PITTSFORD (WKBW) It's been several years since the Bills took part in a joint practice, the last time was back in 2005 in Green Bay with the Packers. The pace, intensity, and competitive nature are all expected to pick up a bit, especially in the live sessions, and the Bills should be pretty well rested heading into a pair of workouts with the Steelers.
Weather in the Rochester area caused the Bills to cancel Tuesday morning practice. The team went through a closed walk-through and meetings, but in many ways it was a second straight day of rest coming off a day off.
After wrapping Tuesday morning, the team packed up and headed to Latrobe Pennsylvania for back to back joint practices with the Steelers.
Eyewitness Sports will be on the road with the Bills and traveling to Latrobe. Reports begin Wednesday night, leading up to full coverage of pre-season game number three on Saturday, which can be seen on Channel 7.
Below are transcripts from player availability on Tuesday, courtesy of the Bills:
RB Fred Jackson
August 12, 2014
Q: What's it like to get an extra day off today?
A: It's huge when you're out here banging and going through as much as we are. When you're at training camp and you get these unexpected days off, you like it. But it's on us now to take advantage of it when we come back on the field. We've had a couple of days off and then we get right back to work.
Q: Is the timing of this day off ideal since you're probably going to have some harder than normal days in Pittsburgh?
A: Yeah, it couldn't come at a better time knowing that we're about to go out there and it's going to be pretty physical down. They're a team that prides themselves on being physical and we're going to go out there and match that. We get a good break going into that is going to make it that much better.
Q: You haven't been at a combined practice like this before. What are your expectations?
A: Anytime you're going against somebody else, if you're any type of competitor, it's going to be more like game than a practice. We're expecting that and we know it's going to be a good opportunity for us to go out there and see where we stand. It's always a good measuring stick to have and when you get the chance to do it, you're going to go out and prove yourself.
Q: What are your expectations for this team with practices and a couple of games now under your belt?
A: We have huge expectations. We've done a lot of things, thing is our second year with the coaching staff. Our defense did some tremendous things last year and we expect them to play just as well as they did last year. On offense we have to make great strides. We're excited about what EJ Manuel is doing for us right now. He has his second year under him and with the key pieces that we've added on offense, we like our chances to go out and do some things. So expectations are high. We're built to win right now and not down the road and that's what we're looking forward to.
WR Chris Hogan
August 12, 2014
Q: What is the difference between this year's receiving corps and last year's group?
A: We're a young group again this year. We brought in a veteran, Mike Williams, and obviously Sammy Watkins is everything everyone expected him to be. I think that this group this year has a lot of down up and down the roster and there are a lot of playmakers on this team. I think this wide receiver group is eager to get on the field and be able to make some plays.
Q: What have you worked on from last year up until this point?
A: I think it's being in this system for my second year. I think that plays a big part in it. Being with EJ Manuel again, this being my second year with him, especially playing out of the slot has a lot to do with chemistry with him and timing and all that stuff. Time can only help us. I think we're getting to that point right now in camp where we're starting to build that chemistry and we're starting to feel that and starting to click as a group and as a corps.
Q: How reassuring is it to you knowing that you've instilled a measure of confidence in EJ to look for you on third-downs?
A: For me, that's a big part of it. Just to be a trustworthy guy on the field. Obviously, if I'd want anyone to trust me, it'd be our quarterback. When I'm on the field, if he trusts me to be in the right spot and win on my routes, that's huge for me because I can only help our offense and help EJ. Especially on third downs because that's huge. We've stressed that a lot this offseason and going into camp we knew we needed to be better on third downs. That's plain and simple. We need to be at a certain percentage to make the playoffs this year and that's what we're striving to be. If EJ and I having a good connection and our chemistry is good on third downs, hopefully that will help us get to our goal.
C Eric Wood
August 12, 2014
Q: Pittsburgh historically is a physical, hard-nosed football team. How do you think this Bills team will hold up against that type of physicality?
A: It will be good test for us. They have a lot of tradition; we have a lot of respect for their organization. It will be a good measuring stick, anytime you go against the Steelers you learn how tough you are and how fundamentally sound you are. Under Dick Lebeau they've traditionally be incredibly sound defensively.
Q: It almost creates a new scenario for the preseason game, you get two full days of work against them before you play on Saturday.
A: Yeah, I'm not exactly sure how that will work out, I've never done this before. We generally practice against a look team, and obviously our look team is not as good as a starting lineup is going to be. In this case we're going to be going up against a starting defense and then playing in a game against them. I have no idea, I'd say you'd probably be a little more comfortable and prepared before game time.
Q: What do you want to get out of these two days as an offense?
A: We just want to keep building. We've been talking about that all through the preseason. We're not going to go from where we were as an offense to a top 5 or top 3 offense overnight, it's all about the process and these are just two opportunities with the practice and one opportunity with the game to get better, and it's a big opportunity. We need to go down there and show up and work hard and execute, hopefully we'll do that and we'll come out of there feeling pretty good.
Q: What are your expectations for the team this season after a couple weeks of camp?
A: I have a lot of confidence in our team. I had a lot of confidence heading in and I think we put in a good amount of work and put out some pretty good film at times. We've got a long way to go, I'm glad we've got the five preseason games, that just gives us one more opportunity to accomplish our goals and that's making a run at the playoffs. We just have to take it day by day though and not look too far into the future.
WR Robert Woods
August 12, 2014
Q: Is it nice to have a day off from the grind of camp?
A: It's a good rest. I mean every break is good right now just to recover and just get ready to attack another week of work.
Q: What do you expect from these joint practices?
A: Just going out there and compete and work hard. New look, new defense. It's going to be physical I feel like, going against another team. Don't know each other, trying to prove a point. We've just got to be prepared for everything.
Q: Don't you think this trip can be a real measuring stick for you guys?
A: Right, I think so. Just all the work that we've put in it's really going to be like another game for us because there's a new team and, like I said, everybody is going to be going hard. It's just a good measuring stick for us going into the season.