Opening Comments: ML: "First, we just want to thank all the people who sent their condolences and sympathy to the (Chris) Henry family and the organization here. We appreciate all of that. Yesterday, the guys were able to travel down there with a long day, and were very patient with the day. We were able to show the respect that they needed to. I was appreciative of that, and of everyone else that was there – a lot of former players, etc.
"As we look forward to the Chiefs: In their quarterback, Matt Cassel, they've got a player who was very efficient last year with the Patriots. I think he's had some splendid moments this season. He's had some balls dropped on him. He's had some things not come together they way they had hoped at times. But they're an offensive football team with (Dwayne) Bowe and (Chris) Chambers outside – two big guys. Jamaal Charles is as good a running back as we've faced this season. So this offensive football team can make some big, explosive plays, and they have throughout this season.
"On defense, they're probably led by their front group. Tamba Hali is playing very good football up there now, and Mike Vrabel on the other side. (Glenn) Dorsey, (Tyson) Jackson – the guys they have up front – are good players. So that's the thing we have to be very careful of. We have to be diligent at our jobs, and do a great job of manning up, as I say many times. They're based out of the 3-4 defense, so we'll see the 3-4 pressures that you normally see from that. It's kind of a combination of things that we see regularly out of the 3-4 teams in our division, but some of the coverage matchups are similar to what we use, since Coach (Clancy) Pendergast is their coordinator and he came out of the Dallas system with Mike (Zimmer). So there's some similarities that way in coverage. So that's the challenge this week for our guys.
"I think we're as healthy as you could expect to be at this point in the season. Domata (Peko) will progress to some on-field rehab work today, and simulate football with the hope to ease him into practice time tomorrow and then to rev him up on Friday and see just where we are, if we don't have any setbacks. Chris Crocker is on the mend and doing well with the rehab portion of his (recovery). Other than that, we'll be basically at full strength with everything, so I think we're in good shape that way."
Q: Obviously, you would have preferred to have clinched the division title a few weeks ago. But what is the significance of having the opportunity to clinch the title this week, in front of the home fans?ML: "The opportunity to win the division this week is a great thing, in front of our fans. Unfortunately, we've watched two teams do it the last two weeks (Minnesota and San Diego). So I don't know that we would figure to have the sense of celebration that they will, because we're going to move on, because that's not all we're here for. But we've had to sit there and experience it with the other teams. You get what you pay for. You don't win the game, they get to do what they want. It's a 16-game season. I said that after the first game, I said that after the Green Bay game, and I said that after the Pittsburgh game here. Now we're in the 15th game of the season and the 16th week, so we've still got a lot of good things going on. This is a big, important football game to us. It's a great way to close out the regular season at home, to get a victory here against the Chiefs. We know they're going to come in here ready to play. We'll get their fastball. We'll get their best effort. They're a team that's putting their pieces and parts in place. Having been there before, we kind of have a feeling of how that works. And that's what they're working to do."
Q: Chad Ochocinco mentioned how you told the team on Monday 'I've got you.'ML: "I've really got him (laughs)."
Q: He said it really meant a lot to him, and the rest of the team. What exactly do you mean when you say 'I've got you?'ML: "Well. That's between me and them. But I've got them, don't worry. We've had a little bit of a roller coaster. I've got them this week. I've got them starting today and all the way through. It's a whole big circle. The guys that have been here know what I meant when I said that."
Q: Some players have said recently that you have done a good job of knowing when to push the players and when to back off on the workload. They said you are better at it now, and a little more willing to do it now than you maybe would have been in previous years: ML: "They always remember the easy times. It's nature, it really is. We win the first game, and they want Monday off. It's just player nature. I don't know if it's human nature, but I do know it's NFL player nature. All they remember is that it was shorter, it was this, it was that. But, I think we've been…."
Q: Would you agree? Do you think you have changed, in that regard?ML: "I really don't. This is a younger football team that we've had. This team probably spends more time working than teams we've had in the past. But all they remember is at the end of the year when you do cut things back, and they want to do that in September or even August, and you can't. But at this point, yes we can. I encourage the coaches that there are certain players that of a nine or 10-play sequence of plays in practice, they don't need seven of those plays any more. They can get by with five of those plays, and we can get another player in there for four of those plays. I've pared those periods back. They used to be 11 or 12 plays, now they're down to nine plays. And that 10-minute individual period is now eight-and-a-half minutes, which used to be 12 minutes. So what I tell them is that 10 minutes today is going to go in eight-and-a-half. So things go faster. And that's what we have to do. We have to play fast, practice fast and be efficient. If we spend time repeating plays in order to get things right, then that's counter-productive to what we're doing. That's the challenge to them."
Q: So what you're saying is that you haven't changed, but that they are just getting the message a little more clearly?ML: "Right. You don't have to repeat yourself and so forth. We don't have a time when we're going to end practice. We're going to end practice when we're done. Generally, we end practice sooner than I thought we would, based on the number of plays, because we go through the plays at a pretty rapid pace. And if we don't have to repeat many, we're in pretty good shape. At this point in the year, that's how we should be doing it. I want them out of here, off their feet. I want them to have a chance to take a deep breath and relax that way a little bit."
Q: But you still make them repeat something if they don't get it right, correct?ML: "Yeah, we do. We may. We may start the whole period over again."
Q: Does it help?ML: "It depends on the look. We want to get things on tape, that's why we practice. There are certain things you want to get on tape. I used to always get on Brian (Billick). I'd have eight plays scripted, and I wanted to run the same defense against the same play again, or a different defense. I'd say, 'We'd have to do that again because we didn't get it quite right,' because we have to get it on tape so we can coach it. Sometimes the coaches want to run it again, Mike (Zimmer) or Brat (Bob Bratkowski). Sometimes they don't. Sometimes I feel like we have to run it again, just because I want to see the execution of it, and then you can coach from the tape."
Q: You mentioned that Domata Peko will be worked into practicing this week. Is there any chance he could play on Sunday?ML: "There's a chance he'll play on Sunday. He'd like to play and we'll see. When he originally had the surgery, they thought two, three weeks. I guess he's at the three-week mark right now. So, we'll see. Everything's been good so far."
Q: Is Bernard Scott completely over the turf toe injury?ML: "Yeah, Bernard's pretty much over it. I think he's still going to have some ... I don't know if you get over any injuries when you're in December until about March at this point, particularly when you're a rookie. But yeah, he's close. I think he's still going to have some pain in there that's going to be there, until you get off your feet totally and don't have to cut and do the things that backs have to do. But he's progressed well."