HEAD COACH ANDY REID
OPENING STATEMENT:"Alright, as far as the injuries go, Tamba (Hali) will not practice today. Justin (Houston) will not practice today, more precautionary measures than anything. (Laurent Duvernay) Tardif and Mitch Morse still have not passed the concussion protocol, so they will not practice today. Jeremy (Maclin) has got the ankle sprain, so he won't practice today, although he's making good progress day-to-day. Spencer Ware came in with an ankle sprain too, so again, he is not going to go today, but he's making progress from yesterday to today. Other than that, everybody is getting ready to roll. Look forward to the challenge of playing New England. We know they're the World Champions and we're going to prepare ourselves to play a great football team, and that starts today. Our guys will have a good week of practice. Time's yours."
Q: How relieved were you when you found out Maclin's injury wasn't the worst possible case?
REID:"I was happy for the kid, you know, that's a tough deal. I've got to tell you, it looked the part. He felt like there was, you know he's been through a couple of those before, so he thought that was what it was. It looked that way on the test, but it all worked out. As we made our way back, he didn't have any swelling in it. The docs and Jeremy all started going, whoa, maybe it's something different. The pain started to go down more towards the ankle, so positive thing."
Q: Is Jeremy the kind of player you feel comfortable with going a week not practicing and still feel comfortable with him playing?
REID:"Yeah. No, he could do that. He might not have to do that, but he could do that."
Q: Is it specifically a high-ankle sprain?
REID:"Yeah, it's a mild high-ankle sprain."
Q: With Tamba Hali, how much did the turf in Houston have to do with the number of snaps he saw, and what will it mean going into New England?
REID:"Yeah, we'll just see how it goes, how he's feeling and work it from there. He wants to play, that's not the situation. We'll just see how the third down situations go, or if we decide to play him on first or second downs, it all depends on how his knee is rolling there."
Q: How do you feel about your depth at wide receiver if Jeremy can't play on Saturday?
REID:"I think we're going to be okay. I'm not worried about it."
Q: Not just the guys you have, but do you have enough bodies there to get through a game? Four guys enough?
REID:"Yeah, we should be okay. Yeah, should be alright."
Q: Do you have to have backup plans in case any strange things come up, when it comes to headset communication or any sort of weird stuff?
REID:"Listen, I don't worry about all that stuff. I don't get into all that. I've played over there so many times and we used to play up there every year in the preseason, during the season. I mean, sometimes there's a problem. When I was in Green Bay, we had a problem with it there. We had it at home, and the away team had it. Played New York, it was the same way both sides, and sometimes that stuff happens. We've just got to get ready to play a good football team."
Q: What have your previous experiences been like at Gillette Stadium?
REID:"They've been good. I haven't had any issues there. I mean, I've heard of things happening, but I haven't had any of those problems."
Q: Nothing's different this week, then?
REID:"No, we go play. You go play. You worry about all that, that's not how you win the game, right? You concentrate on getting better at your fundamentals, techniques and those great players you've got to play against. All that other stuff—distraction."
Q: On Marcus Peters' ability to play like a seasoned veteran in the playoffs.
REID:"He's a competitive kid. He's got it pretty well-focused down to, 'I've got to win that battle against that guy each play, and there are certain things I have to do.' It starts in his preparation each week, he's willing to do that. He comes out, he practices, prepares himself that way, and then when he gets in the game, he challenges. If he gets beat, he has a short memory. That's how he rolls. He keeps it pretty simple, doesn't complicate it a lot."
Q: Of all the guys you coach against, does Belichick have a better ability to be creative offensively?
REID:"He's a Hall of Fame football coach. When it's all said and done, that's where he's going to be. He does a heck of a job. He could coach either side of the ball, he's good all the way around. Special teams, he's done that. Good football coach.
Q: Does he have an ability to adapt?
REID:"Yeah, he does a great job of that. You don't win as many games as he does without being able to adapt."
Q: With five guys having started at multiple positions on the offensive line, what does it say about the job Andy Heck and Eugene Chung have done?
REID:"I give a lot of credit to them. And then, you take the run game and add it in there, too. Andy Heck does the run game. So, between he and Eugene, as far as coaching, your question there, coaching the techniques and fundamentals, they do as well as anybody. There's another side to that, and that's putting your guys in good positions. They do that too."
Q: What led to your decision to giving Demetrius Harris a three-year extension last week?
REID:"That's who you need to ask (John Dorsey). I probably knew at the same time you did. I was happy for the kid, though. He's a good football player, and he's going to do nothing but get better. Every year, he's made improvements, going to continue to do that. Loves to play. Been a good addition."
Q: Considering the injuries the Patriots have had on the offense, do you think this has been one of Tom Brady's greatest years?
REID:"He's had a lot of great years. He's another one that's a future Hall of Famer. It looks like he's going to get some of those guys back. I'm sure he's happy about that. He's done it with all different types of receivers. Great player. That's what they do."
Q: What led to the decision with captains, and will the captains from last week's game be your permanent captains throughout the postseason? Where did you pick up that system?
REID:"Yeah. Mike Holmgren did it that way, and I liked it. It gave everybody else an opportunity to be a captain throughout the year. It gave the team an opportunity in the playoffs to pick six captains—two on offense, two on defense, two on special teams—that will represent us throughout the whole tourney here, so that's how it rolls."
Q: Daniel Sorensen was one of your special teams guys, what have you seen in him the last two years that would make you feel comfortable giving him that designation?
REID:"He went to the right school (laughing). He's a good football player. Good football player, continues to improve not only as a special teamer, but also as a defensive back."
Q: Going back to 2011's labor agreement, there have been limitations on how much players can practice, yet there has been no effect on injuries. Does that surprise you?
REID:"I once knew a boxer in Philadelphia—boxing was big in Philadelphia—so I talked to this long-time boxer, and he says, "listen, if you don't practice being a boxer, you are probably going to get hurt.' I always thought about that with football. That's why we tackle during camp and do the things you do to play football. I thought when the restrictions were put out, probably there wouldn't be a lot of change. I still think you have to block, you have to tackle and do those things that are important to the game."
Q: How encouraging is it that you were able to score in the second half of the Texans game, being that most of this season, you've scored in the first half of the game?
REID:"We got stalled in a couple games in the second half. Kind of shot ourselves in the foot on a couple of those games, so that was a good thing to see. You want to score every drive, right? I mean, that's the objective. To be able to do that in the second half, I thought, was a good thing, positive thing."
Q: As the team has advanced to this level, have you had to adjust the team's mindset of the stakes, or is it just another game?
REID:"Don't worry about winning. Concentrate on your fundamentals. Those things, you can control, fundamentals and techniques, start it right here today and do it fast and furious. Do it again tomorrow. Make sure you learn the game plan. That's what you can control. All the other stuff, don't worry about that."
Q: How did Justin Houston's body respond to the game last week?
REID:"He did good. He, actually the brace gave him more positives—it was getting the right tension on it. Bruised up his leg a little bit, but that's just getting used to it. It's not that big of a deal. I thought he did a good job, first time out in six weeks or so. I thought he did a pretty good job there. Is he a little sore? Yeah, he's a little sore from playing but it's not the knee. That's a good thing."
Q: How do you feel now about Alex Smith's ability to go into a game against a good opponent?
REID:"I think he's top notch. For what we want to do offensively, he's phenomenal. He's got the whole package. Very, very intelligent, he's got a good arm, great leadership ability with his teammates. He gets it. He knows how to do this thing."
QB ALEX SMITH
Q:How excited are you for the game on Saturday?
SMITH: "Yeah, we're still here. This is what you talked about all last week, was 'let's not make this the last week.' You want to be here getting ready for the next challenge. The mentality doesn't change, it's 'there is no tomorrow,' it's win or go home and it's what you want - that's why you're playing the game."
Q:How has Chris Conley's game evolved?
SMITH: "Yeah, I think it's tough as a young guy – you're only getting limited reps this time of year and at his position you're not getting all of those. You mix in here and there and a lot of that has to get done mentally, get done on the side kind of visualizing things and working through things and talking and walking them. And sometimes that can be hard as a young player and I think it's just understanding that, being prepared for all of those scenarios and knowing all of that stuff. Obviously, he's incredibly smart and I just think you get good at understanding how to prepare for these games and what a week of preparation looks like and I think he's done a good job of that all year."
Q:What does his touchdown catch say about your trust in him?
SMITH: "Actually, it was a little different than we talked all week. I thought he made a great adjustment and a heck of a catch, strong-hand catch there in the end zone. If that ball moves at all now they rule those incompletions and he was really strong with it and securing it."
Q:Is there more pressure to score against New England or will you just continue to play your game?
SMITH: "Yeah, you're always trying to score. Every time you get the football you're trying to go out there and score. For us, we're getting ready to play their defense, we're not playing their offense. No, so I don't think the mentality changes at all."
Q:If Jeremy Maclin is limited or unavailable, how creative do you have to get on offense?
SMITH: "I don't know as far as creative. Next guy up and we've all got to step our game up, it's not on any one person. We've all got to find a way to get it done."
Q:What enabled Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware to be able to step into the offense so easily?
SMITH: "Ultimately, it comes down to those two guys. I think not only physically, their talents, but mentally, being prepared. That's probably the biggest factor. Obviously, I think everybody knew it was a big deal when Jamaal (Charles) went down and rightfully so. But Charcandrick (West) was not even blinking when he got his opportunity and staying ready and then jumping in and going. And then, yeah, obviously making the plays. Ultimately, coming down to that – making the plays in the game and then building off of that, getting the confidence that you know you can do it at this level."
Q:How does Andy Reid take advantage of what Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware do best as he has been able to do with you?
SMITH: "Yeah, I don't think that's only with me, I think that's with all of us – they do a great job of seeing our strengths and trying to put us in those situations and put us in good situations, absolutely."
Q:Do you ever hear Eric Bieniemy yelling at the running backs?
SMITH: "Yeah, you can't help but hear EB. That's just the way he coaches, it's hard. But yeah, you know – and all of us and then I think certainly, strength we all do – all of the coaches included and all of the guys here being on the same page. There's so much carryover, obviously we do a lot of work with the backs, whether it be ball handling, routes, protection and all of that stuff, so we've got to know what they're getting taught and vice versa. Certainly, I think a strength is kind of open communication, everybody being on the same page."
Q:What do you take away from last year's game against the Patriots?
SMITH: "I think that's been talked about a lot. Both sides are looking at it and it was a long time ago, a lot has happened in between then. Yeah, some of the guys are the same, some aren't. I'm sure there's the chess match of adjustments off of it, both sides and what are they going to do? That's always going to be there so yeah, you look at it and it's there but at the same time, like I said, there's been a ton of football since then. They've changed, we've changed. They've had two weeks, do they have new stuff? All of that's there and that's always going to be there a little bit. Both sides are going to have to be ready for anything."
Q:Do you feel like the Patriots show you more new things come game time as opposed to other teams?
SMITH: "I think just even watching film you can see that. They're so multiple, they have a lot of different personnel, they've played every different front and coverage there is. You can tell how well-coached they are that they can do all of that, that they're that multiple and those guys can all handle it. Yeah, and you can see that it changes week to week. They certainly have game plans and what they're trying to take away and who they're trying to take away, strengths of your team and that changes week to week. And then depending on what front they're in, coverages they're playing, leverage, things like that. So they make you prepare for a lot, absolutely."
Q:How were you guys able to overcome that last year?
SMITH: "Yeah, to a certain extent it's you going out and executing your plays. You've got to go out and make them work and be ready for it all, prepare for it all – prepare for a lot, and they require you to do that."
Q:How much more important is Travis Kelce to the offense?
SMITH: "I don't think it's just Travis, like I said, I think it's everybody. We'll see as the week goes on but certainly, if you lose a guy like (Jeremy Maclin), we all have to step it up."
Q:How impressed have you been with the offensive line considering all of the changes?
SMITH: "Yeah, I think certainly, yeah, that's been a strength of ours here in the second half of the season and is really a huge part of why we're even here. It's part of the game – those guys at such a physical position, those guys end up getting hurt. But having the depth that we have and all of those guys playing and being able to move around and play different positions and they've all done it and played at a high level I think says a lot. Moving Jah (Reid) in there this last week and having him play the way he did and our group as a unit against a really good front certainly was a huge reason why we ended up winning the game."
Q:On Zach Fulton:
SMITH: "I think exactly that, just those guys paying attention to the details and being ready for all of that. Being ready to move around, it's part of the game here with the limited roster and you're only dressing seven guys, those guys have to be ready to play multiple positions. Zach's obviously a great example of that, being able to move around; Mitch (Morse) goes down and he jumps in at center and does a great job for us."
Q:Do you ever wonder what it's like to be involved in so many playoff games like Tom Brady has been throughout his career?
SMITH: "To be honest, I haven't given it a ton of thought. Certainly, I think I did see it was like his 30th postseason start and obviously that's a big, big number. I think he leads every quarterback category there is in the postseason, including touchdowns and wins and things like that. So yeah, everybody's chasing. And to be doing it as long as he has, it's tough to put into words."
LB DERRICK JOHNSON
Q:As the guy who's been here the longest, is that any kind of burden to get off your back to finally win your first playoff game?
JOHNSON: "I wouldn't say it's a burden. It's something that's a sense of urgency that you want to do when you have a chance to do it. I've been to the playoffs four times, it took me 11 years to get one playoff win. But I'll tell you what, it's been worth it. Something about this team is very special. We're just seizing the moment. There were a lot of high-fives after the game – not any hugs yet because we're saving that for the end."
Q:During some down years, were there times when you felt like a playoff win wasn't going to happen for you?
JOHNSON: "No, I never go into a season or offseason with that mindset. That's why you strap on the pads, because you have that confidence, that belief knowing that my team can win it all. Every year is an optimistic year, but this year we're just seizing the moment, doing the little things right – it's more of a reality this year."
Q:So you know what Tony Gonzalez finally felt like?
JOHNSON: "Yeah, that's a hard deal. Tony's one of the best tight ends to ever play the game and he fell into that trap. That doesn't take anything away from him, just unfortunate."
Q:With all the injuries New England has had, has this been Tom Brady's most impressive performance?
JOHNSON: "He's pretty consistent each year, regardless of if he has players doing it on the outside or the inside. It goes through Brady, he's the guy."
Q:Is Tom Brady the best quarterback you've faced?
JOHNSON: "He ranks up at the top, for sure and arguably, he's probably the best. He's playing at a high level once again, he's an older player and at the same time, you could play tight coverage, but he's still going to stick it in there. We're going to have tight coverages, but we're going to have to make a play at some point in the game."
Q:Did you hear from any of the guys who couldn't win a playoff game when they were here, Gonzalez, Trent Green, Brian Waters?
JOHNSON: "No. I played with those guys, so we were in it together. But no, I haven't talked to anybody. I was dealing with it myself. It's one of those things where this is why you strap on the pads, to win it all. Even though I got my first playoff win, there's more to be done."
Q:What do you mean when you say you're dealing with it yourself?
JOHNSON: "Going into the offseason, regretting certain stuff or saying 'man, I wish I could have done this or I wish we would have won this game.' Right now, I don't have that mindset because we're still in it."
Q:When you're watching tape of Brady, is he one of those guys who you stop the tape because you're shocked by what he just did?
JOHNSON: "Yeah, I was watching a play today – I don't know who they were playing – but one of the running backs did a wheel route, perfect coverage by the linebacker – inside leverage, pushing to the sideline – and he just threw him open. It was just a perfect ball. Great coverage, even greater throw. That's what we're going to have to deal with on Saturday. If you want to do anything great, you have to beat one of the great ones."
Q:So it's more of an execution thing as opposed to how he reads defenses and play-calling?
JOHNSON: "It's definitely execution. If you give him something, he's going to take it. He's not throwing tight coverages every time. We have to be on our Ps and Qs the whole game, we can't give him anything. When that happens, he's going to find an open guy. The great ones like that, you have to make them work for it."
Q:Do you expect Gillette Stadium to present any unique challenges?
JOHNSON: "The stadium is going to be loud, it's going to be a hostile environment. They don't lose much up there, we know that, tradition-wise. We're going into a pit fight – we'll be ready though."
Q:Is there anything you can take from the 2014 game against the Patriots?
JOHNSON: "The confidence knowing that we did beat the Patriots. But that was last year – I was sitting in the stands – that was a great game, we were hitting on all cylinders. So hopefully we can have some of that luck fold over to this year. Again, we're going to have to do the little things right to give ourselves a chance to win. This is going to come down to the fourth quarter."
Q:Was there anything extra special after the win between you and Mike DeVito?
JOHNSON: "Before the game, they had both of our lockers together. Usually, (he's) by defensive linemen, but somehow I got paired lockers with Mike DeVito. It's a special moment, everything we've been through the last year, just sitting in the stands watching the team go through ups and downs and we just couldn't wait to get back and help our team win. And after the game, we gave each other big man hugs."
Q:What were your initial impressions of Andy Reid when he was hired?
JOHNSON: "Andy Reid's one of the best coaches ever. His confidence and his standard of play bleeds through the whole team. When he first got hired here, that was a good look. Everybody respects Andy, he's a proven coach in this league, and we were blessed to have him a few years ago."
Q:How has he been able to change the culture?
JOHNSON: "Each year is different. You go through ups and downs on the field and off the field and we definitely have been though that being in this Chiefs organization. We're tough-minded here, tough character and it's coming out now."
Q:You mentioned high fives, but no hugs yet. Is that a veteran mentality?
JOHNSON: "Yeah, definitely. We have a lot of veteran leadership on this team. Don't get me wrong, we are celebrating the playoff win, the high fives and smiles and all that. But at the same time, we know the main mission."
OL JEFF ALLEN
Q:Is it remarkable at all what you guys have been able to achieve as an offensive line with the guys going in and coming out of the lineup?
ALLEN: "I would say so. I would say it's pretty rare to have as many guys as we have that are versatile, that are able to switch spots and able to get the job done."
Q:What's been your biggest challenge this year?
ALLEN: "Just being consistent for the entire group. Coming out each and every week and putting our best foot forward. That's what you want to do with championship teams."
Q:For somebody who hasn't played those positions, how difficult is it for offensive linemen to play different positions?
ALLEN: "It presents a challenge, especially switching a total position – going from guard to tackle – because they're two different monsters. On the outside, you have more athletic guys; inside, you have bigger, stronger guys, the fight starts sooner. And also switching sides is a challenge. But we have a lot of guys that can do it."
Q:Did you have any snaps in practice at tackle?
ALLEN: "No, I didn't."
Q:How much have you seen Eric Fisher develop an edge?
ALLEN: "I've seen him grow a lot as a player, mentally and physically. He's definitely becoming more edgy. I wouldn't say he's becoming more tough, he's always been tough. As you grow and you get older, you play fast and that comes along with it."
Q:On Saturday, did you notice the camera was focused on Fisher and he was getting booed?
ALLEN: "I noticed it. I actually liked it. I saw the play and a lot of people were saying it's dirty – I didn't think it was dirty. I think he was just finishing the play. (J.J.) Watt's a great player and he makes a lot of plays by giving that extra effort. And if you're not giving extra effort, he's going to beat you. I liked it."
Q:Is it fair to say he has a mean streak that he didn't have when he first came to the Chiefs?
ALLEN: "I don't know. I do think he's developing that a little more. I think he's always had it in him."
Q:How far have you seen Zach Fulton come?
ALLEN: "I think he's given more to this group, more than any of us. Playing center, that's a tough role. Mitch (Morse) has done a great job for us in there. For someone who wasn't a center from day one, to come in and get all of us on the same page, that's big time."
Q:You seem like you play with that edge, is that something you want guys around you to feel from you?
ALLEN: "Yeah, I want it to permeate throughout the group. I come out each and every week with that attitude that I'm going to win. And that's what I want each one of us to have. A winner's attitude."
Q:How do you approach the game now that the stakes are higher?
ALLEN: "You just have to keep everything the same. We understand what's at stake, we understand it's a big time game and it's going to be a big time atmosphere. We just have to do our best to try to keep it the same. We've been taking it one week at a time the entire season and it's been working for us and we have to keep our same approach."
Q:Could you talk about how to adapt without having Jamaal Charles? ALLEN: "I think our running game changed a little bit with Jamaal out. He's such a special guy that he can do some things that others can't. Charcandrick (West), Spencer (Ware), Knile (Davis), they've all done it a great job. No matter who's back there, we're going to do our job and they're going to do theirs and they're going to make us look great."