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What We Learned From Thursday's Media Availability

CB KeiVarae Russell and OL Parker Ehinger spoke with the media on Thursday



Q:What have these days been like for you before the veterans come in?

RUSSELL: "It's been definitely much of a refresher because obviously we had the few weeks off and you are doing drills and working on your craft, but it's totally different when you're going up against receivers, and a quarterback and also learning the defense at the same time. For me, and also the rest of the rookies, I believe it's a head start for us – just like it was at Rookie Mini Camp. I think it's the same thing – hearing the defense one more time or the offense if you're on offense. It's kind of a refresher of your mind and it's kind of slowly putting in new stuff because we've heard it before as well because the veterans already know a majority of what they know. They already know the defense and the offense, so I think it allows us to bring us up to that point."

Q:What do you think your progress will be focused on this year?

RUSSELL: "I think it's just about being a student of the game – being a sponge – listening to my coaches, listen to the guys around me who've been here before, been here 10 years in the league. Just listen to those guys and everybody that's done this before. I've never done this, obviously. I've played football, but I've never been a professional, so I just listen to the guys around me and just kind of, like I said, being a sponge. I think that'll help me, and if it helps me, it's going to help the team."

Q:What do you need to show the coaches that you deserve the open spot in the secondary? 

RUSSELL: "I think I just need to focus on my position. Wherever coach puts me, I need to focus on me being the best at that. If it's at nickel, if it's at corner, at safety – I have to focus on being the best at that position. I can't worry about someone else. Like I said, if I'm worried about someone else, I'm not giving my all, and if I'm not giving my all, then I could hurt the team. I think from my perspective, I need to worry about what coach wants me to do. I have to do 100 percent at that job."

Q:Are they putting you at different places so far?

RUSSELL: "Yes, so far they have tried me at the nickel and corner spot, so I've been trying to learn it all. Trying to learn the safety just in case somebody goes down in that position and they want me to play safety – I got to know that as well. So far, I've been trying to learn a little bit of nickel, a little bit of corner."

Q:How much do you enjoy it being football all day, every day while at camp?

RUSSELL: "It's exciting, but you have to get used to it – right? There are longer meetings, more meetings than there was in college, so that's what you have to get used to. It is only football, but you have to get used to being a pro and how to approach it too. That's a hard thing as a young man, you're like, you have that mind set of, 'Dang, two hours again – three hours?' You got to have that mindset that, 'Yeah, we got two hours again. It's time to get better.' You just have to continue to transition into that mindset because you wake up at 7 or 7:30 – whatever time you wake up – and you don't leave until like 9 p.m. So, I think that's the length of how much football it is. I mean I love the game of football, but it's the length. That's just with anything. You might like your job, but if you're there 13 or 14 hours it's like, 'Phew – I'm getting a little tired now.' So, that's what it is. You got to transition your mind to continually love it every single minute of the day. I think I'm getting to that point – just got to keep doing it."

Q:How do you keep from becoming mentally overwhelmed? 

RUSSELL: "You just got to keep reminding yourself why you play the game – what's your purpose. I think that's what it is because we are all going to be tired, we're all going to be sore, we're all going to get to that point of like, 'Dang, we want a break or whatever.' You got to remind yourself of why you play this game, what's my purpose and who am I playing for? I play for my family just like a lot of people, so those moments of like, 'Dang,' you just have to really remind yourself of what's my purpose, why am I doing this?"

Q):As you're doing that, how's having a guy like Phillip Gaines in that room?

RUSSELL: "He's helped myself and the rest of the rookies tremendously. It's great to have someone who's been around to really be that leader right now. I think that for me personally, I look up to him. From the locker room I'm always talking to him, in the film room I'm asking him questions. Out on the field if I'm not sure of something I either go to coach or I go to Phillip just because like I said, he's been here before, he's learned the defense, he's played at a high level. So it's really good to have that guy because the rest of the veterans are gone, it's really good to have someone to help us out."

Q:Before the draft, before you knew you were going to playing for the Chiefs back when you were going through the combine, going through pro day and all of that stuff. What goals did you have for your rookie season specifically?

RUSSELL:"Obviously you have a bigger goal that everybody has during their rookie year type stuff, but for me my goal was to come in and play, that was my goal. I go hard, special teams, anywhere, I don't care. I want to be on the field in the NFL, that was my goal and if I can help the team in kickoff, I'll do kickoff, if it's kick return I believe I can do that. Punt return, punt, I don't care how it is, I feel like I can really help this team with something. That was my main goal. Like I said, corner, nickel, wherever Coach wants me to go. If he wants to put me back on offense I'll do that too. My goal is that I want to help the Chiefs win. They're too good of a team not to have a championship. I want to be a part of that. That's why they drafted me to try to win the championship. It's an honor for me that they drafted me because I can help you guys win a championship. So I realized that I needed to figure out a way to help this team in some way."

Q:Now that you've been here for a few months and you know a little bit about what it takes to play in the NFL, has that changed at all?

RUSSELL:"No, same mind set. You've just got to work even harder because obviously this is professional. This is our job, you try to take guys positions and people are trying to take yours. You're going against guys getting paid for this. People have kids, people have houses and you have to understand people are hungry for this and you have to be just as hungry. I think I am just as hungry, like I said, I want to be a sponge. I'm trying to take all this information I can in because there is a lot of information I've never learned. Football at this level is a lot different from college level obviously, there's so many techniques and nuances of the game that I never learned before, so that's why I have to keep picking these guys brains a part, just trying to get to that spot."

Q:On the field how important is patience for you and being able to preempt a pass, I know a lot of guys like to be aggressive but sometimes that can hurt you, have you changed at all in your approach since getting to this next level?

RUSSELL: "You do, that's the tough thing about my position, you have to take risks at times. You want to touch the ball at times, if you're always patient you have to take that with a grain of salt like if you're too soft you keep getting caught on balls all day. You have to take risks at times. That's the tough thing about corner you have to know when though and it's not just guessing it's anticipating. You have to understand the formations, you have to understand what the quarterback is looking at, and if the receiver splits what it's going to dictate and I think that's different now for me than as college player because you get so used to the college hash marks, college numbers, so for me it's been tough. So it's like 'he's outside the numbers', but in college if he's outside the NFL numbers he's still inside the college numbers so that's what's tough as a college player the raw concepts are little different because the field is different. So for me I have to understand like this is where I'm going to get out, I've been four years of playing, actually my whole life playing on a college and high school type field, but now the hash marks are different so I have to get used to that, get used to the offense and what they're going to do. I'm playing against a guy like Alex Smith at practice who's been here for like 10 years or something like that. He's had knowledge, he's played against these top corners so I have to get used to what a guy like him sees, not just what any quarterback sees. A guy who's been in the league, what do they see? So that's been tough for me, but I've been coming to practice with the same approach: the hard work, being a sponge, keep repeating, and just try to take all of this information that they're giving me."

Q:A lot about what you do is just natural instinct too. Do you think it was easier to follow you're natural instinct at college than it is now just because the speed of the game is faster and guys are smarter?

RUSSELL:"It's a lot easier in college than it is now because you don't have to be the fastest to be the best player in the NFL. Experience is a big thing in the NFL, experience in huge in the league. You see guys like Tamba Hali who have played 10 or 12 years it's because they know so much. You don't have to be the fastest anymore, because of what they know they have so much knowledge that they know where to be before anybody else does. I think that's where I have to get to, athletically obviously people see that I can play with the top guys but mentally I'm not there yet with the rest of the guys that have been in this league for a while. So I have to get to that point, that's why we work, that's why we call it practice and we come every day and keep running. " 

Q:How has your life changed since signing your NFL contract and receiving checks?

Russell:"We've been smart with my money. Like I said, my main goal is to get to a second contract. Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to have that generational wealth. My current contract has set me up to where I can take care of a few things that I maybe couldn't have before. It's still not enough at this point to where I can take care of my kids, and eventually my grandkids. I've still got to be smart with my money. I haven't done much with the money yet. I've gotten a few smaller things like a cheap car and I still live in an apartment. People ask me why I don't buy a house yet and I am always like, 'why?' I don't have enough to buy those types of expenses yet. I told my mom we've got to be smart with the money yet. I didn't buy her a house or anything expensive yet. I told her we can take care of the basics -- if her car needs fixed or anything like that, I can take care of it. But we don't need to get too crazy yet. This isn't 2006 where we were getting 40-million dollar contracts. I'm trying to stay smart and keep a head on my shoulders with how we spend the money and how we do it. Need to make sure it's kept for important measures."

Q:What type of car did you get?

Russell: "A 2012 Mustang, a used one. I like that thing and it was cheap. It rolls good. Don't think just because it was cheap that it doesn't roll well."

Q:What impresses you about Tyreek Hill?

Russell: "He's fast. I've never seen anyone that fast. You all know Will Fuller, who went to my school. He ran a 4.3 at the combine and has elite speed. I've played against him and he has elite speed. Tyreek… I love you Fuller but I think Tyreek has got you on this one. He's legitimately that fast. When you see he ran a 9.9 in the 100, it's for real. No matter who's out there, you see it with him. He's fast. If you're not on your game, he'll take advantage of it. If you know what he's going to do, you can limit what and how he runs his routes with the space you give him. If you just go out there uncertain and the ball is hiked, and you're playing a guessing game, he's simply not a guy you want to be playing a guessing game with."

Q:What do you want the veterans to see when they come in?

Russell: "I want to show these guys that I belong here and that they didn't just draft me because they thought I was 'ok'. I want to show they drafted me because I belong with these guys. I want the guys like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Marcus Peters, and the rest of them who have made huge plays before to believe in me and know Keivarae is going to make plays for us and we trust him. I want them to have the same mindset that I'll have when I'm on the field with them. I haven't even played with them but we've all seen what they can do. There's a number of them on the NFL's Top 100 like Justin Houston and the rest of the big-name guys. I've got to earn their trust when I'm on the field and in individual drills. If I can help this team win, that's when I'll start to earn the trust from the coaches and the rest of the team. When a team can trust each other that's when they start gelling and teams start winning games."


Q: Before the draft, when you were getting ready for the draft at the combine, what goals and expectations did you have specifically for your rookie season?

EHINGER: "Obviously I was coming here to compete. They have a great offensive line here and I'm not downplaying anyone. I knew I could come in and possibly compete, and it would have to be on me to come in here and perform. Something I want to take advantage of is to come in and play, and see where it takes me from there and have a good rookie year, hoping to get some playing time."

Q: Is that true since you've been here, since the couple months since the draft?

EHINGER: "Not a whole lot. The goal is to get some playing time, whether I'm starting or obviously that doesn't come from my decision that's up to Coach Reid and Coach Heck. But whatever comes Sunday, whether I'm the six-man or the swing guy or whatever. Wherever they need me I'll be happy to play wherever, hoping to get some playing time this year."

Q: How important is it for you to come in and establish yourself before all the veterans get in?

EHINGER: "It helps. We've been doing this stuff all summer, OTA's and mini-camps so this is just a refresher for us all. It's good for all of us rookies but it's kind of getting you in your brain, thinking again, re-acclimating with everything again. It's just been good, a refresher for us."

Q: Do you feel like this offense is especially good for your abilities in the screen game?

EHINGER: "Oh yeah definitely. I like getting out on screens, from playing guard at Cincinnati, playing tackle, I obviously got out on screens a whole lot and we were good at the screen game my junior year. I like getting out on the screens, I like moving to open space, getting on a guy and putting him on the ground so it's good."

Q: Just for comparison, how much is what you know about the offense so far, how much is that a part of what the Chiefs do compared to what you did before?

EHINGER: "I think it's a lot. Having some speedy guys like Tyreek Hill and De'Anthony Thomas we can put them out and throw a screen at them and they can play in space. They're shifting quick, I think our screen units going to do well with those guys. Having guys like Jeremy Maclin and those guys opening it up, it'll be good."

Q: So far are you just working on one position on the offensive line or are they moving you around?

EHINGER: "Out at practice I'm working on one. But in the film room I'm still studying every position, when it comes down to it you need to be ready to play wherever. Still studying every position."

Q: You talked a little bit about this being a refresher. Is this the next step from OTA's?

EHINGER: "Yeah, a little bit. I think it's just the rookies getting back into practice shape again pretty quickly, even its coaches getting back and knocking the rust off. It's pretty much knocking the rust off for both us and the coaches, I think it's good."

Q: Does it make more sense now than it did back when it was in the OTA's and everything was being thrown at you?

EHINGER: "No, I don't know if I would say that it makes more sense. It's about the same thing, you know we're getting the refresher and everything, it's knocking the rust off."

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