OPENING STATEMENT: “These are your injuries: Donald Stephenson didn’t practice today, he had an ankle sprain. He got rolled up yesterday. Doesn’t look like it’s too bad, but it was swollen today. Sanders Commings is making progress with the foot strain. Junior Hemmingway, slight hamstring sprain he should be back here. We have the day off tomorrow, but he should be back the following day. Eric Kush has an ankle sprain. It’s just a matter of getting the swelling out of that thing. (Joe) McKnight is continuing with the knee and making progress. David Van Dyke has a slight hamstring there. Otis Hudson today, his lower back tightened up. DeMarcus Van Dyke, slight hamstring. (Phillip) Gaines he’s being evaluated right now. He banged his head a little bit, and we are just trying to take precautionary measures. I think he’ll probably be ok. We had some good work today, got to work some two minutes today live. The guys, I thought, did a nice job. It was one offense vs. two defense and then we flopped over and went one defense vs. two offense. And the threes went against the threes. We got 10 plus snaps with each group, so it was good work there. We’ll try to do that, we’ll try to break down the situations as we go and by the time we get to game time we should have them all in.”
Q: The tension was kind of palpable when the kickers were going at it one on one. Talk about that competition.
REID: “They are challenging each other. Both of them are good kickers. Today was a tie, I told them it was like the World Cup. We practiced for an hour and then they tied. It’s still exciting to watch though.”
Q: I know that you leave the personnel stuff to John Dorsey. But you said about a month or so ago, that you’re still optimistic that something will get done with Alex Smith. Are you keeping the same stance right now? Where are you at with that?
REID: “There’s communication going on. I told you before that is the important thing. Alex is a good football player and he’s great for this football team. We’re lucky to have him here. They are working through it, and we’ll see what happens. These things take time, you know how the game goes. Alex isn’t worried about it, and I’m not worried about it. We just go play.”
Q: Is there a potential for distraction if it doesn’t get done before the season?
REID: “I don’t think so. Alex, he’s been around and he knows how it works. So I don’t think so.”
Q: That’s quite a laundry list of guys that were out. Is that too many?
REID: “No, not at all. We got good work today. Guys will be coming back here quickly. That happens normally in the first few days then they get back into it. They’ll l be alright.”
Q: What did the San Diego game show you about Chase Daniel? What do you need to see from him to ensure that he sticks around?
REID: “He needs to keep being Chase Daniel. Keep being himself and playing the way he plays. He’s a competitive guy, and he makes plays. He did play well in the San Diego game, so he’s a good football player.”
Q: You say be Chase Daniel, that’s what? Intermediate passes? Make good decisions?
REID: “No, there’s no part of the offense that you hold back. He gets it all just like Alex has. He can make all the throws and he’s a good football player.”
Q: Sounds like you guys put a lot of stock in that San Diego game for guys that didn’t get to play a lot. Was that a pretty good evaluation point?
REID: “Well, yeah that and what we’ve seen. We’re not just putting it on that game. If what you’ve seen before that game transfers into the game, and they play four quarters with it, and it still comes out with that same picture then that’s a worthy evaluation tool. And give them an opportunity.”
Q: You are getting Ryan Harris a lot of work. What have you learned about him since he’s been around the past few days?
REID: “He’s a good solid player it looks like. We’ll see how he does with time. He’s had a couple injuries in his career so we’ll see how he does as works through this thing.”
Q: Other than Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson is he the only guy you’re comfortable with on the left side?
REID: “No, I would tell you that we could probably kick 71 (Jeff Allen) out there. And he could probably do a pretty good job too. He’s been working, you saw him working reps out there today.”
Q: You’ve talked about how you want to ingrain this mentality of finishing in the team. How have you approached that?
REID: “Well, we talk about (it). You hear the guys mention it on the field. They are working hard. It’s not just finish a series or a game, its finish every down the right way. Not that every play is going to be a perfect play. But you give it your best shot. Then you get back and you do the same thing. And you keep your attention to detail throughout this practice. These are long, so you keep your focus, that attention to detail, and your intensity level up. Then you rest when it’s over.”
Q: Phillip Gaines, since the pads have come on what have you seen from him and his development?
REID: “When he has been out here it’s been good. He’s had a couple bruises and been banged up a little bit. But he’s a smart kid and very talented too.”
LB DERRICK JOHNSON
Q: How do you think the illegal contact rule could affect you guys in coverage?
JOHNSON: “It’s too early to say. Preseason time, they’re going to test it out. Football is hard, regardless. When you have world class athletes out there running routes, it’s kind of hard not to put your hand on them for five yards. They’re going to make an emphasis on it, so it is what it is. You have to practice the new technique and get away with what we can.”
Q: What kind of impact will it make with the bigger emphasis this year on cracking down on rub routes and screens where they can only block one yard from the line of scrimmage?
JOHNSON: “It will help, big time. A lot of teams do that, and it’s smart by them. It’s illegal, but you can do it a certain way to beat man coverage. It’s pretty hard to cover.”
Q: Now it seems like the lead blocker has to wait on those plays, does that help you because you can sniff it out a little easier?
JOHNSON: “You can sniff it out a little easier and they won’t come into you so hard. They’ll make it more like they’re running a route even more. It’s going to work out for us, but being on defense, you’re behind the eight ball anyway. Whatever we get thrown at us, we just have to play.”
Q: You’ve had a revolving door next to you at inside linebacker the last few years, how is that having to have a new partner every year? What does Joe Mays bring?
JOHNSON: “Joe brings communication to the game, physicality to the game. He’s a very smart player. I know, being in this league 10 years, change is (imminent). Every year, there is going to be change. We don’t control what goes on upstairs. When a new guy comes in – old or new – we have to get him acclimated to the system. Every guy that’s come in, it hasn’t been a big problem.”
Q: The better at stopping the run the other inside linebacker is, the less he plays. If he does his job on first down, then it’s a passing situation.
JOHNSON: “That’s true, that’s a good thing. There are pros and cons to it. We want that mike linebacker to be a run stuffer. A guy that can line up everybody and be thick in the hole. We have a great defensive line, so having that extra guy that can hold his own; it’s going to be key for us this year.”
Q: How does having a day off tomorrow impact your preparation today?
JOHNSON: “It gets you through. Today, I was feeling my age a little bit early in practice, but I got through. It’s one of those things where, it doesn’t matter what motivates you during this time, you want to see results out there on the field. Everybody is getting evaluated. Whatever motivates you, that’s my (mindset) every day. When they blow that whistle, whatever motivates you, you better be running.”
Q: A lot of changes behind you in the secondary, does that change what you do up front?
JOHNSON: “The NFL is about change. Depending on personnel, you have a lot of young guys. There are opportunities to take some spots in the secondary that are open. Competition brings out the best in them. By the time the fourth preseason game (comes), I’m sure they will have a lot of evaluated tape and we’ll get the right guys in.”
Q: You’re 32, have you given any thought to how much time you want to keep doing this?
JOHNSON: “First of all, I’m 31 – I’ll be 32 soon. No, it hasn’t crossed my mind. I’ve been fortunate and blessed not to have a major injury. Every year, when I go back to work out with Jamaal (Charles) and all of these guys – if I can keep up with these guys, I can come back.”
Q: When you are in nickel coverage, it seems like Bob Sutton has you and Husain Abdullah probing the A-gap, is that an assigned blitz or do you just go if the opportunity is there?
JOHNSON: “We have different packages, I don’t want to tell everything, but we want to give the offensive linemen different looks. Even if we’re not coming at the time, it makes them talk, makes them think. When you think when you have Tamba (Hali) and Justin (Houston rushing) on the outside, it’s a second too late.”
LB JOE MAYS
Q: How has the weather been for camp?
MAYS: “You can’t ask for anything better than this. I was in Houston last year and it was hot, muggy. It was about 90 degrees at eight o’clock in the morning. This right here is awesome.”
Q: How will you utilize the day off?
MAYS: “Bubble bath. Bubble bath sounds nice, but I think I’m just going to try and relax, get off my feet, definitely hit the cold tub and try to spend as much time with my family as I can.”
Q: What’s it like to play with Derrick Johnson?
MAYS: “It’s been great so far. Me being able to pick his brain, seeing what he sees on the field, talking to him, communicating with him. It’s been great. He’s been just a big time play maker. Now, I’m trying to pick his brain so I can get the chance to be where he’s at. Doing things that he’s been doing on the field and bring my style of play to the team as well.”
Q: What are your observations from this defense so far?
MAYS: “Hungry. I knew that they were going to be that way especially how they lost that game last year in the playoffs. They were going to be hungry. It’s contagious. They brought that out onto the field and now me being a part of it, I feel like I was a part of that team last year. So now, I’m hungry as well. I want to come out, I want to be great. They want to be great. So, let’s do it together.”
Q: They dial up a lot of different things for different people. How do you think that could benefit you?
MAYS: “It can benefit a lot. You have so many great players on this defense from front to back. I think on offense, they kind of key in on those guys. It doesn’t matter if a guy like me, Allen Bailey, Mike DeVito, any of us go out there and can do great things for the defense as well.”
RB/ST DE’ANTHONY THOMAS
Q: How big is this playbook?
THOMAS: “It’s pretty interesting. Just going out there and just learning the plays. I am with a great group, I am with a great coach, and it is great being out there working hard with those guys.”
Q: Are you a running back? Do you care what people call you as long as they use you?
THOMAS: “No, I just feel like I am a contributor. Wherever the coach puts me, I just am going to go out there, work hard and make plays.”
Q: Are you surprised by how you measure up against these NFL players?
THOMAS: “Not at all. I know it is pretty interesting just going out there. I just like having fun and going out there and competing.”
Q: Has it been a tough adjustment at all putting on the pads?
THOMAS: “Not at all. I have been playing in pads all of my life so I am pretty much adapted to it pretty fast and now I am just ready to go.”
Q: Do you hope to contribute as a punt returner right away?
THOMAS: “Yeah, for sure. I just go out there and when it is time to catch returns, catch punts, I just go out there and catch them all.”
Q: What does it take to be a good punt returner?
THOMAS: “Just being focused, being patient, good footwork, and just locating that ball and looking it in all the way.”
Q: Do you have to have a special mentality when it comes to fielding punts with guys just flying at you?
THOMAS: “You just have to have confidence and be patient.”
Q: What is the best advice a veteran has given you?
THOMAS: “Just to take care of my body, take care of my body and just seeing those guys (and) how they carry themselves and how they take care of their bodies. I am just taking it all in and just staying focused and keep going out there and working hard.”
Q: How do you get through the heat?
THOMAS: “I think I average like at least 15 Gatorades a day so just keep drinking Gatorades and just keep going.”
Q: Does taking care of your body entail avoiding big hits?
THOMAS: “Not at all. Just ice baths and stuff like that. Getting in the ice, stuff like that.”
Q: How has the speed of practice compared to the college game for you?
THOMAS: “A lot of fast guys out there but I just go out there, be patient, be confident and just have fun.”
Q: Does it seem too fast at all?
THOMAS: “Not really. I am adapting to it pretty well and I just got to go out there and know my assignments.”
Q: Are you still catching up after being on your own during OTA’s?
THOMAS: “Yes, I had to catch up a lot and I am still catching up. But I am just going out there, whatever I can to contribute to this team.”
Q: What is it like learning from Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe?
THOMAS: “They are both motivators to me, just seeing those guys go out there and work hard. So I just want to be great just like those guys and go out there and just compete and work hard every day.”
Q: Is there anyone you make sure is on the field at all times when you go live in practice?
THOMAS: “Not at all. They always talk about my size but I feel like I have a big heart and I am not scared of anybody.”
CHAIRMAN & CEO CLARK HUNT
OPENING STATEMENT: “It’s great to be back in camp. The thing that struck me today and yesterday watching practice is that you can tell that we are in the second year with Andy and his coaching staff. Even though roughly half the team is new a lot of the guys know the drill. Like last year, I’m always impressed when Andy is running a practice by how efficient it is. There’s no wasted time, guys are running between drills, it’s very well organized. So I think it was a great day for us.”
Q: Is that what you look for when you come? Do you watch the coaching staff? What is Clark Hunt looking for?
HUNT: “Well, like everybody, like any fan it’s fun to watch the players play and compete against each other. And that’s one of the things we saw today was a lot of great competition. But I also keep an eye on the coaching staff and the rest of the football support staff, and how they are doing their job. As we’ve gone from regime to regime you can see differences and I think Andy’s camps are among the best I’ve ever seen.”
Q: Where are you guys at right now as far as deciding whether or not you want extend the deal with St. Joseph? Are you guys leaning towards a certain way?
HUNT: “I wouldn’t say at this point that we are leaning any way. We’ve enjoyed our time in St. Joe. The university has done a great job for us. Coach Reid really likes the setup we have here. Our deal with the university can potentially extend another five years on a year-to-year basis. It’s a decision that we will make after training camp. We will sit down as an organization, visit with the university and make a decision by the end of the year.”
Q: What are the factors that you’re looking for?
HUNT: “I think the football side is the most important. Does the football staff, the coaching staff, feel like they are able to have an effective camp? Be able to get done what they want to get done here? There are a lot of things that go into that, a lot of small details. Andy is, I think, well known for his attention to small detail and the university does a nice job with those small details. So I think there are a lot of positives in terms of staying here. But as I said it’s a decision we will make after training camp.”
Q: Is it safe to assume that the only other viable option is going home?
HUNT: “I don’t think that’s the only option. I know a lot of teams have made that decision to take training camp back to their permanent facilities. It’s not something that we’ve discussed at this point. I imagine that if we did make the decision to move, we’d look at all of our options.”
Q: Would you need to make a lot of changes to what you have back at home, in order to have a training camp there?
HUNT: “I don’t think that we’d need to make a lot of changes. That facility works very well for us in the spring and during the season. The one thing that we don’t have at Arrowhead, at the training complex, is a hotel or dorm rooms, and I think that’s a big advantage of a university set up.”
Q: Is there a deadline or a date, like December 1, January 1, or March 1 that you have to make a decision?
HUNT: “I would say that we want to make it by the end of the year…the end of the calendar year, I would put it in that time frame, yes.”
Q: How big of a factor is it just seeing this crowd come out day after day like this?
HUNT: “Well, that’s one of the great things about having training camp close to Kansas City; our fans can get up here. When we were in River Falls, we had a lot of fans make the trip but I don’t think we ever had 6,200 fans out, 100 percent of who were Chiefs fans there cheering the guys on. I think you heard Andy say how much he appreciates the fans and the lift that they give the players when they’re here and the guys are out there practicing, so that’s all a very big positive.”
Q: In Kansas City they have 62,000 fans.
HUNT: “Yes, potentially. I don’t think being an hour from Kansas City really hurts the audience at all.”
Q: You beat 6,200 up there [in River Falls] with the Vikings one time.
HUNT: “Yes, that’s right and Andy’s reference to this being a record - this is a record down here on the lower fields. We’ve had more when we’ve been in the stadium.”
Q: Did you go to the World Cup?
HUNT: “I did go to the World Cup.”
Q: How long were you there for?
HUNT: “I was there for about a week and a half.”
Q: Which part of the tournament?
HUNT: “The middle part of the tournament, I had a chance to see the U.S. play three of their four games, including the round of 16 game against Belgium. The team did great; it was a great experience, I think, for anybody who went down there to watch the tournament.”
Q: What do you think of this proposal here to bring the U.S. training center here to Kansas City?
HUNT: “Well, I think that’s great. Kudos to the ownership group at Sporting for everything that they’ve done with the team here, and they’ve done a great job in growing the fan base and growing the sport here in Kansas City, and I think it would be a great addition to bring the training center here.”
Q: Jamaal Charles’ contract extension – he indicated that the Chiefs came to him at some point and said ‘let’s try to get something done’; can you talk about what was important for the organization and being proactive there?
HUNT: “Well, clearly, Jamaal Charles is a special player; one of the greatest players already in his young career, in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. We had two years left on his existing deal – the structure of the contract gave us the opportunity to approach him and get an extension. It was good for both parties, and naturally, he was looking for an increase in compensation, which, we felt, based on his production, was warranted. We wanted to tie him down for another couple of years as a Kansas City Chief and hopefully he plays through the majority of his career as a Chief.”
Q: Justin Houston’s in a similar situation, most people think he’s outplayed his contract, where are you with that and what kind of priority is that for the Chiefs?
HUNT: “Justin Houston’s a great player and we’re glad to have him part of the Kansas City Chiefs, we’ll get to that at the right time. He does have one year left on his contract, like Alex Smith does. Both of those guys are important to the organization. We would anticipate that that process will follow due course here over the next six months or so.”
HEAD COACH ANDY REID
OPENING STATEMENT: “Let me throw the injuries at you real quick. We know about Sanders Commings, Joe McKnight, David Van Dyke and Rokevious (Watkins). Rokevious does have a disk in his lower back. They’re not going to treat it right now with surgery. They’re going to see if they can rehab him and get him back here. Today, Junior Hemingway and Eric Berry – Junior had a little spasm in his hamstring and then Eric dislocated one of his fingers. We’ll see how that goes with both of them. Joe Mays was in and out. Joe’s got a sore knee. He’s been in the league a long time, right? So we just work with that knee and make sure we monitor it. After I was going to do that, I was going to turn it over to the mayor and let him take it from here, but I’ll finish up here. Good first day. Listen, the fans were unbelievable. I think we were close and we were at record for here for having the most number of fans that they’ve had up here in St. Joe. We appreciate them and they kind of push you through that first day in pads where you get a little tired in those last couple of periods where things seem to slow down. The fans get you going and you roll. We appreciate that. I thought execution went back and forth, offense versus defense. There was some good snaps both ways and that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for competition; we had ones going against ones together today. I just thought it was a good tempo and good challenges and good competition.”
Q: First day in pads is like Christmas to you, isn’t it?
REID: “It’s all good. I’m not out there though. Right? I’m not out there. It’s important that these guys are feeling the same energy. That’s the important thing. They did that today. They came out and did a nice job I thought.”
Q: Is everything okay physically with Eric Fisher?
REID: “Eric Fisher’s okay. The guys that are coming off those surgeries like (Travis) Kelce, Hem (Hemingway), Mays we know about the knee, I’m missing one, but anyway there’s four of them that we are just keeping an eye on and making sure that we monitor reps with them.”
Q: What does Sean Smith have to do to go from secondary to the ones again?
REID: “We look at Sean as a first team player. We need all of those guys and we need two deep at the corner, but we feel like that two deep is equivalent to starting players. That’s where we’re looking.”
Q: Do you like what you’ve seen so far from Ron Parker?
REID: “All three of them have done a good job today.”
Q: Is not running Sean Smith with the ones totally a football thing?
REID: “It’s a football thing. Right now, it’s a football thing.”
Q: It has nothing to do with his DUI?
REID: “That’s not what we’re doing here.”
Q: What has Nico Johnson’s progression been?
REID: “Nico Johnson. Nico is making improvement. He came back in phenomenal shape, and he’s a big guy you’re looking at a big, strong linebacker and right now he’s better against the run than against the pass, but he’s working like crazy on the pass. You can see the strides that he’s made over the last year. It’s a good thing right here.”
Q: Sounds like he responded well to the offseason.
REID: “He did a nice job.”
Q: What about Eric Kush?
REID: “Eric, I think has made strides. He’s gotten a little heavier, stronger, he understands the offense better understands the load we put on the center position and he’s going to bring energy every day for us.”
Q: Does De’Anthony Thomas give you a lot of flexibility on the football field?
REID: “Yeah, you can move him all over. You just have to make sure you ease him into it. You can’t overload him, he’s a young guy. But so far he has handled everything we have done with him and we have moved him in a few different places.”
Q: How much value does Rodney Hudson possess on the offensive line with so many other moving parts?
REID: “Yeah, Rodney just gives you complete confidence that everything is taken care of in there. Not only is he telling guys when they need to pick up the pace to pick up the pace, but he’s also coaching them up about any transition that takes place with the defense and you’ve got to abort what you’ve got on and relocate the strength of the defense. He can handle all of that stuff and he’s doing it in seconds.”
Q: Can you talk about the skirmish that involved Rodney Hudson today?
REID: “A little skirmish – that happens. It’s hot, humid. They’re big guys. Boom. Get back in the huddle, let’s go. Don’t get a penalty.”
Q: Can you talk about the battle at right guard between Rishaw Johnson and Zach Fulton?
REID: “Yeah, both of them are relatively new to our offense. Rishaw obviously has a little bit more (familiarity). Rishaw really showed well down in San Diego in that game and so he is the one in that first starting position now and then they are rotating from there. I like both of them. We’ll see how it works out.”
Q: After the way you finished in the passing game last year, is that something that you can carry over from year-to-year? Or is that something you need to build back from scratch?
REID: “You’re not back from scratch. They have somewhat of a foundation and then you try to build on that foundation. You don’t abort the fundamentals that you’re teaching at that time. You keep strict to your fundamentals and disciplines and build on that in that second year.”
Q: What happened with Sean McGrath?
REID: “You asked me last time about McGrath. McGrath is going to retire. That’s what we’ve been told by him. And I wish him the best. He’s a good kid and it was a personal decision he made.”
Dear Kansas City,
Thank you. I grew up in front of you. You drafted me out of college and brought me home. You never turned your back on me while I learned the ins and outs of the professional game. You’ve provided the most loyal fans in MLS. You’ve made Sporting Park the best stadium in the country. You supported me with the U.S. National Team like I am one of your sons. You’ve reassured me that I am right where I belong.
There were many factors in deciding to re-sign long term with Sporting, but it starts and ends with the people of Kansas City.
On game day when I look around our stadium, it’s mostly a blur of Sporting blue. But sometimes, I make eye contact with a person for a split second, and realize it’s a friend. Sometimes I see family members and neighbors. I recognize teammates I used to play with, and rivals I used to play against. I see old teachers, coaches, and classmates. I see fans that started out as strangers, but are now friends.
It gives me chills knowing I get to play in front of all these people. It’s truly an honor. After the game when I walk around the field and see so many familiar faces, all I can do is smile. Believe me, I don’t take for granted the opportunity to play for you and our city.
I grew up idolizing many Kansas City sports figures. They were my heroes. When I first learned how to play baseball, I threw right-handed, but I started batting left-handed because that’s what George Brett did on TV. To this day, I do everything right-handed, except for swinging a bat.
Just as my idols were, I am blessed to play a professional sport, not to mention in my hometown. There are many times when I feel like I should pinch myself, but the most powerful moments are when a kid comes up to me and asks for an autograph. Usually, when I finish writing my signature, their face lights up and they say, “Thank you Mr. Besler.” But sometimes they say, “One day, I want to grow up and be just like you. You’re my hero.” If only they realized I was standing in their shoes 20 years ago.
I must thank the entire staff and the ownership group of Sporting Kansas City. There are hundreds of people who contribute to our success. Without a doubt, we have the best owners in professional sports. Their commitment and loyalty throughout this process is unmatched. Everyone should be excited at their vision and what we will accomplish together over the next five years. I am forever grateful that this organization is giving me the opportunity to play the prime of my career in my hometown.
Now it’s time to get back to work. I have remarkable teammates and we have a chance to do something special. More than ever, we are motivated to win championships.
Thank you, Kansas City.