What We Learned from Thursday's Media Availability from The Mothership
Q: Why is it hard for a punter to get consistent recognition with Pro Bowls like
TOUB: "He's one of those top-three guys, there's no question. What happens is everybody looks at the numbers - he's not going to have the kind of numbers that some of these other guys that bomb the football. He's going to do what we ask him to do, which is be a directional guy. He's such a team guy as far as putting the ball inside the 20 and kicking it out of bounds when we ask him to kick it out of bounds. He's not worried about numbers and he's really been good for us as a team. If you go back and watch how he affected our games - the games that we won or even the ones that we lost - he was a big factor in the field position, great field position."
Q: When you look at the Pro Bowl voting, how much of it is an injustice?
TOUB: "He's one of the top guys, everybody knows it. It doesn't bother him, he's such a team guy. It would be nice for him to get that recognition when he deserves it. And he certainly deserved it this year."
Opponent Preview: Get to Know the Cleveland Browns from The Mothership
With the playoffs out of reach, Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine explained that he's utilizing these last few games to determine his team's identity.
"We're using this to find out who we are and what guys are going to fight to the end," he said. "For the most part, that's how we've been. The effort against San Francisco, I felt, was our best of the season and that's coming with four games left and we'd just been eliminated from the playoffs. I've been around situations where guys have packed it in and that has not been the case."
Chiefs vs. Browns: Five Things to Watch from The Mothership
1. The advantage of playing at Arrowhead Stadium with plenty on the line
Luckily for the Chiefs, after playing 9 of their first 14 games away from Arrowhead Stadium, the final two games of the regular season are back in front of the loudest fans in the NFL.
"When you're in the hunt in the month of December, what better place could you imagine playing than Arrowhead Stadium?" Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week. "I mean, think about that. We know our people are going to be out here like crazies, and everybody is home for Christmas and what better place to be than right here.
"We look forward to it. Our players feed off that. You can't help it. I've got headsets on and everything and you still kind of just feel the rumble there.
"It's just a great, great environment for football."
Five Chiefs Players Named to 2016 NFL Pro Bowl Roster from The Mothership
The 2016 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 31, and televised live on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. This year's all-star game features the new format adopted in 2014. Players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. Players will be assigned to teams during the 2016 Pro Bowl Draft on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce Earns First Career Pro Bowl Nod from The Mothership
"It's a nice little honor," he told the media. "In a team sport like this game is, to get an individual award like this from your peers and the guys around you - in the locker room and all over the league - it's a humbling experience."
Kelce, 26, is three years removed from being drafted by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After a rookie season ridden with injuries, he broke out for 862 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns in 2014, instilling the confidence in the coaching staff and front office that he had what it took to be a team's No. 1 tight end.
WR Albert Wilson Watches "Chiefs Dancin' Granny," Sends Message Back to Her from The Mothership
When the Chiefs found out that Leva had never been to Arrowhead Stadium, they extended an invite to her for the team's final home game against the Oakland Raiders on January 3.
Donna believes that Leva, who is now getting noticed at shopping centers throughout Kansas City, will be pleasantly surprised.
"She'll be totally shocked because she's never had that happen. Nobody's ever offered or anything, so she'll be totally shocked. She'll be crying.
"My mom will literally cry because of the love she has for these guys."
Chiefs Quarterbacks Visit the University of Kansas Hospital from The Mothership
Smith said the trip to the hospital made him even more appreciative for some of the things he is fortunate enough to have in his own personal life.
"You're thankful for your health and your family's health. It's a great thing," he said. "[The children] have serious battles on their hands, and for us to come in and just get to hang out a little bit and to see their outlook and their attitude is special."
Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga has earned defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's trust from The Kansas City Star
Josh Mauga and Derrick Johnson have a good working relationship. That's important, considering the starting middle linebackers in the Chiefs' 3-4 scheme often have to be on the same page in order to stop the run.
"I try to compete with him," Mauga said with a laugh. "I'll tell him before the snap that I'm gonna beat him to this play, I'm gonna take on this block and make the tackle. He gets excited about it, too, and he ends up making the play anyway."
Johnson, indeed, has won their friendly competition more often than not — his 100 total tackles lead the team, while Mauga has 48 in two fewer games.
With the season headed towards a conclusion in the weeks ahead, Peters has firmly imprinted the Chiefs defense with his considerable skill, and a passion for the game that may exceed his talent.
So impactful has the young man from Oakland been, it's not far-fetched to consider Peters as the Chiefs' most valuable player in the amazing 2015 season.
This week, he's already earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, becoming the fourth player in team history to secure an all-star game spot as a rookie. On Wednesday, Peters was also named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two interceptions with a touchdown return against Baltimore.
"His attitude seems to have spread throughout the team," quarterback Alex Smith said. "It's very rare for a young guy to have such a great attitude that it rubs off on others."
Peters was the first of five players mentioned by Pro Football Focus as those who were picked to play in the Pro Bowl and don't deserve the honor. Just from the stats, Peters doesn't. According to PFF, Peters has had 123 passes thrown his way, highest among NFL cornerbacks.
Peters is second in yards allowed with 903 and tied for fourth in touchdowns yielded with seven
But the raw stats ignore the reality of what Peters has brought to the Chiefs, who have one of the NFL's best defensive teams. Peters is the playmaker the Chiefs didn't have in their secondary and he carries with him an attitude that is rubbing off on his teammates.
Chiefs' Frank Zombo ready if Hali can't play sunday from The Kansas City Star
If he gets the call Sunday, the Chiefs will be without their two Pro Bowl outside linebackers, Hali and Justin Houston, who is recovering from a hyperextended knee. Dee Ford has started for Houston.
"One thing we've tried to do the whole year is operate with one (idea), and that's whatever group is on the field the team on the field is the team," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "You try not to reduce your standards of what your expectations are.
"We have to play at a certain level and a certain manner all the time. We aren't going to change what we do."
Frank Zombo ready if Chiefs call his number to fill in for Tamba Hali from Chiefs Digest
From offense to defense through 15 games, the Chiefs epitomize the "next man up" mentality while dealing with an assortment of injuries on both side of the ball.
That approach won't change in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns with the Chiefs now dealing with outside linebacker Tamba Hali's thumb injury, which required surgery earlier in the week.
"You try not to reduce your standards of what your expectations are," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "The (opposing) offense doesn't discount us because of who is playing. We've got to play at a certain level and play in a certain manner all the time.
"If that would be the case, then the next guys up are Dee Ford and Frank (Zombo) and we've got to do a great job with it and just go get ‘em. We're not going to change what we do on defense, obviously."
The Chiefs have yet to rule out Hali or Houston for Sunday's game, but neither has practiced this week. There seemed to be some optimism that Hali, who broke his thumb in Sunday's win over the Ravens and subsequently had surgery to insert three screws, would be available to play.
Chiefs' De'Anthony Thomas ready to return after concussion from The Kansas City Star
"You always worried about a guy who hasn't caught a punt in four weeks, how he's going to react," special teams coach Dave Toub said.
Will Thomas start on Sunday?
"As long as he keeps progressing like he's doing, I feel good about it," Toub said.
Chiefs' De'Anthony Thomas primed to return after dealing with concussion from Chiefs Digest
In the past four weeks, Thomas was often observed on the sidelines watching his teammates during the portions of practice open to the media.
Thomas said he used the time to take visual repetitions and stayed on top of the playbook before he eventually returned to the practice field.
"I feel like I haven't lost a beat," he said.
While the missed time may have been frustrating, the second-year pro had one big takeaway during the recovery process.
"Patience, having patience," Thomas said. "It took me a while, but I feel like I prepared myself well to get back on the field and I'm excited."
When they learned that safety Eric Berry had been selected to play in this season's Pro Bowl a mere 13 months after being diagnosed with cancer, there wasn't much in the way of surprise from the Kansas City Chiefs.
This was another part of Berry's plan. It's why he worked out through his chemotherapy treatments, often to the point of complete exhaustion. It's what he told the Chiefs would happen.
Week 16: Thursday injury report from Chiefs Digest
The Browns continue to list 12 players on the injury report, but Thursday's list saw some movement with key starters on the offensive line.
Center Alex Mack (calf) and left tackle Joe Thomas (knee) put in a limited practice Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.
Numerous Chiefs players embrace jersey-exchange trend sweeping NFL from Chiefs Digest
Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos has a firm grasp of soccer traditions, a sport he grew up playing in his native Brazil.
And one of the oldest customs Santos knows well surrounds the postgame exchange of jerseys.
"You see a lot of the young players swapping jerseys with older veterans just because they grew up watching them and respect the kind of player they are," Santos said. "So, they want to have that memorabilia, ‘Hey, I got to play against this player.'"
Santos is pleasantly surprised the soccer tradition now has firm roots in the NFL, where the exchanges aren't limited to the holiday seasonal spirit of giving and receiving.
Cleveland Browns (3-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-5): The Chiefs haven't lost since the Falcons were 5-1, Kirk Cousins was a punchline and Johnny Manziel was still on the bench. Or was he on the bench in October? I forget. We were all so young. Anyway, K.C. still has a shot at the division if the Broncos muck it up. And they clinch their playoff spot if they win here and either the Jets or Steelers lose.
Chiefs' Smith showing Browns' Manziel path to success from The Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports
He was supposed to be the savior of a downtrodden franchise, a mobile quarterback with plenty of arm strength to keep defenses honest, and enough moxie to lead his team to respectability.
Perfect description for Alex Smith. Pretty good forJohnny Manziel, too.
When Smith leads the Kansas City Chiefs into Sunday's game against the Browns, he may as well be showing his Cleveland counterpart what's still possible.
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't inspire much confidence when they jumped out to a 1-5 start to the season, but since that time, they've won eight in a row. The Chiefs are sitting at 9-5 and currently hold the fifth seed in the AFC, but they have the opportunity to knock the Denver Broncos out of the top spot in the AFC West. The Broncos have a one-game lead on Kansas City, and the Chiefs own the tiebreaker.
The Cleveland Browns shouldn't be much of an obstacle for the Chiefs this week. The 3-11 Browns have won just one of their last nine games, and Cleveland was the first NFL team eliminated from playoff contention this season.
Milestones add up for Chiefs' safety on road back from cancer from The Associated Press from The Portland Press Herald
"It's one of those checkpoints," he acknowledged, "but right now I feel like I have more stuff to focus on. It's good and everything, but right now I'm just focused on something different."
Like not being able to make that trip to Hawaii.
Berry's elite play at the back end of Kansas City's relentless defense is a big reason the Chiefs (9-5) have won eight straight games and gotten back into playoff contention. And with wins Sunday over Cleveland and next week against Oakland, the Chiefs could still capture the AFC West, giving them a home playoff game as they begin their quest for the Super Bowl.
That would be the biggest milestone in Berry's storybook comeback.
Not that he's ever considered any other outcomes.
Will defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil give Dansby his wish?
"I'll have an opportunity to have my shots at him," Dansby replied. "If they throw the ball, they throw the ball. If they don't, if he has to block me, he's going to have to block me. That's just part of the game. Within the scheme, though, I'll have my opportunities to get him."
Dansby fancies himself an elite coverage linebacker, and he'll need to live up to the billing if he wants to neutralize Kelce, a Cleveland Heights High School graduate.
Team Record Is Often the Key Statistic for Pro Bowl Candidates from The New York Times
The only offensive position with a higher average winning percentage than quarterback was tight end. There, the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski and the Carolina Panthers' Greg Olsen were obvious choices, but players like Delanie Walker (76 receptions, 935 yards, six touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans) and Gary Barnidge (68 receptions, 930 yards, nine touchdowns for the Browns) were passed over for tight ends on winning teams: the Bengals' Tyler Eifert (48/564/12) and the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce (65/822/4).