wins, our victories and our championships and stuff like that, but a lot of failures and stuff that athletes and teams go through kind of get you to that point where it gets you over that hump and kind of pushes that environment that you want. We always talk about culture in this building and bringing a culture of winning and that starts with getting the most competition in a room as possible, and I think that Andy [Reid] and John [Dorsey] have done a great job of doing that and when we have those games as much as they hurt that's something that veterans and rookies need to go through so we can say we don't want this to happen next year. We have to start building here in April and try to get to that point where we're playing in February which we want to do.

Q: You're heading into the last year of your contract, do you feel like this will be your last year here or the last year of your career maybe? How long do you want to kick and do you feel like there's going to be a future beyond this year here for you?

COLQUITT: "Definitely, I had a couple of things, an operation like two Januaries ago, something that kind of had plagued my knee since high school. I had six titanium screws put in in high school, I know we don't talk a lot about injuries but this wasn't an injury, it was kind of a preexisting condition that I had and I finally got a chance to get that taken out finally, and these last two years of football have been my best. I feel like, I know I'm not getting younger but I feel like I'm getting healthier, stronger, and kickers I feel like are a little like golfers. You see the guys that are 42, 43 years old that are still kicking at a high level and I'm still a young 34, but my body feels better now than it did in 2007-08 and that's because of Rick Burkholder and everything that they do. I'm in a rehab program even though I don't have an injury and I think with Barry's [Rubin] program and some of the things that they put together for us now prolongs our athletic career. So I feel better now. My third and fourth year were kind of going down here, and I feel like I'm very much going up. We'll see what happens, there's a business side of things but I feel great. Moving forward this is the best I've ever felt."


Q: On the Chiefs and Jamaal Charles parting ways:

WEST: "It's always tough to see my brother go, but like I said he taught me so much and he's in a good spot and we know that it's Jamaal Charles so as far as it comes to football we're not worried about that. He's going to be somewhere playing at a high level."

Q: How do you expect your role to change with him being gone?

WEST: "We're just going to come in and keep doing what we've been doing. It's not about us, it's a team. It takes a team to win a Super Bowl and I feel like that's what we're focused on right now."

Q: How do you feel? WEST: "I feel good, I feel great actually. I lost a couple of pounds. I feel like I'm ready to go."

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