What We Learned From Saturday's Media Availability

Head Coach Andy Reid, QB Alex Smith, T Eric Fisher, LB Derrick Johnson and WR Jeremy Maclin spoke with the media Saturday

HEAD COACH ANDY REID

Opening Statement:"Alright – really the guys that didn't practice today – Spencer Ware is sick, Jamaal [Charles] didn't practice today, Tamba [Hali] didn't practice today and Justin [Houston] didn't practice. They didn't do the conditioning part this morning. Everyone else did it and did a nice job with it. I think the team being back and being in good shape is good. I'd like to thank the fans. We got a load of people out here today, and we appreciate all of their support. (Eric Fisher) Fish signing his new deal – it's a tribute to his hard work, his effort that he's put in. We're proud of him for that. I know a lot of the guys were congratulating him on that up there for this opportunity that he has to stay here for a while."

Q:You have three guys on PUP – Jamaal [Charles], [Justin] Houston and Tamba [Hali]?

REID: "Nobody else."

Q:Will you see Jamaal Charles and Tamba Hali at camp?

REID: "They're here. We will see. We're just going to have to take it nice and slowly with them and see how it works out. I'm not going to set a timeline. You know all of them are good players. They need to get into football shape and there will be a time that's right for them."

Q:Why is Eric Fisher so important to this team?

REID: "He's a good player."

Q:Is Justin Houston here?

REID: "Justin is here. All the guys on that list are here. Everybody's here."

Q:How important is Eric Fisher signing an extension and what kind of security does he give you?

REID: "It's an important position – they all are. We have some good players here. Obviously, there are other guys who are going through contract things, so we're fortunate to have a good football club, and Eric (Fisher) is one of them. So, keeping our offensive linemen intact is one of our goals, and he's a big part of it."

Q:Was there a particular moment where you saw Eric Fisher getting it going?

REID: "I thought last year. I thought he came back last year in great shape. I thought he continually got better last year. I still think he has plenty of room to improve. I think he will continue to do that. He has a good work ethic. He's kind of grown up before our eyes. He was a young kid coming in from a small school and joined the National Football League. I know there are games he wished he could have back when he was young. He had a couple of injuries in there, but he persevered through it and he got rewarded."

Q:What do you want the reputation of the [offensive] line to be?

REID: "Like I mentioned last year, I don't care how pretty it looks – I really don't care about that as long as they're scrappy fighters and get down and get dirty. You have to do that on the offensive line – no matter how you cut it, or worry about if the uniforms look good, and helmets are shiny and all that good stuff. When you start playing that position, you got to be able to have a certain attitude and you've got to bring that attitude every week. So, I think that's the core."

Q:Eric Fisher talked about how the Houston game last season gave him a boost – do you think so?

REID: "The playoff game? Yeah – I guess so. I thought he did pretty good."

Q:I don't remember you guys running a practice on offense where all you did was throw screen passes?

REID: "This practice is our screen, raw period."

Q:Were you satisfied with that part of your game last year?

REID: "No, we got to get better at that – got to get better at that."

Q:Of all the things you do – is that one of the hardest things to get right?

REID: "As far as inside screens, I think we can improve. Outside screens, I think we do tremendous on. So, if you get both in the season going at the same time – you're doing pretty good."

Q:Why are you doing better on the outside than inside?

REID: "I need to keep it better upfront and continue to get out there and do a better job."

Q:On screens between the tackles?

REID: "Four yards outside the tackle. Where the linemen are coming out, and blocking with the back, and going downhill, four-by-four and upper deck."

Q:How do you feel about someone like Parker Ehinger helping you in those types of plays?

REID: "I think they did a good job." 

Q:What's the strategy with working Phillip Gaines in?

REID: "Well, he's a good player. He came to the first camp here and got in the swing of things – back in the swing of things. We're counting on him to play of course. He got hurt at the Green Bay game, so we expect him to get back to that form and be better, so we're going to work him in. Is it going to take every snap – probably not – but he'll get some wheels under him. He's done a nice job out there."

QB ALEX SMITH

Q:A lot of screens, a lot of passes and plays today, what does it feel like working on that? How do you guys feel like you're fairing on that?

SMITH: "It was good. First day, we did the running this morning and a lighter practice this afternoon so got a good mix in, I thought. Sometimes the first day is like bombs away for the fans and you come out here and its kind of downfield throws. I thought it was a good mix; we got a lot in today. Got some pretty good looks, get working on some screens and stuff. Work on some no huddle, we're getting the ball rolling with that. The young guys bring good energy, good tempo."

Q: Mentioning good tempo, is that a difficult play for everybody to develop quickly, I know sometimes if there is a slow-type of play defense figures it out.

SMITH: "That's just the nature of screens. I think in general, you catch them right, you execute them right, and it's one of the prettiest plays in football. If they sniff it out, it's pretty ugly, you end up dirting it and moving onto the next play. A little bit is the nature of the play. You work on it, it's a unique play, big guys down field in space, a lot of timing and a lot of moving parts with lineman getting out and the running back getting out. QB's are completing the pass and setting it all up. Fortunately, I think we've got athletic, big guys up at front that I think they can do it. We've got great backs that are awesome in open space. It's certainly something you want to have in your toolbox, so to speak. But it takes a lot of work, a lot of moving parts. A lot of trust from a lot of different guys counting on each other and timing things up well. Like I said too, you must get the pitch defense to bite. Because if they don't then someone may sniff it out, and like I said, it's tough to succeed."

Q: You mentioned something the other day about how easy it is for rookies to show flashes when you don't have the pads on, how much of a change is that? How much does it change just the way your body moves and the way everybody else's body moves out there, is it that much of a difference?

SMITH: "Yeah there are a couple things. For one, like I've said the contact is limited when you don't have pads on, you know the big guys a little more but certainly the skill positions when you don't have to deal with much, then all of a sudden you put the pads on and it's full go now. And with that, as we get into camp, the volume has gone up, there's things that you just continue to layer the offense. Often times with the young guys I think it catches up with them there, the mental aspect of it. Those guys have to do a good job and continue to stay on the details, compartmentalize all of that stuff, put it in its place assuming we can handle all of that. But certainly the physical aspect is a whole other level to the game even for receivers and DBs, especially for our defense. They're going to challenge you outside, no more releases, no more getting off the ball like that. You better have a plan of attack. So yeah, it's definitely an added dimension."

Q: What have you seen from Tyreek Hill and his ability to get behind the defense on a deep ball?

SMITH: "He certainly has got a gear there as long as speed goes, that helps. Not just with the deep stuff, but certainly with underneath stuff as well. There's just something inherent in that, and when you do have speed of that kind, you get a lot of respect and guys are scared of it. I think he's had a great offseason. We had a good couple days here at rookie camp, so I'm excited to see what will happen here once they're live bullets with the pads on."

Q: Your team got the left tackle locked up on a new deal. What about his game changed last year that took him to the next level at that position?

SMITH: "Honestly, I think it's been a steady climb since his rookie year, and I think he's continued to work hard in areas that he's needed to work. He's never settled; he's never gotten complacent. He's been real with himself, he's continued to work on things and he's really just progressed. It's one of the hardest positions in football. There is no off-week. Every single team has a guy on that side of the ball that can go get the quarterback. As a young guy it's hard, week-in and week-out. The guy makes two plays a game; you're in the paper. You can dominate him the rest of the game, but he beats you twice and everybody knows it. It's a tough position. I think he's handled it really well, mentally and physically. I think he's matured in both of those areas. I think his game has come along. There are so many different things tackles are asked to do out in space and the guys they go against. I think he's just continued to chip away at that, and I'm happy that he's being rewarded for it."

Q:When you run off the field, do you leave with a mental checklist about who or what you need to talk to about?

SMITH:"Yes absolutely. Every single day there is something. A lot of times I won't even wait until practice is over. I'll talk with the guys after individual drills right away if there is something I saw, and I like to make sure we're all on the same page with what we saw and thought. That line of communication is really healthy, and I believe it's something that makes a young team better. Even if the ball doesn't go to them, I want to make sure they at least saw the same thing I saw. The more we continue to check in with everyone and make sure our thoughts are all similar in what we see, the better results we'll find."

Q:It's the details you're talking about?

SMITH:"Yeah. There are so many things that go into a play and it's not just on paper. There's so many nuances and looks you can get. The more we can understand and get on the same page together, the better off we'll be. And vice-versa, when I hear what they're thinking, it helps."  * *

Q:How comfortable do you feel with the experience in the offensive line and Mitch Morse?

SMITH:"I feel really good about them -- they've got some good depth. Certainly it helps to have the experience we do in our line but beyond the core five, we've got experience and talent beyond that. I can't say enough at how far a second-year guy like Mitch Morse has come. I don't even consider him a second-year guy with how talented he is and how far he's come. His attention to detail and how he carries himself, the guy is a real pro and that helps. We put a lot on the center in this offense. For him to come in and handle it like he has, has made my job a lot easier. We're a little young at left guard, but we've got a ton of depth and a lot of guys that have played at a high level for a long time now. That depth is important as we head into a fresh season."

T ERIC FISHER

FISHER: "Good to be back out here in St. Joe, year four. Obviously I signed my extension today. First off I'd like to thank the Hunt Family, Clark Hunt giving me the opportunity to be a Chief potentially for life. I've grown to love this city, the fans, and everybody around. I'd to thank Coach Reid, John Dorsey and his staff, my agent Joel Segal and Geoff Garmhausen for doing a great job getting this done. Giving me the chance to come back out here and continue this journey being a Chief. I'm really looking forward to it. I think the best feeling is all the support I've been getting from my teammates in the locker room. Building these friendships and bonds over the last four years, we have a really tight knit group here, and I'm looking forward to continuing the journey with them. Without any further ado here we go."

Q:Is there a part of you that's happy that you showed people you're a good player and my team thinks I'm worth this kind of money?

FISHER:"Yeah obviously I've been through my ups and downs, but I'm putting this whole year and last year behind me. I'm only looking forward to the future. I'm having fun with it. It took me awhile to adjust, to get comfortable. I'm feeling great right now, I'm feeling strong and confident. My head's good and as a team, we're out here looking forward to the future because we did some good things last year. Having basically the same group back this year we could do some special things around here."

Q:What does the future look like for Eric Fisher? What do you think it looks like now?

FISHER:"I'm setting high goals for myself. Now that I know I can do it, I'm feeling good doing it and I have some great guys around me. I really think the sky's the limit for me. I just need to take one day at a time, one game at a time, one year at a time now. What an opportunity for myself, the things I can accomplish."

Q:What'd you weigh in at today?

FISHER:"I was 315."

Q:Rookie year, the first time you stepped on their scale what'd you weigh?

FISHER:"That was a while ago. I can tell you it was low 300s, high 290s."

Q:Do you like 315? Do you feel good with that?

FISHER:"Yeah I feel comfortable. I think over the years it's been really hard for me to gain weight. Now that I'm getting older in my career it's a little easier to hold the weight over the season. It's a long season so the first couple years I was dropping too much weight. So I feel comfortable where I'm at, and I think I'll be here throughout the season, if not gain a couple pounds over the years."

Q:You've kind of bounced around a little bit on the offensive line, is left tackle basically where they said they want you to be?

FISHER:"I'd assume so. I think that's where I'm best at, where I'm most comfortable at, so yeah I'd assume so."

Q:Is this something you were working on? Or was this sort of a last minute type thing, as far as your extension?

FISHER:"Yeah, I was just up in Michigan working out and got down here last week and got into a negotiation period. I don't know. It just kind of happened. I was ready for the season one way or another, looking forward to it."

Q:Your contract places you among the highest paid tackles and linemen in general. Do you feel like you belong there right now?

FISHER:"Of course, like I said, I feel like I'm on the up and up, getting better every day, taking one opportunity at a time."

Q:Do you feel like your game is growing from year to year?

FISHER:"Extremely. Not that we have stats or anything, but I think every year making progressions throughout my game. I think it's going the way I want it. Obviously a rough start, but the sky's the limit just like I said."

LB DERRICK JOHNSON

Q:How does it feel to be back?

JOHNSON:"It feels great. Every year there are new expectations and new beginnings. The goal is always set to win it all. There's some optimism as we start camp and a lot of work to be done. We're just eager to get things started at this point."

Q:Where do you feel like the front seven is at this point?

JOHNSON:"John Dorsey and the Chiefs organization have done a great job at putting some depth together on this roster. We have a lot of really talented guys that can play. And eventually, they'll get their chance. This is the NFL, so it's next guy up. Even though we'll get some guys back later in the year, it's always reassurance that we have another one ready to step in who can produce. This time of the year is all about evaluating players. Training camp is the right time for it. There's a lot of guys out here that will have opportunities to get on the field and make plays."

Q:With the defense staying similar to last season, how do you improve on something this team is so well-versed in?

JOHNSON:"That's the great thing about football: you've never 'arrived'. There is a mindset where you can always get better. You've got to take that mindset out on the field with you as well. When you think that 'this is my fourth year in the system, we're doing the same plays, and the offense is the same' you'll get comfortable and you'll get busted on it. Even though this is my 12th year, I'm approaching it as if it's my first, and I'm earning a spot just like everyone else. Everybody is focused in right now, and we know we need to earn our spots."

Q:Has training camp become easier since you first entered the league?

JOHNSON:"It's definitely not some day at the beach at Coach Reid's camp, but it's not as hard. We were going twice a day when Dick Vermeil was here and that was in full pads -- and we were going at it hard. Those practices were for two or three hours at a time. It's always been beneficial for us. The older you get the better you get at practice. We get our work done which is most important."

Q:Do you all talk to other teams about how they practice?

JOHNSON:"I don't talk to other guys on other teams about it. I don't want to get distracted. If someone on another teams says they're not practicing as hard as we do, my mind might not be on our own business. I know what Coach Reid wants from us, and his expectations are very high. He's going to get us ready, and we're going to be ready to go once we're into the schedule."

Q:Does it feel like unfinished business with this team? Any goals for this season?

JOHNSON:"My goal is to win a championship and I'll keep that goal as long as I can. You've got to have that same fire and passion, as do the guys around me. We believe we're a team that can win a Super Bowl. We believe we have a team that can do it this year, but you still have to do all the right things, show up, and put it together."

WR JEREMY MACLIN

Q: From those wide receiver screens they look like they're pretty easy to execute. From your vantage point, are they?

MACLIN: "I mean you'd like to think so, but this is the National Football League. Those D-linemen, our football IQ isn't 100 so sometimes they have to work things out. It's definitely something that you want in your game plan and definitely something that you want to be able to do. But I don't think it's as easy as you think it is."

Q: Of all the things you do and all the routes you run, is that one of the favorites? Do you get to run a little better in an open field?

MACLIN: "Anytime you get the ball in your hands, you try to create a little bit you definitely want that as a guy who has speed and as a playmaker. So that's just another way to get the guys good balls."

Q: Is that the kind of play that's hard to develop fast, in front of you?

MACLIN: "That's one of those things. You know you have a blueprint of how it's supposed to be ran, but it's all reaction. It's all going off of what kind of happens. It's almost like being a train. You kind of have people out there blocking for you and to pick where you want to go."

Q: How big of a boost is it when you get a guy like Eric Fisher?

MACLIN: "I mean that's huge. Anytime a guy like that can get a long term contract with the team, that's huge for him, huge for this team. It offers a lot, so I'm excited and I'm pretty sure he's excited about it as well. It's going to make our team better."

Q: What about your offensive line? Mitchell Schwartz there and Fisher on the one side and the rookie Ehinger giving him more time to maybe look down the field?

MACLIN: "You know anytime you can get a good group up there and build that chemistry, it's definitely going to work out in the long run. But the one thing that we also have on that line is guys who have played in the league. I'm excited for what we have going."

Q: You spent a lot of time once the offseason program was over with Chris Conley and Albert Wilson. The guys kind of continued the offseason work. What was the idea behind that?

MACLIN: "First and foremost you want somebody to workout with. Number two is I just kind of wanted those guys to kind of understand what I do in my offseason and kind of what works for me. Giving those guys options to steal some stuff from me but also to get the flow of things. I think I've been doing it at a high level for a while, you know it's my eighth season and I feel great. So I just kind of wanted those guys to see that. Also anytime you can keep chemistry with the guys you play with it'll definitely help out."

Q: What's going to make the receiving four as a group better than last year? What are some things you want to work on specifically from last season that you can improve?

MACLIN: "It's just all about being reliable, being accountable. Anytime Alex calls our number, throws the ball our way, we will be there for him. There's really nothing else that goes into it. Everything else, being reliable is everything for running, catching that football, being there when you need to be there, taking the defender out of the picture when he needs to get taken out of the picture. It's all about being reliable and accountable."

Q: I know its day one of camp, but you've had a chance to kind of watch some of these younger guys in OTA's and minicamp so far. Is there anybody that stands out to you, provides something that maybe you guys didn't have a season ago?

MACLIN: "Clearly Tyreek's speed is off the charts. So I'm excited about him and what he can do going forward. Right now this is where you lay it all out. The dog days are coming up, everybody's mental, and everyone is going to be tested. I'm excited about having this group of guys to be tested with." 

Q: You have some guys with physical qualities obviously that are good, but understand the offense for some of these guys is going to be tough. How long do you feel it takes these guys to understand what their role is?

MACLIN: "I think the good thing about how things are structured now is you get to see it early on in OTAs. Then you get it again in training camp. Then you hit it again when the season starts. By that time it should be like clockwork. Every day you're going to get better on the field and knowing what you're supposed to do. I think we do a really good job of installing that in people's head."

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