QB ALEX SMITH
Q: With the news of Spencer Ware's injury, how does that change things?
SMITH: "I didn't even know totally, just kind of still learning today what's going on. Any time an injury happens like that, obviously you feel for them. Spencer has put in a ton of time and worked really hard. You hate to see stuff like that happen. It's a part of the game. We have dealt with injuries before like every team, so we've got to go, got to roll. We've got a good group of running backs. We have a lot of depth there which I think is nice. Just have to find a way."
Q: What do you lose without him there?
SMITH: "Spencer was so good at everything. I felt like he was a guy, especially for a bigger guy, could kind of do everything. He was good in space, good receiver for a bigger guy, physical runner but I still felt like he was nimble enough to do a lot of that stuff in that space and get the edge. I think that's a strength of his, that he can do everything. You hurt that, right? There is a guy that put a lot of time in and a lot of reps, doing all of those things for our offense, it will definitely be tough to replace."
Q: You have seen a lot of rookie running backs. How is Kareem Hunt doing? Is he more advanced than you have seen before?
SMITH: "Yeah, really talented. And definitely with the ball in his hands I think (he has) the same kind of style actually, a little bigger though and runs physical. Still got some speed. I think the thing though is just being able to handle that. Backs have to handle everything. They have to handle run game. They have to handle protections. They have to handle pass game. We put a lot on their shoulders so they have to be able to handle that all. I think that is the biggest thing for a young back is being able to handle all of those things mentally."
Q: Do you think this role is too big for him at this point?
SMITH: "No, I think it starts with a great coach in EB (Eric Bieniemy). I think he will work hard to get him prepared. I mean we are not going to put everything on him either. We have always been that way. We don't put everything on one person. You know we will all kind of have to step in to fill that void."
Q: What about the depth in that position?
SMITH: "I think when you have an injury like, depth is important to be able to handle that. I think we are in a situation where you hate for something like this to happen, but we do have good depth at that spot. Thankful for that."
Q: Sometimes young guys are quiet when it comes to asking questions. What have you seen from Hunt in that regard with your ability to communicate?
SMITH: "I think he's been good. Preseason has been great for him to kind of go out there and sometimes you have to make adjustments on the fly. It is loud, it is noisy and communication is not as clear as it is in practice. You really have to know your rules there, especially in a loud environment. So I think a little bit is just try to go out there and trust yourself too come game time. Don't overthink those things. Don't stress over that too much. Don't let that take away from your speed of play. You know go out there and play fast and react. Don't overthink that stuff."
Q: Do you feel after this injury with Ware that there should be fewer preseason games?
SMITH: "That's for a different person at a different time. Right now, we have four. It has always been that way. We are playing with them. I feel like coach has done a great job of handling the reps. We have gotten good work in, but I do not think we have been out there too much or anything. I think it is one of those things, it is a physical game, a freaky thing happened out there. I do not think you are going to be able to eliminate that. I don't think necessarily playing less games would (help). You are still going to have injuries. It is a part of the game. No one like to see it."
Q: Were there lessons from last game that you can bring to the opening game?
SMITH: "Yeah, no question. A couple of things, certainly fundamentals jump out at you. Communication, especially nonverbal. We had some blown things here and there protection-wise that should have been better. Throwing and catching should have been better on both ends. There were certainly plays to be made and we missed. We left a lot out there and you can't take that stuff for granted. You have to be able to go out there and execute on a fundamental level. I thought the crowd noise was good work for us. There were some things that we definitely need to get cleaned up, but playing in a loud environment like that I think brings out those things."
Q: Coach talked last week about Kareem getting confidence in the offense and the offense is gaining confidence in Kareem. Do you think you are getting there?
SMITH: "I think everybody is confident with him back there. I have said it is hard with running backs because sometimes you do not always get a feel for those guys until you go live. When you are going 'thud' in camp it is hard to get a feel for those guys' playmaking ability. Just so much of it is breaking tackles and running tough and then getting in space and until you actually are tackling to the ground you don't get to see that. I certainly think Kareem has shown that. I know the guys feel really good about him in there and I know I do. I am not worried about that at all."
Q: Is this week for you more preparing for the Patriots or do you spilt up your time?
SMITH: "Blend. Just be able to handle it, knowing I am not playing against the Titans. Yeah, attention focuses towards the opener. At the same time, I am still in that quarterback room, still a teammate so these guys are getting ready to play. (I'm) respectful of that and helpful in any way I can be. So just balancing those two."
Q: How do you feel about the work you guys were able to get done all three games?
SMITH: "I definitely feel positive about it. Certainly there after that opening drive against Seattle, we left a lot out there. We've got to learn from that and get better. But we have had success. Saw a bunch of different types of defenses, different fronts. I think good work. I think our goal was to get up to speed and I think we've had enough work to get there."
Q:You have been around Joel Stave for about a year, what do you think of him as a young QB prospect?
SMITH:"Joel is really talented, awesome kid. It's a tough position to be in, you don't get a ton of reps being that fourth guy. You've got to do a lot of mental reps, you've got to stay ready. You know your reps are few and far between. And with that, when you do get reps, it is hard not to make too much of them. You've been waiting on them and you finally get them, and sometimes you can make them bigger than what they are. I think human nature is to build those up. You've got to try to just go out there and relax and do what you have been coached to do. Keep it for what it is – just go out and execute the offense – don't try to do too much, because you know you aren't necessarily getting a ton of time. It is tough though, but Joel is awesome. Really, really talented. I am rooting for him and hoping for the best because it is a tough situation."
Q:Can you talk about the wide receiver position going into the last preseason game and going into the regular season?
SMITH:"A bunch of depth there. We have a bunch of talented guys. This will be a chance, everybody kind of sharing reps, your opportunities don't always come up here or there. This will be a more extended time for a lot of those guys to get to go out and show what they can do in a real scrimmage and preseason setting. I'm anxious for a lot of those guys that have been making plays in practice that haven't had a chance to shine in this environment to go out there and do that."
QB PATRICK MAHOMES
Q:How do you think you played the other night after you looked at the tape, how do you assess it?
MAHOMES: "Definitely could have played better. Try to score touchdowns, that's what you always want to do. I thought I played all right. Did some things well. Did some things I have to learn from."
Q: What early impression do you have of Kareem Hunt as a teammate, as a fellow rookie? How's that process been going?
MAHOMES: "The first time I met Kareem (Hunt) I knew that this was a guy who was going to be special. Someone that works hard, that really cares about his position in every aspect – running the ball, catching the ball and pass blocking. That's what you need to do as a running back in this offense is to do all those things and he does all of them exceptionally well."
Q: You said the first time you met him that you that he was special – what was it about him?
MAHOMES: "Definitely his demeanor, you can just tell how much he loves football. How much he really cares about this and how he comes in and works hard every single day."
Q: What's going to have to be the mentality your first start, even if it's the preseason?
MAHOMES: "You prepare hard every single week like you're going to go in and be the starter. This week is going to be special to get that first start under my belt. It's a preseason game but we'll all be treating it like it's a real one. It'll still be an opportunity for a lot of guys to get some reps and they're going to be going out there and going hard every single play."
Q: What's your biggest takeaway from Friday's game against a pretty good defense?
MAHOMES: "You just have to have a plan, every single play. You can't go into any play and not have a plan on where you want to go if they're in certain coverages. When they have defenses that are aggressive, big physical defenses like they have, you have to make sure you try to be smart and make the right play every single time."
Q: Obviously your preseason isn't over but through your first three games, how do you feel like you've progressed?
MAHOMES: "I feel like I've gotten better every single time I've been out there and that's just learning the playbook more and more, trying to get the protections right and do everything right. That's just something that will keep being a process. You have to come in every single day and work hard, get in that meeting room and get in that film room and do whatever you can to be able to do the mental side of it as well as the physical."
Q: Thursday's game may be the last time you get to play for a while. Do you feel like you've gotten enough at that point that it can last you if you need to get in a game at some point?
MAHOMES: "Definitely, just going in and getting those mental reps at every single practice will help. Going on scout team and throwing against our defense, which is one of the best in the league, is going to help a ton. Just keep adding on every single day in whatever way that I can."
Q: You talk about getting those mental reps – is it easy to improve that way without getting much work in a game-like setting?
MAHOMES: "Yeah for sure. Especially for me, I feel like the mental side of the game is where I need to improve on and keep getting better and better every single day. So I'm really going to work on getting those mental reps, calling the play back there by myself like I was in the huddle. Seeing what Alex (Smith) does compared to what I was thinking and trying to make sure we're on the same page."* *
RB CJ SPILLER
Q:What is your reaction to Spencer Ware's injury and where does it leave this running back room?
SPILLER:"I think Coach touched on it. Obviously, you don't ever want to see any man go down, but we will just let the rest of our guys know we need to pick up our play and be ready to role."
Q:How would you assess your preseason?
SPILLER:"It has been OK. Some stuff I need to work on and some stuff I need to continue to get better at. I just need to make sure I am doing the little things that I need to be successful. It hasn't been horrible, but it hasn't be spectacular either. I have plays here and there, but I am just trying to clean up some small stuff that I can control to help, not only me, but make the whole offense better."
Q:Do you think with the three running backs you have now, you have three different skill sets and each of you guys are unique in your own way?
SPILLER:"Yeah, I think that is across the whole board. I think every running back in the league is different from each other. Everybody isn't going to be the exact same. Obviously, you have bigger guys and smaller guys. Everyone does something special and the guys that we have in our room, everybody could go on a different team and be successful. That is how much belief and confidence I have in all the guys in that room because we all bring something totally different. It is exciting to come to work with these guys and to get better and learn from them."
RB KAREEM HUNT
Q:What was your reaction to Spencer Ware's injury and where does the running back room go from here?
HUNT: "Honestly, you know, we really need to step up for him. Spencer is a great guy and a great back and we just have to fill some great shoes."
Q:What was Eric Bieniemy's advice to you about blocking after last game?
HUNT:"Just keep your hands inside and hit them. Drive your feet, that's it."
Q:Are you ready to start?
HUNT:"Yeah, I am ready. You just have to be ready at any moment. All of the guys are going to get reps and carries. We got West and Spiller who have played a lot of football already. They have been helping me out and I am just ready to take on the challenge."
Q:What was the advice Spencer Ware gave you?
HUNT:"Just to stay patient. Don't make it bigger than what it is and stay under control."