Read what Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and George Karlaftis said after Chiefs mini-camp on Tuesday.
TE TRAVIS KELCE
Q: What’s the biggest memory you have from your rookie year training camp given that it was also Head Coach Andy Reid’s first training camp for the Chiefs?
KELCE: “Really that first training camp you don’t realize how many people are going to be out there. It felt like it was a game, you know? It was the excitement of people watching practice and stuff – I’m not used to that coming out of University of Cincinnati. Our training camp was in Higher Ground (Conference & Retreat Center) in the middle of Indiana, so we didn’t really have anybody at practice. It was kind of the dog days and just the fellas that were on the team, and then sure enough I come to KC and it’s a packed house, everybody out there (in) St. Joseph screaming, yelling (and) getting fired up during stretch. I’m just like, ‘Man this is a little different.’ You’re not as much in your head about the dog days and two-a-days like we had in college. Well, I guess we don’t do two-a-days anymore. So yeah, I would say the crowd is definitely what stands out the most.”
Q: Is your training any different now? How do you maintain this production?
KELCE: “I just love the game. I think that kind of keeps me living with a, I don’t know, a young, fun-loving football player. I get to play a game for a living at the age of 33, 34 and I think that’s something – you know, I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to lose that excitement that I had for a game when I was a kid. Every single day I get to come in with the best team, best players (and) best coaches in the world so it makes it easy to just come in here and just enjoy it. I would say just focus on a lot of the smaller things, the details of things and just try to make sure that everything as an athlete in terms of muscles and explosion and things like that, that everything’s firing so I don’t go out there and tweak my back like I did last week.”
Q: How much do you embrace the mentorship aspect of your career now?
KELCE: “Oh man, I love it, man. We got the best tight end room in the league right now and it’s fun to be a part of just the grand scheme of things in terms of this offense and what it can do but coming to work and being around the tight end group, man, we got a fun group that just loves to play this game and wants to make plays no matter how they got to do it. Whether we’re blocking, whether we’re catching the ball down field or just finding a way to get somebody else open. And that’s the beauty of the tight end position is we’re pretty selfless and whatever you need we can do. The young guys, the guys that are kind of like still getting molded into this offense that you’ll see this year – any bit of advice I can give to anybody – and that’s kind of across the league – I’ll give nuggets of gold over here at Tight End U coming up next week or what I think are nuggets of gold (laughter). And it’ll be – I’m here to try to get everybody to be at their best and still got that confidence that what we do over here is always going to be, you know, number one.”
Q: Last night you had a chance at redemption at throwing out a first pitch. What was that like to throw the first pitch at the Royals game?
KELCE: “I’ll tell you what, I got lucky. I did. I got lucky. I don’t know if you guys saw the left foot slide there a good foot. I think that actually helped it come back over the plate. I got lucky I didn’t fall on my tail and go viral yet again (laughter), for the wrong reason. Shout out to Bobby Witt (Jr), he kind of painted that corner for me and put it over the plate. Thanks to the Royals for letting me get a second chance and I’m sorry Cleveland! I’m so embarrassed to come back home now.”
RB CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE
Q: What was last year like after being injured for a portion of the season again?
EDWARDS-HELAIRE: “I would say, I wouldn’t even really say a rollercoaster. I would just say experiences, man. I wouldn’t even say it was some of the hardest things it was just – you go through something, you figure it out and just like my dad, him being in the Marines and kind of being a narcotics police officer, you hound in on the things as far as what you need to focus on and then you go at that. You can’t really, you know, shoot for the stars if you’re not aiming for the things in order to get to the stars. So you’ve got to go through some planets and other things in order to get to where you’re trying to go. There were some things, some trials and tribulations throughout that time but it was never just down and out. I was just doing the things I needed to do in the building (and) outside the building in order to get to the position that I am today as far as practicing.”
Q: What advice do you have for Isiah Pacheco as he heads into his second season?
EDWARDS-HELAIRE: “I would say things get slightly more difficult in the fact that people just watch a little bit more film. You have more film, it’s not like people (are) going and watching college film on you. But, even with that case it’s yeah, it gets a little difficult but he’s also learning. Like, this is not a place that you come in and it’s your first year and you’re rolling and then we just kind of, ‘ok he’s straight.’ We go in, we bounce things off of each other as far as the things that he may feel he needs to work on. Pop (Isiah Pacheco), Jet (Jerick McKinnon) and I – we have a group – the past I’d say, every week and a half I’d say, we probably hop on facetime on the weekend and it’s Pop just kind of telling us about this recovery, Jet kind of filling us in about some of the things but it’s also just us bouncing off and trying to figure out the things that we need to get done this upcoming year. Jet knowing like, ‘man, look, I’m the old guy in the room. Ya’ll going to have to kind of help your boy out through camp and all that other stuff.’ It’s us knowing that it’s a collect group. Like we know the things we have to do in order to be successful and that’s just one of those things. Pop knows that. Just with OTA’s we were laughing today, I’m like, ‘Man I don’t mind taking half as many reps in OTAs.’ We don’t have pads on, but you know, once camp comes, we’re going to need that three, four-headed monster. Because that’s just what it is because it’s a 17-game season and as we can tell, man, the running back position is not getting loved like it has been. So, the only thing we can do is kind of gel as a unit and move that way and try to be a powerhouse. He (Isiah Pacheco) knows that. Jet knows that and as a group we just want to continue to move forward.”
DE GEORGE KARLAFTIS
Q: Were you the one that reached out to Tamba Hali? Why did you decide to do that?
KARLAFTIS: “Yeah, during the offseason you have some time off, and you kind of get to thinking about different stuff and how you can improve going into your second year, going into the next year. I knew there were some Chiefs players and some guys that have been part of the organization that live in town, and I just reached out to him to get some knowledge, and it turned out to be a great relationship. He’s been a great mentor and a great person to me.”
Q: What were your conversations like with Frank Clark to say goodbye and what did he mean to you?
KARLAFTIS: “I love Frank. He meant the world to me. Everybody on this team was a part of him, great person. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. That’s just his business, but I love him. He taught me so much that I’ll not only take with me forward as a professional football player but also in life, too.”
Q: Are there any things you’re working on this offseason other than general improvement?
KARLAFTIS: “I think the general improvement is a big one. Really trying to focus on the little things, the mental aspect, the mental side of the game. You can never get too good at that, the details, fundamentals, and really getting bigger, faster, stronger. Trying to hit it from every angle.”
Q: How much better do you feel overall going into this year compared to your rookie season?
KARLAFTIS: “Playing 20 games, having that experience and being around guys like Chris (Jones), Frank and Carlos (Dunlap) and all the other guys in the room, that helps you out. I learned a lot this past season. I’m ready to take that with me going forward.”