What We Learned From Thursday’s Media Availability

HEAD COACH ANDY REID

OPENING STATEMENT: “There are a couple injuries. Cam Erving had offseason shoulder surgery. Hitch (Anthony Hitchens) is not injured, his wife had a baby, so he’s tending to that. Other than that, I think we’ve caught up on the other guys. Great to be out here. The competition is tremendous. Guys are working hard, they’re challenging each other. Love the energy. That’s where we’re at. Time’s yours.”

Q: What do you like about Darron Lee and what role do you potentially see for him?

REID: “Yeah, Darron was one of the top guys coming out and I know Brett (Veach) really liked him when he came out of Ohio State. He brings great coverage ability, speed, he’s fast. He’s not the biggest guy, but he plays all over the field, so he gives you some flexibility there at the linebacker position. And again, that great coverage ability.”

Q: How’s Travis Kelce progressing through his recovery?

REID: “He’s doing good. He’s chomping at the bit out here. He’s right behind you, watching everything. He’s doing good.”

Q: You’ve talked about going through the tape for the self-scouting process. How do you think Patrick Mahomes has responded to that this offseason?

REID: “Yeah, Patrick with the self-scout stuff, he’s been going through all the cut-ups, he’s been great. One thing about him is he’s real about himself and he wants to be great. So, you have to be able to do that. You’ve got to be able to look at it in a humble manner and take it all in and correct it and he’s on a mission to do that.”

Q: During this time period, how do you balance Patrick Mahomes trying new things vs. just trying to get better at the basics?

REID: “So we do keep a balance there. But we’re giving him new things to work with. He digests things easy, so we want to keep rolling. He’s attacked that part and has still been able to get work in with other things that he needed to work on.”

Q: It’s early, but how is his chemistry with some of the new guys, like Mecole Hardman?

REID: “Yeah, it’s been good. I can’t tell you it’s been a ton of team reps, but the reps he’s had he’s done very well with. Mecole’s getting better every day, that’s been kind of fun to watch.”

Q: Based on what you saw last year at this time until now, how would you characterize the chemistry and relationship between Patrick and Sammy Watkins?

REID: “Yeah, he’s coming up here in a minute and he’ll tell you, but their chemistry is good. For both of those two, everything is a little bit easier – all the verbiage, sorting it out and getting to where you’ve got to go. For Sammy, the routes are familiar and he kind of knows how to set them up and Patrick knows what he’s going to do against different coverages. So, that’s been positive.”

Q: Sammy Watkins has talked a little bit about how good he feels physically this offseason. What have you noticed?

REID: “He’s worked very hard this offseason. He looks tremendous right now for what you can do here – this isn’t training camp – but he sure has worked hard to do what he’s doing. He’s getting a lot of reps, which is great.”

Q: How would you characterize dialogue between the team and Chris Jones right now?

REID: “I don’t know that, I don’t how they’re talking. Or are you talking about me? I haven’t talked to him. We just go, if you’re here, you get better. If you’re not, you don’t.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the NFL Draft coming to Kansas City?

REID: “Yeah, how great is that? I think it’s a tribute to Kansas City itself, the fans. It’ll be wild, it’ll be great for all the hotels and restaurants. I think it’s a win-win. And we’ll welcome everyone here. We just have to get red on everybody.”

Q: Tyrann Mathieu came in and said that he really wanted to be a vocal leader. How have you kind of seen him take on that role or take charge early on?

REID: “He’s kind of fun to be around. He’s business, he shares that with the guys around him. He has those instincts. You can’t teach that part. That’s what he’s had, he had it in college and he’s had it in the NFL. He works hard every snap and that’s infectious. Along with Frank (Clark) being Frank and going 100 miles per hour every snap, that kind of stuff is contagious.”

Q: This is the first week you can really get the team reps going. What stands out to you about the defense so far?

REID: “Yeah, so you’re not going to get the full offense or the full defense just because you can’t have contact up front. It’s not like training camp. But I will tell you it’s very well organized and for the time that they’ve had together, there aren’t a lot of holes in their coverages. I’ve been impressed by that. Some of that has to do, I think, with being able to bring in assistant coaches that have been with Spags (Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo). So, they were able to hit the ground running and I think that pays off for a camp like this. Then their communication with the players, knowing the defense, being able to communicate it and teach it. I’ve been impressed with that. I like what I’m seeing on defense and we just keep building. We’re three days into the ‘shorts’ practices, but we keep building it. I sure like the enthusiasm, intensity, energy, all those things.”

Q: Andrew Wylie has shifted from right guard to working at left guard. What makes you confident that he can make that transition?

REID: “You know he’s one of the better athletes we have up front there and that’s a good question because I don’t think people know that. He’s really a good athlete, he gets out and he runs. You see him do that, you see him lock on to people, kind of glue on to people in the screen game and on pulls. I don’t think that’s a huge adjustment for him. (Offensive Line Coach) Andy (Heck) moves those guys around anyways, he has them all over the place, just in case something like this happens. I think he’ll be fine.”

Q: Sounds like the overtime rule proposal that you submitted might be reviewed again at a later date. What are your thoughts on that?

REID: “Well, we put it in. Has it been tabled? I don’t know what it’s been, I wasn’t there. I like that rule. I’ve always felt like that should be the case, we just happened to fall into it this past year. Whatever happens we’re going to get over it pretty quick and we’re going to keep going. We did submit it.”

Q: Brett Veach talked earlier this offseason about the new defensive scheme and what it means for some guys like Breeland Speaks, who might move into a different position. What’s been your message to him and what have you seen from him so far?

REID: “So one thing in college, Breeland played everywhere. Last year, he had the opportunity to play the outside backer, but he played everywhere on the front. He played inside, he played outside. We feel like he can do the same thing here. He’s just got to keep working and growing in the scheme. But he’s working hard, we’ll see how he does.”

QB PATRICK MAHOMES

Q: What do you think about the NFL Draft coming to Kansas City?

MAHOMES: “I think it is going to be awesome. First off, it is a great opportunity for the city to show off all the tradition and history that we have here. People are going to eat a lot of very good barbeque, they are going to get to see this city and everything that it has to offer. I think it is going to be an amazing experience.”

Q: How has it been to work with Mecole Hardman so far?

MAHOMES: “He’s a great player. Obviously, he’s very fast, but he’s working on everything, route-running, getting accustomed to the offense, I was very excited. When you add guys and add depth, it really is a special thing to know that the staff and everybody keeps adding and are never satisfied with where we are at, we are going to keep getting better every single year.”

Q: Sammy Watkins mentioned how healthy he feels. What do you like about working with Sammy? How is your connection with him?

MAHOMES: “It is awesome. To see how hard he works, you can tell, he’s slimmed down, he’s running really fast, he still has that power that you see every Sunday. For him to be out here working hard, you see it every single day stacking on top of each other, you know that he’s primed and ready to go out there this season.”

Q: You’ve seen a lot of turnover on the other side of the football. How have they been to go up against so far in OTAs?

MAHOMES: “They are getting after it for sure. They are doing a lot of different things and it is hard to get a read on them. It is definitely challenging as an offense and especially at the QB position to see what coverages they are in. They are doing a lot of great things and they are adding in as much as we are adding, so it’s that back-and-forth battle every single practice. It feels like we’ll get some good plays here and they get some good plays there. When you have that competition, that’s when you know you have a good team.”

Q: Coach Reid talked about cutting up film and working with you to get better. What have you seen, and can you walk us through how that self-scouting works?

MAHOMES: “I learned that there is still a ton that I need to improve on. I made a lot of plays happen off-script last year, but there were times when I’d try to make those plays happen instead of just taking the easy completion for a first down. I have to keep finding that line between trying to make the big play happen and when I should just take the easy completion, move the chains, keep the offense on the field and keep rolling down the field. That is stuff that I have to keep working on every single year and he really opened my eyes to that.”

WR SAMMY WATKINS

Q: What do you think about the Draft coming to Kansas City in 2023?

WATKINS: “I think it’s exciting for all of the Kansas City people just to bring such a good thing to the city. Everyone can come here and watch our player get picked. It’s definitely a blessing.”

Q: How are you feeling coming into this season as opposed to last season?

WATKINS: “Same focus, just to come here and learn. I’m moving around a lot, learning the different positions. I’m really just continuing to build with Patrick (Mahomes) and the team. I’m actually just trying to be a leader to the young guys. I think that’s kind of my role now with leading. I’m trying to do all the right things so the young guys can look up to me and say that this guy does everything right. Finish the reps, uplift everyone, bring that energy everyday in practice. That’s kind of my focus now. It’s my sixth year in the league and I’m just trying to build on that.”

Q: We’ve heard you say in a couple radio interviews that you’re feeling really good this spring. What is different for you?

WATKINS: “I think my approach. You come to a new team and you kind of sit back and try to observe. Now I’m just open with love and trying to learn and continue to get better. Everyday bring that leadership mentality and speaking up in meetings. Saying ‘Hey, I did this wrong” to show the young guys that we do mess up, all of us, and correct everything in the meeting. I’m really just trying to focus on being a leader and be a little bit more outspoken and speak up for myself and doing the right things.”

Q: How important were Rick Burkholder and his staff in getting you healthy and through everything that happened last year?

WATKINS: “It’s been a blessing. They kind of know my body better than I do and they’ve been fixing and giving me tips and things to do at home and come into the training room and work on before I come out here. My body is feeling amazing. From my hips to everything I did to correct them, and I think that’s been the biggest part of why I can come out here and run around and have fun and do the things I do best.”

LB DARRON LEE

Q: After the trade it seemed like you were pretty fired up to be in Kansas City. What about this situation appealed to you?

LEE: “It’s been a great situation. To come here and learn a new system and be a part of something special. These guys have something really special going here, especially if you’ve watched these past couple of years, and especially last year. So I’m really excited just to be here and be part of this team.”

Q: What does is mean at this point in your career to kind of get that fresh start with a new team and a new defense?

LEE: “It’s everything. Everybody has pretty much got a level playing field to go out there and compete and go out there and help win ball games. I have to play catch up a little bit, some guys have a leg up but that’s okay. I’m just going to take my time and take it day-by-day.”

Q: What has it been like getting to see Patrick Mahomes on the field?

LEE: “He’s magnificent. He’s everything that has been advertised. Like I said, they already have something great brewing here. It’s one thing to see it on TV, but it’s something different to see it in practice.”

Q: When you were coming out of the Draft do you remember your interactions with the Chiefs?

LEE: “Yeah. I remember when I met them at the Combine. It was a great atmosphere. I’ve grown up watching Andy Reid when he was at Philly and just being a fan and everything he had going on there. I just remember that conversation. You obviously don’t know what’s going to happen on Draft night, but I just remember our conversation and it was something special. The fact that I’m here is just surreal.”

Q: What kind of reaction have you gotten from the fans and how did that make you feel before you even got here?

LEE: “I felt welcome. I know what the Chiefs mean around here. They welcomed me with open arms. I’m definitely happy to be a part of Chiefs Kingdom and part of this organization. I look forward to helping us win ball games down the road.”

DE FRANK CLARK

Q: How good do you think this defense can be?

CLARK: “We can be really good. If you’re talking about number one in the league across all of the boards, I feel like that’s the potential we have. We have to continue to put the work in out there. Nothing comes overnight. Nothing comes easy. This is a hard league; every game is hard. You think we are going to have the same things happen as last year? No, it’s going to be a little different. You want more success than just runner up, but you just have to work. It’s a work atmosphere here. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. Coach Reid, he’s doing an excellent job helping lead us with the everyday routine, our practice, our recovery time. All of the guys are doing a great job of helping us prepare for the season.”

Q: What is the energy like from Steve Spagnuolo and the assistants during OTAs?

CLARK: “I feel like they want to win. The leadership and the coaches, the mindset is just winning and competition and getting better. I feel like those are steps to where you want become as a franchise and specifically on defense.”

Q: You and Patrick Mahomes are two of the elite players in the league. How can you guys make each other better starting now?

CLARK: “We have to go at it in practice. I have to go at his O-lineman so he can get on them and he has to go at our defense so I can get on them. I feel like once we get that type of mentality in our locker room, the competition-based feel, I feel like that’s when we’re going to grow and become the best that we can be.”

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