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Transcript - Practice (Sept. 6, 2018)

Thursday, September 6, 2018 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On TE Antonio Gates:

"You know, he ran around. He looked fine. Still not quite sure what type he's in. Today's he's going to get more reps and we'll have a better idea after today's practice."

On DE Joey Bosa:

"He was limited yesterday and we'll see. I mean, Joey — he'll be ready when he's ready."

On Bosa's availability for Sunday:

"It's a possibility he might not be with us, you know. We're hopeful, but it's possible."

On the length of Bosa's recovery:

"Foot injuries, they take on all the body weight. That can be tricky — something you don't want to rush. You want to make sure that's right before a player comes back."

On if Gates can take a hit from an NFL defender:

"We'll hit him today. We'll find out."

On Gates embracing practice:

"It's like he's never left, actually. Yesterday, he was running around with the guys and it was like — I hadn't seen this guy since January — but it's like he never left, to be honest with you. He fits right in."

On if he was surprised at Gates' ability in practice:

"I shouldn't say surprised. I was glad to see him getting in and out of cuts, but I wasn't surprised."

On carrying over the culture from last season:

"Well, at this point I'm tired of talking about it. Hopefully I can show you on Sunday — and we're going to find out one way or the other. That's what makes this week so great. We get to open up with the division champs and we get to see exactly where we are as a football team — culture and everything."

On S Derwin James:

"He looks good in practice. It's a little different for the rookies because now we're game-plan specific and they have to learn a lot in a couple days. So, some of those guys were a little slow yesterday, but you expect those guys to get better each and every day."

On what he's expecting from James this Sunday:

"He has to show up and make plays. That's what he did in preseason. He had an excellent camp. He's going to have plenty of opportunities."

On James having multiple responsibilities:

"He played that open side-in in college. So that's kind of natural to him. He didn't play the open side-in for us. We put him on the other side where his biggest learning curve is at linebacker. He's at the huddle position, which some people call the Sam linebacker, that's the biggest curve and I think he's handled that well."

On how Gates allows the offense to expand the playbook:

"Having him back for two days, it doesn't do a whole lot right now. We're going in with our normal game plan [whether] Antonio is playing or not. So, with [TE] Virgil [Green] and [TE] Sean Culkin, [we] have a lot of confidence in those two and what they can do. We're just going to see if Antonio can help add to that this week."

On what he expects carries to be for RB Melvin Gordon III and RB Austin Ekeler:

"You never know. It depends on the flow of the game. If it's one of those games where we're running the ball quite a bit, we'll get more carries. If it's one of those games where we're throwing it, I love Melvin as a wide receiver — he was second on our team last year on receptions — Melvin will probably stay in the game more and we definitely have a role for Austin."

On Ekeler potentially being more of an impact player this season:

"You can say that, but there's still only one football and there are a lot of guys that earned the right to touch it. I just hope he can make the plays that he can make when we call his number."

On his trust in Ekeler:

"I do trust him, no doubt about it. I started trusting him more last year. [He was] a guy coming in here, earning the job on this team the way he did through special teams and how he played throughout the preseason, he definitely earned all of our trust."


Opening Statement:

"It's an exciting week for all of us with the players getting back. We got down to 53 [men on the roster] and really focused our attention in on Kansas City. They're a very potent offense when you look at them — the skill set they have, the speed they have on offense, the running back, the offensive line, the tight ends position. So it's a very challenging week for us. We've had the ability last year, going with our system, you know, in the offseason, to take a look at them, but it's a really good task. The quarterback [Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes], I think he has a chance to be really good. I think if you look at the history of [Chiefs Head] Coach [Andy] Reid's offenses, the quarterbacks have really thrived in it. His [Reid's] system, I think, fits his [Mahomes'] skill set very well. Like I said, we're looking forward to the opportunity."

On scouting Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes:

"You look at it, you always — you go back to college. I find preseason and the Denver game [he started last year]. You look at his decision-making and how he operates — and is he a guy that takes off on a run, can he extend plays? How does he handle different looks? So you go back to college. You look at his preseason games, that Denver game, any film you can get your hands on."

On finding relevant film on Mahomes:

"It is challenging. I wouldn't say all the staff members are doing it. I think, for me in the offseason and during camp there are be times you just watch a game, check him out and then maybe pull some clips out. Then, maybe put together a cut-up of his style and what he looks like. The coaches and players may look at."

On CB Trevor Williams:

"Well, I mean, he's a guy that's been proven to us. He's a guy that's played really well for us last year and understands what we're looking for. You like to have guys practice all the time and play, but I think with him, he understands it. Now it's just a matter of conditioning and getting back in the routine of things, but fortunately we've had him this week."

On Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill:

"It's like a punt returner [with his speed] every time he touches the ball because when he has a chance to operate in space, he's very dangerous. He can take the top off the defense. There are so many ways that he can attack you. They try to give him the ball as much as possible in those situations. So you have to have great awareness where he is, but they have so many skilled players that you could be looking at the whole formation and see a good skill set."

On the lowering the helmet rule:

"Yeah, it's been challenging. You know the great thing about it is the NFL officials have been in our building multiple times for our practices with the Saints and then they had another three days with us, and then OTAs. So we utilize that time to have them come in there in meetings — especially with the coaches — and we would show them cutups of plays, just to try to help us understand the rule. So I think we have a better understanding. I think there's still some [where you go], 'Really, that's a penalty?' Some questions like that that are in there, but they've done a really good job helping us kind of facilitate through this."

On a change in mindset heading into the regular season:

"Well, I think we tell them the same thing. We haven't told them, 'Hey now it's in the regular season, you might be able to get away with this.' We haven't had that conversation with them at all. It's more that we've been really teaching the techniques all the way through — really all through last year we taught them. I think we emphasized it more in OTAs and even the hits on the quarterback — how to hit a quarterback and those things. So we've just kind of continued that same mindset regardless of if it's preseason or regular season."

On paying attention to an officiating crew's history:

"You do in [their] past, but it's such — preseason is really how many of these will this team call? You might look at the stats in the preseason, but I think it's more about us. We know if we have our head up and we tackle the way we've been talking about since OTAs and last year, we'll be in good shape, you know? Let's not put [ourselves] it in a position where we have to leave it the officials to make a call."

On RB Kareem Hunt:

"He's challenging because he can, in tight quarters, make plays. The way their system operates, he has a lot of opportunity to have some runs in the open field and that's where it's challenging with some of these RPOs that they're doing. So, I mean, he's a very talented back, but it is a challenge because the weapons they have on the perimeter and his style of run. So we had to have a plan as far as tackling for him. He's a guy that — I think he's one of the top running backs in the league for yards after contact. He's strong, fast and he has the ability — we saw it last year — where he can break it at any time."

On practice squad WR Dylan Cantrell's history with Mahomes:

"That's a good — I should be talking to Dylan. I didn't know that part. I talked to everybody else. I think what we see on tape, you know — I think we mostly go by that. The NFL is such a different game and some of the things that they're asked to do aren't the same things they ask them to do in college. When we watch college or some of the preseason games, things like that, it's just more his style of play. Is he [Hall of Fame QB] Brett Favre? Is he a guy that will lose the pocket and tries to extend the play or looking to run? [Washington QB] Alex Smith would take off try to get yardage on his feet, where Patrick is a guy that will more extend the play and look downfield. It's more those things we're trying to find about them."

On the defensive rookies in game planning meetings:

"I think it's a big difference. They're getting a lot of information. Our coaching staff — I say coaching staff, I'm talking about our other assistant coaches — they do a great job. We have a lot of information, but [they have] the ability to pare it down and not overload our players. We always tell our players we will put in things. We will put in adjustments, but never at the extent that where we lose playing fast. So I think you have to kind of watch those guys and make sure that you're not overloading them, especially this early in the season."

On his goals for the rookies:

"Really, just that they play fast. You know, like now they're getting this information, but they'll trust that by the time we get to Sunday, hopefully they're not thinking and just reacting. So if we get them to where they really trust what they're doing and then play fast — but there's going to be some challenges they're going to face throughout the game and there's going to be a learning curve. There's going to be some mistakes that are made. Just like every game, but hopefully with their athleticism, they make some plays as well."

On the rookies saying the preseason games weren't as fast as they thought they'd be:

"They might say something different after this game. Ask them after this game. You know what, I think when you go into preseason it's really for us really fundamentals. It's really just going out there. That's what we're preaching all four preseason games. So it slowed down because I'm just concentrating on that. Well, now they're getting information added onto them, and so hopefully they do play fast. Hopefully they say those same things, but there's a lot of moving parts to it and a lot of things going on."

On the defensive line:

"Well, you know, I think with the [DE] Joey [Bosa] situation, I'm not sure where he is. He was limited yesterday. So we'll find out more, but I think whenever anybody's like that you always have to have plans for them. A guy like Isaac Rochell has done a nice job for us. He got a lot of reps in the preseason and we're pretty high where he is. Now, Ike [Rochell] was going to play anyway. So I think that as a defense we feel pretty strongly about the guys that we have in place. I know there's a lot of times in preseason our second group played well at times. So that's what we're trying to do is build a lot of depth so we can rotate a lot of guys. That defensive line, hopefully there's eight guys playing for this game and really from this game on. So they'll have a chance to play and rotate and we'll go."

On DE Isaac Rochell:

"No, Ike was going to play. I wouldn't be able to tell you right now how many [snaps]."


On TE Antonio Gates:

"It's good to have Antonio back. He brings a lot of things to the table besides being a good player. The guys love him. He's a tremendous leader. It's hard to say this, but it didn't feel like he missed a beat. So he's obviously been working and he's familiar with the system — and he's a pretty good player. So it was good to get him back."

On the Kansas City defense:

"Well, I think those guys do a great job of preparing their players. They always play well. They know their scheme. I know they've got some changes. It's a little bit different for them. There's some guys that have been with them for a while that were really good players that aren't there, but when you played in that system and you played behind guys like that, you get acclimated to it. [Chiefs Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Bob] Sutton does a great job and [Chiefs Head] Coach [Andy] Reid does as well. We know, no matter who lines up, the same things they've been able to do — and they do a lot of different things, they give you multiple fronts. They put a lot of stress on you. We're going to see those same things, just going to be from different guys that they're NFL players. So it's going to be a challenge, but we're excited about our guys and the way that we progressed through the preseason and hopefully we'll continue with the way our first units played in those games."

On his expecations for Sunday:

"Well, you know, I would like to play somewhere at a level like the way we finished last year. That's a tall challenge because it is the first game of the season. What you face in this type of game is a lot of unknown, especially when you talk about the team that we're playing. Some of the multiple defensive backs, fronts that they use, we're not 100 percent sure where some of these guys are going to line up. So you are dealing a little bit with somewhat of the unknown, but I think having some guys that have been in our system, their ability to adjust will help us. So I think that what you'd like to see is that we play with confidence, that we know that we can be successful if we do it the right way. I think the most important thing is that we don't turn the ball over. When you talk about this team and our experience with Kansas City, they've done a great job of taking the ball away from us and that's hurt us. If we could eliminate those, then we've got a good chance."

On Chiefs S Eric Berry:

"Well, he's a tremendous player. He has been a thorn in our side a number of times. Whether he plays or not, that will all work itself out. We've got to prepare for it. We've got to prepare knowing that whoever is in that spot where he plays is going to understand their scheme and going to be a good player. So, you know, if he doesn't play, he doesn't play. That's the way it is every week in the NFL."

On how Gates can expand the playbook:

"Well, we've been happy with some of the young guys the way they played especially Culkin, he's done a nice job and rightfully so. He'll get a chance to play some in a regular season game. There's so much knowledge and so much history between the quarterback and Antonio that there's things that you can do that it takes time to build with other guys. So having him back gives us that ability to do some things, especially maybe in the red zone and some of the areas where he's been so effective over his career. So I feel like we've been progressing well as an offense. We planned to go forward not knowing what was going to happen. So having Antonio is a tremendous asset."

On QB Philip Rivers keeping interceptions down last year:

"Quite frankly, I think some of it was game situations. In the past, in some of those games — some of the ones where we had a number of interceptions — we were behind in trying to catch up and teams were in situations where they could make some of those plays. Last year, if you think about it, we were in some of the games, not all of them, but in some of the games we were in better situations, especially later in the year. I think really a big part of it was the focus. [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn came in and said that's something that was important to him, not that it wasn't important to [former Head] Coach [Mike] McCoy or coaches before, but we had an emphasis on it. Other than the Kansas City games, especially from our perspective, it was pretty decent. So hopefully I think that our guys understand now the importance of it. We've certainly had that message this week. I hope I don't jinx it by talking about it. I'm superstitious about that stuff, but we feel good that consciousness of it, being aware of it and working on it — we work on drills in practice to make sure our ball security is good will help us."

On the timing of interceptions in the past:

"Well, to be honest with you, I think he feels like it's up to him to win it That's just the way he's wired and that's why he's been so good. There's a lot of times where you have to make those throws in tight windows. That's what the game is all about. When you go break it down after a game and you see how many times the pass was almost tipped or a guy comes off a block and almost gets there. It's small margins. I don't necessarily think it was him pressing because he felt like he had to do it all. Some of it was just bad decisions. Some of it was bad luck. I think we've worked hard to try to improve on that. Listen, it hasn't always been that way with Philip. It was we didn't have a great year in '16 with that. Some of it was the way that season went. Credit to him, he worked on it and Coach Lynn and made it an emphasis and we did better with it."

On WR Mike Williams:

"Yeah, you know, you always have what do you expect from them in the first game. I don't know. It's the first game that he's the Mike Williams we've seen in preseason camp. I give credit to him. He worked hard. Last year as a tough year. He missed all of camp. Didn't get going really until — what — six games into the season and then he got hurt and missed a little bit more. He just never seemed like he got up to who he thought he was going to be. This year in OTAs had a little setback early, but then in camp he really picked it up. You're excited to see it, but once again we haven't seen him play in this role where he's going to be play a little bit more and put him in situations where he can potentially make some plays. I think a big thing is getting some reps with the quarterback. A lot of times in this league, when you have that confidence or when you have that build of repetitions where you're working together, it makes it a little bit easier. So I'm excited to see what Mike can do. It will be fun to see if he gets the opportunity to make some plays, what he does with that Sunday."

On the anticipation to utilize the work of the offseason in a game:

"That puts a lot of pressure on me because if we come out there don't do well, you're going to say, 'Okay, great this stuff they were working on sucked.' You know what it's exciting because some of the things — you know we do work on some things when we're going against [Defensive Coordinator] Gus [Bradley], but now we're playing a different style of defense. We didn't show them necessarily in the preseason game some of the things we're excited about. You're always excited to see if they work. I think the big thing is when you design plays and players know that there's a chance it's coming to them — all of the guys — how you spread the ball around, they get excited. I really enjoy seeing that. When you get a play you work on in practice and you see it work, you say, 'Gosh, I wonder if this is going to work in the game.' You get the look you want and it happens and you're just like, 'Holy cow.' It's exciting to see how juiced they get and that's a big part of the fun as a coach for me, for us to see that. So I'm excited. I'm always excited for the regular season and seeing these guys play."

On if there's a balance with how much of the playbook utilized in Week 1:

"Gosh, if we have a game where we let it all out this first game it will be pretty good. I wouldn't be worried too much about that because we've got a lot of stuff. we've been working on. It's funny, there's a couple of plays that we really like. It's a good question. This is a good example. We've got a couple of plays we really like. We don't know necessarily if they're that great against this defense and then you say, 'Okay, am I going to hold it run it against a defense where I know it's a better matchup where I know it's going to be good, but I'm excited about this play. Do I run it and see if it will work?' Because that happens sometimes. So, yeah, there's going to be some that you run that you say, 'Well, I ain't holding it back, all right. We want to win this game so let's run it.' So it will be — there's always the battle with that. You can't run everything. You have some plays — many, many times you have a play where you just know it's going to work and it doesn't do anything. Then you have plays that [you don't know about] and then all of a sudden he goes for a touchdown. So there's so many variables between what they're running and what your guys are doing. It's always a chess game to some extent, but I guess the long

answer to your question is — You know in a game like this, first game of the year, you really want to make sure you use all your good stuff as much as you can."

On the importance of selflessness to an offense:

"I think it builds the chemistry with the team that allows you to be successful as a group because we ask a lot of our players. If you think about it, when you see guys lined up all in different spots and sometimes we ask them to be decoys, and you have a great player like [WR] Keenan [Allen]. Sometimes he's a decoy running so that [WR] Tyrell [Williams] or [WR] Travis [Benjamin] can get a ball. A lot of times with Antonio [Gates], especially in the past where he's gotten doubled, he's had to

sacrifice for other guys to have success. So when you have guys that are unselfish, you're able to do all of those things, and you have a quarterback like [QB] Philip [Rivers] that can handle it all, it allows you to be efficient, successful and have a good team. I think our line has really done a great job. The chemistry with our line has kind of driven us because those guys, they're really the ones that are underappreciated in this whole scheme. When [RB] Melvin [Gordon III] has a big day running, it's largely because of them. Certainly when Philip has one of those games like Dallas where he's 27-of-32, it's because of the protection, because of what they do. So they set the tone for us and they've done a good job."

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