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What We Learned From the Chiefs' Assistant Coaches on Thursday

Dave Toub, Eric Bieniemy, Bob Sutton, Al Harris and Mike Kafka all spoke with the media Thursday afternoon


Q: How is the new kick off rule going to changes things for you?

TOUB: "It is going to change things up a bit. I think, at the end of the day, there are going to be more returns because the returner is going to feel a lot more space back there. When he catches the ball, the coverage won't be on him immediately. Guys are going to want to take their option as returning them."

Q: Does the new rule change what you are looking for in a return guy?

TOUB: "A little bit. I think it is going to be a more like a punt returner style because there is going to be more single blocks. You aren't going to have the point of attack where you are hitting it and you have a running back style, like an iso play. It is going to be more of a big field type, more like a punt return."

Q: So is Tyreek Hill back in that business?

TOUB: "Tyreek is the punt returner right now. Kick return is up for grabs. We have a lot of guys in there that are working hard."

Q: Has anyone jumped out?

TOUB: "Not right now. It is too early. Right now it is about, like Coach (Reid) talked about, getting fundamentals down, knowing what to do. Learning our base special teams and what we do with the kick return game. It is too hard to tell right now till we start having contact."



Q: Are you proud of Duvernay-Tardif getting his medical degree?

BIENIEMEY: "It says a lot about the person and the character. For a professional football player to not only play at a high level, but also to take the time to go back and finish the things that he started. To have a doctor starting on your offensive line says a lot."

Q: Was there any particular growth you wanted to see from Mahomes from last week to this week?

BIENIEMEY: "Each and every week is a different approach. We always want each and every guy to go out there and compete and work on the little things that they need to improve upon. Now, obviously, throughout the course of these two weeks, we've had some highs and we've had some lows. I will say this, though, to every man's credit, they've done a great job of attacking the challenge and getting better at the little things. That is the important thing. At this point in time, we just want to build chemistry. We want our guys to come together and understand and learn to play with each other. That is important. Our guys are doing a very good job of accepting the challenge."

Q: How have you tried to implement Sammy Watkins so far?

BIENIEMEY: "You have to understand, the head man we work with, everyone is inclusive. If you are the starter or you are the bottom guy on the roster, we are going to coach our guys as if they are all starting. They are all being given an opportunity to show what they can do. That is the beauty of being in this particular situation. We also have a very good staff of coaches that do an outstanding job of communicating. We just want all our guys to come out here and feel a part of it."

Q: How fun is it to watch Sammy Watkins out there with the new guys?

BIENIEMEY: "So far so good. Right now it has been baby steps because guys are learning to play with each other. That is important. We have a very good group of players that have had success in the past. We just want these guys to learn to play with each other. So far, they are doing an outstanding job of making sure they detail everything and also holding each other accountable."



Q: What are you seeing from all the new guys in the secondary?

SUTTON: "Well, I think (David Amerson) and Kendall Fuller have played a lot. We've seen them on the field just watching the other team. Both of those guys have had good OTA periods here. Steve Nelson has had a really good period here as well. I think we've got some good football players there. They've all done a really good job here and I just think we will build on it. I think we are capable there. I think we are going to be fine."

Q: The defense as a whole has a lot of new faces as well.

SUTTON: "We have a lot of new dudes. I think I counted one time, it was 19 or 20 in the group, something in that number. They are all different. They are from young rookies to guys that came here as free agents. It is a really good group of guys. It is early in the process, but they seemed to have meshed really good. They are very attentive, working hard at it. Overall, really happy with the guys. I think they have done a great job. This is hard on anybody, but it is really hard on defensive players in this time frame. You can't do a lot of things you want to do, but the guys have really embraced it and gotten as much out of it as we possibly can."

Q: Does it feel a little bit like starting over with the defense?

SUTTON: "Any time you have that large of a number. You all know, in the NFL, I don't know what they used to say, one third of your roster changes every year anyways. This is just a bigger change, a bigger chunk. It is new, but it gives you a chance to kind of go back to basics and say, 'Hey, this is where it started.' You try to re-explain to guys. Guys that have been here can help them, obviously. There is an energy from that, yeah."



Q: There has been a lot of turnover in the secondary, is it refreshing to have so many new guys?

HARRIS: "As a coach, you just teach. Whoever is in the room, you teach. That is how I look at it. At the end of the day, their performance falls on me. I take that approach. Whoever is in the building, that is who is in the building."

Q: What are your early plans for Fuller, Amerson and Nelson?

HARRIS: "Those guys right now are doing a very good job. Fuller is a pro, football IQ is high. Steve has always done a great job. He is a competitor, doesn't miss reps and wants to compete all the time. I know what I am going to get from him. Dave has done a great job coming from a different scheme and adapting to what we do, our culture and how we handle things here."

Q: Is it an emphasis to rotate all those guys at different spots to see where they mesh?

HARRIS: "No, right now, as our package sits, you put the guys on the outside who are outside guys and inside guys on the inside. That is how we handle it as a defensive staff. Right now, Dave and Steve are my outside pieces and Fuller will go inside."

Q: Some people have Kendall Fuller as the best slot corner in the NFL.

HARRIS: "I can see why they say that. It is a smart guy. He does exactly what you ask him to do. Very coachable, which I can definitely see people saying that."



Q: What have you seen so far in these first two sessions of OTAs?

SMITH: "We have the majority of our stuff in so does the offense. You see some guys swimming especially the young guys. We have a lot of stuff in but they're picking it up especially our young guys. I'm sure you guys are going to talk about Breeland (Speaks). He's a football guy. He's smart, he's got instincts, things come natural to him. The thing with him like a 4-3 end they're not used to dropping and so for him to pick it up this quick and at least get a feel for it is pretty good. I feel good about the guys. The other guys in the room are older guys who are used to this system and they know what's going on."

Q: Specifically with Breeland what makes you think that the transition is going to be possible?

SMITH: "I think it goes all the way back to the whole draft deal. We had him here on the visit, get him on the board, teach him about two or three defenses and then just have him spit it back to me. The thing I like about him is he can do it, especially the drop stuff. Then just the way he carried himself. He almost carries himself like a vet. He walked in the room, and it's like he's done it before. Then you get him here after the draft and just watch him move in his space, so that kind of confirmed everything. Rookie camp he was a little bit awkward at first but he picks it up quick. You make one or two things and he sees it and he has it. He'll be fine doing all of that stuff I have no worries about that."

Q: In your opinion what is the single most important trait that an elite edge rusher has to possess?

SMITH: "Relentless. Period. A lot of your sacks come off of second and third effort especially at this level. These tackles are big and good. Obviously you have to have good technique but be relentless. I think one of the great things about Tamba (Hali) that's what he was. Tamba's relentless, obviously his technique is good but you just can't stop."

Q: This is the first year we've seen the two linebackers coaches. Can you explain the work process between Mark (DeLeone), Bob (Sutton) and yourself?

SMITH: "Like I said with this system when you have both of them in the same room and you're talking about inside linebackers what are the outside guys doing. Now you're talking about pass rushes, so in a 3-4 you have to separate them. It's been a smooth process. That's how we did it in New York. That's how me and Sutton met each other, he was inside and I was outside. You just get to focus on those guys and you really get to dive in deep especially when you have a lot of stuff that we do, you get to dive into it. But it's been a good process. I've known Mark before so everything's been good."



Q: Where have you seen the biggest growth in Patrick Mahomes ?

KAFKA: "One big point of emphasis for Patrick (Mahomes) was his feet and his footwork. He put in a ton of work all last year and coming up to the offseason right here, so I think that's, right now, where I'm the most happy where Pat's at with his footwork."

Q: What have been your impressions of him being able to take snaps under center?

KAFKA: "He's made constant improvement every single day and that's what we're looking for."

Q: As far as weaknesses with Patrick Mahomes – where were you saying (to Patrick) this is the part of the game where you need to work on?

KAFKA: "So in our quarterback room we're going to strive to perform at a really high level. So we're coaching them hard, he's put in a ton of work. It'd be doing him a disservice if I told him if there was only one thing he needed to work on. So we're working to fine-tune every single aspect of playing the quarterback position."

Q: He's pretty accepting of wanting to know?

KAFKA: "Yeah that's the best part. He's been a pleasure to work with, a pleasure to coach and like I said, he's put in a ton of hours. He's going behind the scenes, working with guys individually. I'm really proud of where he's at right now."

Q: Despite the fact he's 22, could you see him being a leader in the locker room as far as dealing with these veteran guys?

KAFKA: "Absolutely. I think, very early on, even in his rookie year he was taking that role on in conjunction within his role as a backup, he was being a leader. Those young guys that were coming in his class and on the practice field and the scout team, working with those guys – very detailed person, so absolutely."

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