Q: It's mid-December and it's getting cold out. It seems like this is getting to be real football weather, after being in a dome and then San Diego, right?CP: "Yeah, we've been practicing outside, though. Even though we've been playing in nice weather, we've been practicing in this bad weather. It should be cold Sunday, but we'll be used to it and ready to play."
Q: Given Kansas City's struggles with run defense, it seems like your emphasis on the run game plays into the game plan.CP: "Absolutely. That's the strength of our offense. It's been that way all season, and that's a struggle they've been having. We come out in every game plan with the intent to run the ball, and we need to do it this way."
Q: When Larry Johnson got here, he said the best Christmas gift he could get would be to play the Chiefs. Do you think he will be more ready this Sunday?CP: "Absolutely, he's been that way since he's been here. He's been patient with his opportunities. When he's been called on, he's been effective. He's had his mind in the right place and his focus in the right place, and it's been difficult on him because he's not used to playing that role. I can't imagine how hard it's been on him, but he's been terrific. I'm not sure what specific game plan we'll have for him this week, but I know he'll be ready to play."
Q: From a football perspective, what have you seen from Larry Johnson? Is it anything different than what you had originally thought?CP: "Not really. I've been a fan of his for a while. I've seen him play a lot. I saw a lot of his film while preparing for other teams. It's exactly what I expected – big, physical, fast once he gets his stride opened. He can run by people. He runs through arm tackles, he can cut, he can catch, he can do anything. He's an all-around threat at that position and exactly what I expected when I saw him in college and in the years of him rushing for God-knows-how-many yards. It isn't a surprise."
Q: Quan Cosby had a good game as a receiver last week. Is this what you've been seeing out of him every week? Was it surprising to you?CP: "He didn't surprise me. He's a big-play guy. He's made a lot of big plays throughout his career, and although it was only in college, it was on a big stage and at a high level. He's kind of a guy who's waited for his turn and his opportunity. Whether it be on a punt return or we put him in some plays to block in the run game, he's come in and made plays. I know he's hoping his role continues to develop, and he'll have more and more opportunities."
Q: You guys have a chance to clinch the division title at home this week, in front of the fans. What would that mean?CP: "It'd be great. I hope it would mean a lot to them, because it would mean a lot to us to do it for them. Our fans have heard a lot about Pittsburgh and Baltimore and been through the wringer with us over the years. It would be fun to do that in front of them, and that's one of our focuses this week."
Q: This has been a pretty busy time for you guys, with a funeral yesterday and Christmas coming up on Friday. Is it difficult to just focus on the football game coming up this Sunday?CP: "I don't think it will be too difficult for our team. We've dealt with adversity and distraction. We've all dealt with the mourning of Chris (Henry), and the passing of Chris. Not that it will be out of our systems or that we won't be thinking about him ... we'll still be thinking about him every day. But we also know we have a job to do, and we have a great opportunity in front of us, an opportunity that Chris would have loved to have been a part of. We're not going to squander that."
Q: How was yesterday?CP: "It was a weird day. Sad day. Emotional. Strange. Long. It was just a tough, draining day on a lot of our players. Coach (Marvin Lewis) did a good job of getting us in today and stressing us to us that he's going to take care of us, get us 100 percent, get us feeling great by the time Sunday rolls around and get us enough downtime. We've been traveling from the Midwest to the west coast, and back. Traveling to New Orleans, and back. Our clocks have been off. Coach has done a good job, saying he's going to take care of us this week."
Q: Did he say that today?CP: "He said that today and Monday when we met."
Q: Chad Ochocinco mentioned that Marvin Lewis told the team that he's 'got' you guys. What does that exactly mean?CP: "It just means he's going to take care of us, get us fresh and ready to play on Sunday."
Q: How much has that meant to you, and how big of a difference is that from early on in his career here?CP: "It's been a huge difference. I've been here for seven years with Coach, from his rookie year to now his seventh year in the league, and from my rookie year and now my seventh. It's amazing. I've had a chance to watch him get better every year, be a better coach every year. And I don't know if that's consistent with most coaches, if most coaches come in and they're really good right away or they grow and they develop, but he's really grown into a great coach. I can't think of a coach that in his first year in the league, all his players say, 'Aw, man, he's great, he doesn't need to work on anything.' Marvin's really gotten better with gauging our team, and a lot of it is because he knows our individual players. He knows when to back off, he knows when to put shoulder pads on, he knows when to hold us longer for meetings, he knows when to get us out of practice earlier. And that's a head coach's main job, is to get his team ready to play on Sundays. To have been here through Marvin's first day, first year to now seventh year, it's really cool to see how great of a coach he's becoming and how great of a coach he's become."
Q: It seems like you and Marvin Lewis are having a lot more conversations around the facility this season than in years past: CP: "Oh, Marvin and I? Yeah. Our dialogue's definitely picked up. There used to not be a whole lot of dialogue between us, but I think he's learned to trust me. I think I've more importantly gained his trust, because I think you definitely need to gain a coach's trust. But Marvin is always talking to his players. When we're out of meetings, he's not hiding out in his office upstairs, he's in the locker room talking to guys, bouncing in and out of other position's meetings, in the offensive meetings and the defensive meetings. He's around. I don't know what he's doing; maybe getting the vibe of the team, maybe just making sure his face is seen. I don't know exactly what it is, but it's really nice to have a coach that's like that."
Q: In all of your time playing football, have you ever experienced a series of penalties like last week's when you got three in a row before you had even snapped the ball on first down?CP: "I can't imagine it's ever happened to many teams. To lose focus that many plays in a row, like I said after the game, it was embarrassing. I think we were all embarrassed. We've talked about it as a group. We've talked about it as a team with Marvin, but we've also talked about it in our offensive meetings and we're taking practice steps to improve those little things, and they will be improved on."
Q: Is the problem a mechanical thing, like a communication thing between the coaches booth and the field? CP: "I just think as a whole it's just a focus thing, just not being 100 percent focused. Being 85 percent focused, 92 percent focused, not being 100 percent. It's something that we will change."