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What We Learned From the Assistant Coaches on Sunday

The Chiefs' assistant coaches spoke to the media on Sunday following practice


Q:Did you learn anything in your game or games around the league about the kickoff rule?

TOUB:"Yes we did. It was kind of fun to go and see what everyone was doing and how they were going to attack it. You can't really change much about the kickoff, it's pretty much all the same, but the kickoff returns, and the way guys are going to scheme it up and different things they'll try to do, I thought it was really interesting. We are still a work in progress there too as far as getting the timing and spacing down because it is different. It's going to take a number of games and reps to get that down. I think by the end of the preseason we will be ready to roll once the season rolls around."

Q:What did you think of Tremon Smith in the preseason game?

TOUB:"Tremon was everywhere. We had him at gunner, punt returner, kick returner and corner holding up. We really have to find out if he's a good player and he had a great game. He almost popped one on a kick return. He hits it hard, he hits fast, he has good vision and a lot of courage. You saw him do that with the fair catch he made in the pooch area and the other one where he caught it with tight coverage and got a tackle for a loss but he still did a nice job fielding the ball. That's the first step, you want to see how a guy is going to handle the pressure with live guys coming at him. I thought he handled it really well."

Q:What kind of communication process do you have with your special teams guys as the preseason goes along and you get closer to the final cut?

TOUB:"We meet every single night as a staff. We grade every player, rank every player, every night, everyone hears what everyone says. There's no secrets. There's not going to be any surprises. We all talk about everyone. Everyone hears it and we are all on the same page. I think we have a lot of talent. I think there's going to be a lot of good players that are going to get cut and you'll see they will get picked up by other teams. I just think we have a lot of depth, and that's a good thing to have." 


Q: What did you think of Breeland Speaks, Armani Watts and Tremon Smith in the preseason game?

SUTTON:"I thought all did a decent job. All have areas they have to improve on, obviously. But for a first game, decent. It was a good test for all of them. They all got in against the 'top guys.' I thought it was good."

Q: Do you think any or all of those guys will be ready to help you out in the regular season?

SUTTON:"I'm hopeful of it. I think what they have shown so far, I think they are in a position to contribute. I think over these next couple weeks in the games we will get a chance to see them and how far they have come. They still have a long ways to go, don't get me wrong. But I think they have shown enough that you say, 'OK, look, they have the aptitude, they have the talent, to do this. Now it is whether they can drill down and do these techniques.' As I have told you guys before, the key is developing this level of consistency that you have to have to be a major player from a starting standpoint with major minutes out there. That to me is the biggest question as you go forward here."

Q: What is your gut reaction to losing Daniel Sorensen for an extended period of time?

SUTTON:"Well, unfortunately, I've had to say this a few times over the last few years, you hate to lose anybody. You feel disappointed for your group but you feel real bad for the player because these players put in a tremendous amount of time and effort beyond what we are doing here to get ready for this. To have that taken away that quick is tough on the guys. They bounce back. We talked it after the third day that there are people sitting here and you are sitting in that room thinking, 'Well this is my position, this is my role.' We try to explain that every single year we have been here. There is a guy sitting in that position that's ended up playing major minutes. That to me is the whole thing. You have to keep developing your team. We have some good players. We have a good group depth-wise and some good talent. They just have to take advantage of these opportunities, the guys that have to step up. Who that is going to be? We don't know that for sure right now. That's where it is. You are disappointed for Dan, number one, and then you want to keep all your guys together."


Q:Patrick Mahomes took a lot of hits in the first preseason game. Where is the offensive line at in terms of technique?

HECK:"Protecting the quarterback is something that we work very hard at. We've got to continue to work hard at it. You see on the first play of the game, our quarterback got hit. As an offensive line, that's not acceptable to us. We know the importance of protecting the quarterback, particularly early in the game. So, we're busting our butts out here to work on throwing our hands, making sure we're accurate with those punches and our technique."

Q:What did you see out of the first-team offensive line in the nine snaps they played on Thursday?

HECK:"What I saw out of that group was great effort, intensity and probably a little bit of jitters in over-doing some things. We've got a high standard – we've been a young offensive line in the past. Right now, we're one of the older and more experienced groups on this team. We expect a lot out of those guys. We expect a lot out of ourselves in that area. We know that we've got to amp up the intensity, put the pressure on ourselves, raise that bar a little bit and keep working hard."

Q:How did the guys on the starting offensive line react to watching themselves after that first preseason game?

HECK:"I'm really lucky because I really get to work with a terrific group of guys every year – that's the nature of offensive line. Particularly this group, these guys are true pros. They watched it, they're very critical of themselves, they're very prideful and if there's something that they're not liking on tape, they're out here working to correct those things. That was the reaction I felt."


Q:What have you seen from Patrick [Mahomes] here and the few snaps he got the other night that tells you he's progressed?

KAFKA:"He only got about nine snaps in the game and I thought he did a really good job with the football. There was an opportunity down field, it wasn't there, he came back down, checked it down. I thought he did a good job."

Q:Patrick's only 22 but do you see a maturity in him that you would normally see in a veteran presence?

KAFKA:"Yes, I agree with you 100% on that. He's done a great job of taking the whole entire offense, bringing them together, communicating with them at a really high level and then also going out there and playing fast with them. If they make a mistake, they come back, they talk about it and fix it. It's great as a coach to be able to have that freedom for them to make those changes on the fly."

Q:In the OTA period, footwork is what you really wanted to emphasize with Patrick, how have you seen his footwork progress since then?

KAFKA:"I think you can tell. In the game I think he did a nice job of stepping up in the pocket. We'll continue to work that with all our quarterbacks, not just Patrick. We know there are going to be some edge rushers in our division that are going to rush the passer. We have to be able to step up in the pocket, help our tackles, then get the ball down to the receivers."


Q: What have you seen from Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland's dynamic so far?

DELEONE:"The good thing was in OTAs they were both full go. So I got to see a little bit of it there and they did great together. Those guys really mesh well on and off the field. I think they both do a great job together and they have really good chemistry and at OTAs that was evident on the field. Obviously, they haven't been here and Rick (Burkholder) and Coach (Reid) have talked to you about that. Yesterday, they played most of practice together and I think you saw it. They are both kind of getting back into here. There is a little bit of rust, but I think you saw the chemistry in 9-on-7 was pretty good. They are both really good, physical players and have great chemistry together."

Q: When you say chemistry, how do you see that?

DELEONE:"In our defense, when you are playing inside linebacker, there are a lot of times where those two guys have to play off each other. If I am the front side guy, I may hit a play and the back side guy has to be able to play off of me. So being able to understand how the other guy plays and being able to play with each other and off each, I think that's when I am talking about chemistry. I think those guys really have it and they are good together doing that."

Q: How is this better having two different linebacker coaches?

DELEONE:"I think there are a lot of different ways to do things well. So I think the way we are doing it now, you just kind of from a meeting standpoint, it is just the efficiency of what we are getting accomplished. And it's not that you can't do it with one coach, you can. From a meeting standpoint, they are different positions. They are different techniques and they are different positions from a play-to-play basis. So now you are talking to everybody in the room. When I'm making a coaching point, it's going to everybody in the room and I know that's the same with Mike (Smith)."


Q:How did you evaluate your group when you looked back at the tape after the game?

HARRIS:"We didn't have a whole lot of mental errors and at this point in the season that's what you look for. Make sure with the volume that we put in that we don't have a lot of mental errors and there weren't a lot of mental errors."

Q:We always talk about Kendall Fuller, Steven Nelson and David Amerson but how do you evaluate some of the depth behind them?

HARRIS:"I think all of the young guys are doing a really good job. Tremon (Smith) is getting better and better every day. (D'Montre) Wade is getting better. (Arrion) Springs is getting better. Makinton (Dorleant) he's getting better. All of our guys are doing a good job to get better."

Q:A big question is how does this defense replace Marcus Peters? How do you do that and can you do that?

HARRIS:"Whoever is here that's who's here. Marcus was a talented player but he's on another team now so whoever's here that's who we deal with. It's not about replacing him, it's about us continuing to strive as a defense."

Q:Have you noticed a difference with Steven Nelson whether it be confidence or comfortability now that he's able to focus primarily on being on the outside?

HARRIS:"Steve's always been a highly competitive guy. From college to his first year here he's grown, he's matured as a professional and as a man. You can see that out on the field. Whether he's inside or outside I think the growth would have been there. If I would say 'Hey Steve I need you to play inside,' I think you'll still see the same guy."