Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: How did (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) look yesterday? We saw he got back out there for some limited work, right?
A: Yeah. He moved around well when we had him out there. He was limited obviously, wasn't close to a full practice for him, but we were able to get him off the trainers' field and move him around a little bit and see how he looked. It was positive.
Q: How about (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) and (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay)? Any chance you're still holding out that they can play?
A: We'll release the official rule-outs and game statuses after today. We'll kind of move them around a little bit with the trainers. Yesterday was better than the day before, kind of trending in a good direction. If it's not this week, we'll see where it goes in the near future.
Q: Does it hurt that the grass is wet? Would they be able to do more – Saquon and Kenny – if the grass wasn't wet? You don't want them to slip or whatever.
A: That wasn't really part of it, and I'd say in terms of drainage on our field, that's not really – it rained the other day and it wasn't really wet for our guys on the field yesterday.
Q: How optimistic are you that Kadarius could be ready by Monday night?
A: He's got a little bit of extra time this week, obviously, with it being a Monday Night game. The plan is to bring him on the trip and see where he's at, but he moved around well enough yesterday that we plan on taking him on the trip.
Q: We always ask players if they were fans of other players when they were growing up, but growing up in Philly, were you an (Chiefs Head Coach) Andy Reid fan when you were younger?
A: Yeah, I had a lot of respect for him, I really did. I remember when he came in and thought he did a really, really good job right away of getting his team moving in a certain direction. He's one of the few coaches (that) I actually watched his postgame pressers. Living in that city, there's only a couple of channels and most of them are sports talk radio anyway, so you kind of grow up with it riding into school or whatever you're doing. You listen to a lot of talk radio. It's a very sports-centric city and there are a lot of things you pay attention to. I remember they referenced a few of his postgame pressers early on, so I started paying more attention to him at a young age of, when the game was over, turning off Merrill Reese and kind of listening to what Andy was saying and just listening to how he said it. I don't think he remembers this, but when (Ravens Head Coach John) Harbaugh was actually still in Philly as the special teams coordinator, he was a guy that – actually (Assistant Coach of Special Projects and Situations) Amos Jones took me down during our summer break, went down and watched the Eagles, some of their OTAs, watched them practice, see how they operate, being around their team in that nature. There were different exposures I had with him, things that he probably wouldn't remember, but a ton of respect for him, absolutely.
Q: We know a lot about the influence of guys you've worked for, but as a guy who I'm sure keeps tabs on the entire industry, is there any coach who really stands out that influenced you beyond the ones you worked for?
A: Yeah, more than I can name right now and a lot in different ways. Some guys influence you more in terms of how their teams play, some guys maybe because of how they address publicly and you see the persona. I think sometimes you get closer to guys and you kind of get to know them, who someone is really behind the mic, who someone is away from the public. But, there's definitely a lot of guys that have influenced me. To me, I always try to watch the tape in terms of how the guys are playing. That, to me, is the biggest thing that jumps out. Anytime we interview a coach for a job, before I ever talk to a guy or someone brings up their name, the tape goes on. If you get to a certain level of tape and you say, 'Okay, this looks like what I'm looking for,' then you start progressing further on down the road. In terms of coaches you look up to or coaches that have influenced you, to me it's all about how the players play on the field. Are they sound? Are they disciplined? Do they play hard? What does it look like?
Q: You've played some big games in that atmosphere in Kansas City, what do you tell your players about what to expect?
A: I think you keep it more centric on this one here, but when you talk about the environment anywhere, which we touch on – that's something that's kind of evolved throughout my experience in this industry. I've coached for a lot of guys who you never touched on where you were going, you never even focused on, whether it be specifics of the other team, you never really worry too much about the stadium, the environment, whatever it is. Then, I worked for a couple of guys who it's part of what you're going into. You talk about the weather, you talk about the officiating crew, you talk about the stadium, you talk about the fan base, let them know everything going into it so it's not a surprise on Saturday afternoons at times, Sunday, Monday night, whatever it is. You kind of address that more, so we talk about everything from, 'Hey, these are tight sidelines.' The fans are right on you there. To some guys, they can relate it more to the college they played at. If you played at Florida, the Swamp, they're tight sidelines. A lot of our guys have experienced playing in the SEC and those stadiums. You talk about the noise in the stadium, it's a very loud atmosphere. How does that affect you? You're still only playing 11 on the field, but there is noise you have to mitigate. You have to communicate through that – substitutions coming off the sidelines, communications on the field, communications within checks and the plays, communications post-snap or whatever it may be, so you've got to make sure the communication is right. That's why we use noise at practice, just to make sure that we're fighting to make that communication and really overemphasizing (that) every detail is important. Ultimately, it comes down to the players on the field and how they execute, but in terms of the atmosphere out there, this is a great fan base. It really is. It's obviously a historical team, there's a lot of history in that city, a lot of great things that have happened in that stadium. There are certain stadiums in this league that are very neat to walk out to. I've only been in Lambeau once, but I can tell you this, it was kind of built up to me beforehand. I went out there before the game, walked out there and you say, 'Yeah, it's a special place.' It's just different being there. Arrowhead is one of those places. You walk out there, it's got a different feel from some of the new stadiums, got a lot of history to it, the fan base is out there, they've got the drums banging. A whole lot of things kind of tie into it, so it's a pretty cool atmosphere.
Q: We've spent a lot of time asking you about what you don't have on the offensive line – this guy's missing, this guy's missing, this guy's missing. It looks like you're going to start the same five guys in the same five spots for the first time in any game this year. Seven games, seven different alignments. It looks like that's going to change with that. Should that help cohesion-wise?
A: I think sometimes that's looked at externally more than maybe us internally. We expect all of our guys to play anyway. I'm proud of how all the guys are working and the progress they're making. I think the offensive line guys are doing a great job coaching and getting these guys prepared. In terms of the same group carried over, you don't want to lose any of your players, but at the same time, next man up, you've got to go, you've got to operate, you've got to function. I haven't really thought too much about (how) it's the same group two weeks in a row. It's just get our guys out there and get them playing.
Q: What does B-Mac (Linebacker Benardrick McKinney) give you guys on defense since he got here? He's still on the practice squad, obviously, but I would imagine based on his role last week that he'll be up again this week.
A: Since he's been here, he's a very focused player. You can see the experience carry over. The communication right away jumped out with him. You can tell right away just in practice last week that there were things, just natural things – he didn't have every call or check for us right away, but he can call out certain things based on alignments, tips, tendencies, just from being in the league of what it may be, so the communication jumped out right away. You also kind of just see him in meetings preparing and you can tell he has a system and a process he follows. The way he takes notes, the way he checks back on things, the questions he asks are very in-tune. The communication he has with the guys sitting next to him, making sure he's around guys he's going to be communicating with on the field. He brings an intensity to practice that showed up in the game last week. That's something you really like. Obviously, I've known this guy through the league playing against him and competing against him. Having him on your side, you can see the success he's had and why it happens. This guy prepares extremely well, and he goes out there and he plays freely because he's prepared.
Q: Do players notice when a guy who's got his skins comes in – Pro Bowl, the 100-tackle seasons? Do they notice and gravitate to that?
A: I'd say so. I think you can see just whether it's a young guy that's kind of looking at an older guy who's kind of done it or maybe an older guy who you turn around and say, 'Okay, this guy's in this room now, here we go.' I think he's been a positive influence. I think when anyone comes in with that, that definitely grabs your attention, but I think beyond that it's more about how the guy handles himself and prepares. There's a lot of talented guys who go to different teams and you hear horror stories at times where they go in there and it causes some kind of division, dissension or whatever it may be. It causes issues moreso than helping. I think when a guy comes in with the right team attitude and prepares the way that B-Mac has, that actually helps the team and brings them together more and really helps the team go ahead and play more as a unit. I thought last week defensively that's something we did, we played as a unit. That's something B-Mac had mentioned when we were talking as a team and talking with the players, it's something he brought up in terms of what was valuable to him as a defense (and it) was being part of a unit. Now, he hadn't been with us for anything but a week, but he obviously prepared last week and he got in the game and made some plays for us.
Q: Is playing on Monday night for a lot of your guys, do you sense it's a big deal? Like, 'Hey, we've got a chance to show everybody what we're really made of?' And do you have to worry about them making it too much of a big deal?
A: I haven't really sensed much of that, to be honest with you. We haven't made too big a deal of the fact that it's Monday night or Sunday night or four o'clock or one o'clock. I think the thing you have to realize is every game can be seen anywhere at this point. Every game is on TV. Everything will be nationally broadcasted. You've got the Red Zone for all the games on Sundays. Everyone's going to watch Sunday Night Football. Everyone can watch Monday Night Football. Everyone's going to watch Thursday Night Football. We've already played Thursday, we've got Monday. To me, it's you're just playing a game. To me, it's you're playing a game. In terms of building up the time of the game or whatever it may be, I don't really know if that's relevant for how we're going to perform. I think ultimately the players like playing under the lights, I think they do. I think when the lights go on, guys just naturally like playing in those. I like those environments, as well. There's just something about the buildup of the day that's pretty nice on that, but in terms specifically to your question about Monday night, I haven't sensed that, and we haven't really made too big a deal about that.
Q: I was just going to ask about (Guard) Will Hernandez. He's the one guy who's played every snap. He played every snap for his first three years here until he got COVID. How has he played this year and how important is that availability?
A: I think Will took on the challenge of moving to the right side, which he played the majority of his career on the left side. That's something he had to really go ahead and get used to, and he's done a good job. He's really embraced it. He's excelled at it for us. He's made a lot of improvement for it. I think him being on the field for every snap comes into a lot of things, but I think one of the things you look at is the way he worked in the offseason, the prep work he did, how he really worked on changing his body and improving a lot of the things and that's carried over to this year. He's been a really good player for us. He's given us a lot of leadership. Will's not the most vocal. He can be vocal, but he's not a chatter box. He's not just running around and just saying things to say it, so when he speaks up, they listen. They really go ahead, and they take on more from just how he approaches practice and how he goes about it throughout the duration of the day, and he's done a good job for us.