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What We Learned From Wednesday's Media Availability

Andy Reid and Alex Smith spoke to the media on Wednesday


OPENING STATEMENT:"As far as injuries go, Chris Conley has a ruptured Achilles. Whatever we're doing with him we'll give it to you whenever we do it. (Laurent) Duvernay-Tardif still has a knee sprain and won't practice today, Justin (Houston) won't practice today with a calf spasm, but doing well. Travis (Kelce) is still in the protocol and doing very well with the concussion. Mitch (Morse) is making improvement with the foot sprain. Steven Terrell is in the protocol with a concussion. Then, Albert Wilson has a sprained knee, a small part on his knee, doing well, but they're not going to practice today. We look forward to the challenge of playing the Steelers. We know they're a good football team and we have to have a good week of practice, so we'll get started on that. We had our walkthrough this morning and we'll have a regular practice this afternoon."

Q: With the success that Alex (Smith) has had, some people have said in talking to him he seems a little bit more relaxed this year. Have you seen any kind of difference in the way he's carried himself?

REID:"I haven't, no. I'm around him a lot because I'm in the meeting room with him, all the meeting rooms with him, so I spend a lot of time with him and I haven't really seen a different person that way. He seems to go about his business the same way. I keep coming back to the fact that he's kind of helped raise these receivers. They've grown together and I think that would probably be the thing I think he feels most comfortable with right now is that group, if there was a difference."

Q: What do you think his comfort level is with Demarcus Robinson from what you've seen in practice?

REID:"I think he's comfortable with Demarcus. We worked Demarcus in with the ones at training camp, so they know each other. (Jehu) Chesson the same thing, he got a little work in there with the first group during camp. Not as much as what Demarcus did, but still he got enough in there too. It's a good group right there."

Q: What does it say about Alex's game right now that he can take bigger risks, but he also hasn't added any risk? No mistakes have been added to the increase in yardage or touchdowns, how has he been able to do that?

REID:"He's been able to keep his turnovers down. I would tell you traditionally that's where he's been in his career even before he got here. But your point about he is taking more shots down the field and his percentage is still low with the turnovers. He's kept that where it needs to be."

Q:How is the whole offense so different this year when you look back to the playoff game against Pittsburgh last year?

REID:"Well first of all they got after us. We had the first drive and we got after them on the first drive and then after that they did a good job against us. This will be a real good challenge for us offensively. We are doing some things that are different, not a bunch – I just think our execution, we didn't execute as well as we needed to last year and we'll see how we do. This is still a very good defensive football team. They've got a couple different guys in there, but for the most part it's the same group and they play hard and their pass numbers are ridiculous, their defense against the pass is ridiculous. I mean they are just shutting people down. We got our work cut out there."

Q: Do you see defenses are trying different things against you week-to-week now?

REID: "Last week we saw a couple different wrinkles. More in the run game stuff then in the pass game. Everybody has their own little flare they're doing, but last week the team did something different against our run stuff that had been pretty good for us."

Q: Feel for whether Albert Wilson will be ready for Sunday?

REID: "I think so. He's making progress every day. Feels a lot better than he did after the game. Felt better today than he did yesterday. We'll see, he's diligent about getting in there and working with Rick (Burkholder) and doing his thing. We'll just have to see how that all works out."

Q: Made a few plays with (Chris) Conley, do you have enough guys for that spot?

REID: "I think we'll be all right. We should be fine."

Q: Ben Roethlisberger made a comment after the game on Sunday that maybe he doesn't have it anymore, have you noticed anything with him now versus earlier in his career?

REID: "I think that was more just to back people off from the questions. We get hit with a couple questions and that can be the back off deal. I know that we have to play against a heck of a player, a future hall of fame player. We got to get ourselves ready, we don't think much about all those comments. We know what kind of player he is and we know we've got to get ourselves ready to play him. So that's where we're at."

Q: When you traded for Alex Smith in 2013 what did you and John Dorsey see that was still there?

REID:"Since both of us had followed him since college and liked him when he came out, I thought he would fit well into the system. (John) Dorsey was very familiar with the system that we were running and we both felt like he would be a nice fit for this. I think even way back when, when he came out, he had so many offensive coordinators over the years, he's probably done one of everything, more so than any other quarterback in this league. He's had to execute about one of everything that you could do offensively, he's done. But he's taken to this and done a nice job."

Q: Will Travis Kelce be able to get through concussion protocol?

REID: "I think he's doing well now, but I'm not the doctor here. I stay away from all that. They deal with all that stuff. We get the next guy up there and go. But he says he feels pretty good, I don't know how all that other stuff works. They do all that."

Q: What do you see from (Ryan) Shazier's development?

REID: "I appreciated getting to know the kid over the Pro Bowl. He's a good kid too and a heck of a football player. He's not a real big guy, but he plays so physical and he's so fast, he's got a great feel. He covers almost like Troy Polamalu, just did it at the level two instead of the backend. They just let him do some things to have a little freedom there to move and roam and read the quarterback. He does it very well. He's a heck of a football player, a good person too."

Q: Your kicker, has he exceeded your expectations?

REID: "He's a pretty cool guy. He's been thrown into the hopper here a little bit. Doesn't seem to phase him much, he's still new at it here. Up to this point he's been pretty good. I'd probably say yeah I didn't know what to expect necessarily other than we knew he was good at Georgia Tech and Brett (Veach) did all the homework on that, he deserves all the credit on that part. I mean he brought him here and said he was good and we believed him and put him in and here we are."


Q:Are you impressed with your ability to keep producing on offense even though guys keep going down?

SMITH:"I think for us, you're just in it and you keep going. I think you realize everyone has injuries at some point, everyone deals with those things. They are unfortunate when they happen. I think the culture we built up around here is you don't skip a beat and it's the next man up and we go. I think also a little bit, understanding every game is different. Not sure what they are going to try to take away or how they are going to combat us, but knowing we have answers built in. Being able to get to them and get to those things and find ways, even if we are not having success, make the adjustments to get to those things."

Q:What is your comfort level with Demarcus Robinson?

SMITH:"I feel really good about D-Rob. Obviously, we are bummed for Chris (Conley). I think it is an opportunity for Demarcus. I think he is ready. He has been sitting and watching and growing a lot. He has a ton of ability. So I am excited for him to get in and get an opportunity."

Q:How do you think the proposed rule change for standing during the anthem would go over in the locker room?

SMITH:"I have no idea. If it happens, it happens at this point. I feel like we have been dealing with this for a long time now. For me, I am just focused on ball. We will deal with that when it comes."

Q:Getting ready for this week, does it still sting from last year's playoff game?

SMITH:"Yeah, I mean, you watch it. Any time you play an opponent from the recent past, you are looking at that stuff. Certainly, when they have had success as well, are they going to repeat some of that stuff against us? How are they going to combat it? Certainly, I think we know that we are a different team at this point as well. So you kind of relish the opportunity. You definitely look at it. It definitely brings back a lot of missed opportunities."

Q:Overtime, do you have a sense of how, as a quarterback, it ages you?

SMITH:"Yeah, everyone's path is so different and individual. Everyone is different and everyone's style of play is different. Everybody's body is different, how they react. Everyone has a different routine and how they go about their business. It is just so hard to compare. But, certainly, it can have an effect. Everyone just deals with those things in different ways. Some better than others. Tom (Brady) is a great example. He is a guy that has played a long, long time. He has taken a lot of hits over the years, a lot of wear and tear. Through his routine and the way he goes about his business, his mindset, he seems to handle it pretty well."

Q:How do you look at a guy like Ben Roethlisberger that has obviously had a great career but is also struggling?

SMITH:"For me, it is hard to put too much stock in one game. I did get to see a little bit of that game because it was one before ours. There are also a lot of plays in that game that he did make in that game. A lot of production. Certainly, the turnovers hurt you. A couple of the picks, one of them falling down. So I know he was frustrated in the moment, I know he said this and it is easy to make too much of it. I think he is still playing at a pretty good level from afar."

Q:I know you used to look at your stats and quarterback rating, now would be a pretty good time to look at that.

SMITH:"I think the outside talk, as much as you try to ignore it, you try to ignore the good and the bad. All these Week 5 power rankings, all this talk, we are in the middle of the season. There are a lot of games left. A lot of ball to be played. I think anytime you stop and reflect on that and are feeling good, that's probably not a sign of what is to come. For us, it is a little bit more about the path we are on, the direction we are heading and the bigger goal. Keeping our eye on that and knowing the only way to get there is out of a sense of urgency about how you go about your business."

Q:Do you feel like defenses are changing a little bit against you guys?

SMITH:"Yeah, every week defenses are trying to do something to take you away. That is always the case. What it is that they are trying, I have no idea. It is hard to always infer off the film what their goal is or what their intentions were. They rarely announce those things. It is hard to always tell. The goal is to be really balanced. You want to have a lot of guys that produce. You want to be doing it in a lot of different ways, so you can't be one-dimensional and can't shut you down that easily."

Q:How big is it for you to convert on those third-and-longs?

SMITH:"Those are big momentum plays. I think that anytime the defense gets you in third-and-long, the advantage is for sure in their favor. Anytime you can convert those, those are big momentum plays if you can capitalize. I think, obviously last week, we did a good job on third down. It started with our guys up front, giving us time to execute those plays down field."

Q:How did your San Francisco days help you in the long run?

SMITH:"Everybody's past is different. For me, coming in, there were a lot of expectations and going through the process of dealing with those as a player is different for everybody. Certainly for me, it was tough early. It carried a lot of weight when I played and it took a while to shrug that off. It was a process. And I am not sure I would be where I am if I didn't go through it, as frustrating as it was."

Q:Does it help you appreciate now more?

SMITH:"I think it is just a different mindset of going and playing ball and not having the anxiety of that. And the confidence in your teammates and yourself to just go out and play your game and to know that that is good enough, yeah."

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