ORCHARD PARK, NY - (WKBW/Bills Press Release) Below are comments from the Bills following Monday's practice:
HC Doug Marrone
Monday, August 26, 2013
I know we have a lot of questions. I’m here to answer them.
Q: Can you give an update on Stephon Gilmore?
A: Yeah, obviously we’ve taken x-rays and obviously it’s a wrist. We believe it’ll be six to eight weeks that he will be out.
Q: How much of an impact is losing a player of his caliber at this stage?
A: Obviously we felt really good about him and he’s put a lot of work in to try to be the best player at his position. I give him a lot of credit for that. He’s really had an outstanding camp and really played extremely well for us. It’s unfortunate, with the amount of work he’s put in, to be in a situation now where he’s not going to be able to participate for a period of time. Whenever you lose a player like that, we consider a very good player, someone has to step up and play that position. Right now we’re looking at the (a few) players right now. We’re looking at (Justin) Rogers and (Crezdon) Butler and (T.J.) Heath, all really have played at that corner position.
Q: Is it a break in the wrist?
A: It’s a fracture.
Q: So he won’t require surgery?
A: Yes, he will.
Q: When you lose a guy like that who probably has had some of the defense designed around how he can cover man-to-man, how does that impact what you want to do defensively?
A: Right now we’re going to evaluate to see where we are with that. To see what the abilities are with those players that we have out there are over these next couple of days. Then I think you really have to look hard at match-ups really. Do we feel good about these match-ups and how do we want to match-up defensively on team’s receiving ability. So if you don’t feel comfortable in a match-up, then obviously you can cloud them, put someone behind them. At the end of the day if you just have single coverage, man-to-man, they can get to you. It’s probably more schematic about how you want to go about it. Which puts a little bit more planning on our part, but that’s what we do. Our job is to put our players in the best position.
Q: Will you designate him for the return option on the IR?
Q: How did it happen?
A: I think I know the play. He was bailing on a slant and then coming up to make the play, I think there was a collision and I think it was somewhere in the second quarter if I’m not mistaken. He wound up playing more after that and then obviously the pain took over once the adrenaline of playing wore down and that’s how that occurred.
Q: When he missed that interception, that might be when it was bothering him?
A: No I think it was on the slant play. Again I just go by when you go back and you look and you say, ‘When did it happen?’ I think we all go through that and then you see the tape on that play, he tried to get the ball out and his hand was extended and there was a collision. When he went down you could see that little bit of hesitation where you can say, ‘Oh that must have been where it happened.’ I think a lot of times with players, with all of the adrenaline in a game and you’re playing a lot of times, sometimes you don’t know when it happened. All of the sudden you come off the field and you’re like ‘Oh, what happened? I feel sore, this hurts’ or you think it’s going to go away and then sometimes you can’t recall a specific play.
Q: When you look at the quarterback situation and you see who is out there, is it as crazy to you as it is to everybody else?
A: Well I don’t know if I would use the word crazy, but I would say it’s a little bit of adversity for sure. Obviously it wasn’t the plan of what happens. I think that going back and like I said after the game, we went in with a plan to draft a quarterback and this goes way back to the initial stages of where we were going to go with our numbers. We were going to draft a quarterback and we knew we wanted to go to camp with three, with the thought process being more playing time, better reps, more quality reps during that to try to get somebody ready to be the starting quarterback. I think you look at EJ (Manuel) and his performances in the preseason and I think we’ve benefited from that. Not looking now on Monday morning quarterback situation, you’re looking at it saying ‘now you’ve got two quarterbacks that are not participating in practice.’ Everyone is like ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ I look back and I'd still make the same decision. If you have to plan on injuries you find yourself talking yourself out of so many situations of what you might do. Right now we’re planning on Jeff Tuel playing the first game and we’re working with EJ to get back as quickly as possible. The good part about it is yesterday he worked out on the field; he’s working back there, so he’s actually starting to move around now, which is a good sign. Then it’s just a matter of how he heals and he repairs. When he comes back he’ll be our quarterback.
Q: First game meaning Detroit or first game meaning New England?
A: No, first game meaning New England. Yes that’s the first game.
Q: Tuel will start the first game?
A: Right now that’s how we’re going about planning on doing it until we know more about where EJ is.
Q: Was yesterday the first time on the field for EJ Manuel?
A: Yes. When I say working out on the field, not for us, but for the trainers.
Q: Is it unsettling that you may have an undrafted rookie quarterback going against the Patriots?
A: I’m excited about it.
Q: That’s a lot to overcome.
A: Pretty exciting.
Q: You had said you weren’t that concerned about EJ’s surgery. We assumed he’d be back for the New England game.
A: That’s what I’m still hoping for.
Q: You’re hoping, but planning for Tuel?
A: It was probably the same way (then) and I probably miscommunicated it in the beginning.
Q: So you’re planning on Tuel being the guy?
A: We’re planning on that now because he’ll be the guy out there practicing and then as soon as we get EJ out there practicing, then obviously things will change.
Q: Can you give an update on QB Kevin Kolb?
A: Well obviously he has a concussion and there’s a protocol, even myself, I had to go online and look at what that is and I think we can all do that. He’s in that and I think the alarming thing to me was obviously when the report was made about him not ever playing. I had a conversation with Kevin this morning and he’s not even close to the process of that type of decision or making it. Now, I do think that with the concussion he’ll be out for some time. He’s told me that he has not even discussed or thought about stopping playing or anything like that. He’s not even in that thought process right now. Right now he’s in the thought process of really clearing up and going through the process of clearing up the concussion.
Q: What makes it exciting to possibly be starting Jeff Tuel against the Patriots?
A: Because it’s fun. You’ve got a guy out there that’s played a lot and has a lot of snaps. It’s exciting to get out there and play. It’s a great opportunity for him if that’s what presents itself. I’m not trying to play games with anyone. Right now we have to prepare, he’s the quarterback that’s out there and we have to prepare for him to be that guy and to hold the situation until it changes and we get EJ back.
Q: You have to look big picture with EJ too. To rush him back now could be counterproductive to his career down the road.
A: Exactly right.
Q: Would you say then that the reports about Kevin’s concussion being career threatening may have been jumping the gun a little bit?
A: I just know that it didn’t come from him. I think anytime a player is injured, and I really believe this and it doesn’t matter especially now, I think we all understand the issues of concussions. We all understand the issues of multiple concussions, that these things can be part of the thought process at the right time. I’m just saying that that hasn’t been a thought process for him at this time. I think its important then, and I’ve been involved at the collegiate level where a player has had multiple ones and he has stopped playing. That comes I think when, ‘Ok where are at? What’s going on?’ That’s a lot of personal discussions that go on within a player and his family or the agent, whoever it may be. I’m not saying that it’s not a possibility because I think with a lot of injuries it is. It’s a tough game that we play. I think that can I foresee that being a case and that being discussed? I can’t answer that question and that’s what I asked Kevin about this morning. Right now he’s concentrating on going through the protocol, getting better and then seeing what’s going on. There is a lot of emotion; there are a lot of discussions, as lot of things out there. So I just think he’s trying to get everything straight.
Q: Is Kevin a candidate for the IR?
A: That’s the one thing that’s the same thing. We’re waiting to see what the protocol goes and then be able to talk to him. I think that’s a day to day thing that we have to make a decision on, obviously before the final cut.
Q: Is Matt Leinart positioned as the backup going in to the New England game?
A: I think it is way too early for me to say that. Obviously we made a trade for Thaddeus Lewis with Chris White. He has the skills that we like. We’ll see how that works out and the same with Matt (Leinart). We wanted someone that was out there and a good fit to bring in. Being the best guy that we felt that was out there right now. I think it’s just day-to-day, watching them and evaluating them as we go on.
Q: He always has seemed to have that effortless release. Did you see some of the same stuff that made him attractive all those years ago?
A: Yeah, there’s probably no one that did more work on him than when we were at New Orleans. At the time he was coming out and we didn’t have a quarterback in New Orleans and we put a lot of work in to Matt. We had him and had him do a lot of things because at the time we didn’t have Drew Brees when Matt was coming out. I have a very good feel of who he was coming out. I don’t know now, there’s been a lot of time. I think they go out there and basically these two gentlemen have an opportunity depending on what goes on with the roster. I really don’t know until I see them and evaluate them. I have a short period of time to do that before we make any decisions.
Q: How much work did Jairus Byrd do today?
A: Right now we have him, obviously we worked him out before the Washington game, you obviously saw that. Today I think you saw that we worked him during individual. We’re just working him back in. I think that this week with things going well, we’d like to work him in to some of the team stuff.
Q: His presence out there, what does that bring to the rest of the defense?
A: I think it’s great to have him back. I think the players are excited. Obviously he’s played with a lot of these guys and has played at a very high level. To be back to the team, I’m sure it’s comforting for both sides. I’m sure it’s comfortable for Jairus to be back with his teammates and playing football, which I think is what he is. He’s a true pro; I mean he really is a professional in how he handles himself. I think he’s probably in a comfortable place being around his teammates, which he cares about and they care about him.
Q: Can you envision playing him on Thursday?
A: Probably not.
Q: With time so short for quarterbacks, what’s realistic for them in terms of executing the offense against Detroit?
A: Which ones? The new ones we brought in? Obviously we’re not going to be able to execute the whole plan. Right now we’re just working on a lot of the fundamental and foundation things. Especially going in to this last game. What we’re concentrating on now is really working on the things that we haven’t really seen during the preseason. Schematically and what we haven’t gotten enough work in. That’s what we’re doing now. Working on that, making sure the foundation is in and then really going out there Thursday night and not to say, obviously all of these preseason games we really don’t game plan like you would a normal game. You probably spend a day, day and a half and it’s really quick. This one, obviously as coaches we’re starting to prepare for the first two games of the season and doing all the checking. Then going in to the last preseason game and just going in and playing with, I don’t want to say a skeleton game plan, but a pretty tight game plan. Obviously it will have to be tighter with the new quarterbacks.
Q: Have you thought about how you will handle your quarterbacks in the game on Thursday given the injuries that have happened?
A: It’s interesting. You lose two on plays that you wouldn’t necessarily think. I don’t want to say they were non-contact because obviously there was contact, but it’s bad luck really when you look at it. To answer your question, I think one when you look at it I’m a big believer that everyone, just like I told the team, should be mentally prepared to play. I think because that effects how you practice during the week. If I was in to tell the players, ‘Hey this is what we’re doing, don’t be ready to play’, I think they won’t practice as well as they’ve done. So the philosophy going in to this last game is we’re going to get everyone ready to play, so they’re ready to go and then honestly we’re just going to be smart about what we do in that game with who plays and who doesn’t.
Q: You cut five guys today; did it just not work out maturity wise with Da’Rick Rogers?
A: I think it’s interesting. I think when you look at the different teams I’ve been a part of, he definitely has skill, along with DeMarco Sampson who played well for us in the preseason. I think when you look at production of that group and who has produced for a long period of time, I think it’s a matter of it’s just as simple as we feel we have better players on the roster right now than the players we released. That’s what I’ve communicated to them. We have to be, I’m a big believer on the production part of it right now, rather than what are we going to get down the road. So I think all of those players that were released have the ability to play, but we feel as an organization that we just have better players right now.
Q: Can you discuss C.J. Spiller’s absence?
A: Yeah, I talked to him when we landed from the Washington game. I obviously excused him to be able to go back and handle obviously what is a personal situation. I don’t have anything more to report than really what I said before. I just know what’s been in the paper, obviously I’ve read that. I think we all feel the same way. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims as well as CJ and his family in this situation. We’re in communication; I don’t have any answer of when he’s going to come back. We’re in communication just making sure that we’re there to support him, that he’s doing well and then obviously we’re monitoring of when he needs to come back. We want to make sure that he handles what he needs to handle.
Q: Obviously that’s a devastating thing to go through. How have you read C.J. in terms of how he is feeling?
A: I think you can describe his mood by everyone of us, putting yourself in that situation. I think if we all did that, I think we all could figure out the type of person that C.J. is and how he must feel.
Q: The CBA is new for all of us when we go through these things for rosters. You mentioned that Stephon won’t be a candidate for the temporary IR designation. Can you explain why that is?
A: Sure. That rule, what it is is you’re allowed to have, and I hope I’m right on this, so bear with me because I think we’re all in the same boat. To give you the gist of it, is that we’re allowed, it’s like an exemption, you can take one player and say we’re going to put him on a list that he doesn’t count against a roster spot. He has to remain on that list for eight weeks and I believe it is when the injury occurs. After that eight weeks are over he has the ability to come back and play. The reason why with Stephon that we don’t feel that fits him, is because we believe that he’ll be back earlier than the eight weeks. We know in our mind he’ll be back earlier, so again we don’t want a player that is able to play, and you guys know how we feel about him, coming back that could potentially play for two or three weeks during the season and just because we designated him as that lose three weeks of game time for him. I think that’s the best way to explain it.
Q: Will you consider doing that with Kolb?
A: I don’t know if we’re at that stage right now, but I think it’s definitely an option in talking to the doctors. I think again with the concussion, and I think we’re all in the same boat, it’s a tough situation. Like I said before, the league and the doctors have done a great job in getting everything up to speed. It’s this large protocol, which I schooled myself on last night trying to understand it, that they go through and I think as they go through it there’s no predictability as with a normal injury to see where they’re at. Again, that could potentially become an option for us.
Q: How hard will it be for Stephon with a wrist injury seeing as he is a pressing corner?
A: I don’t think it will be a difficult situation from my experience with former players who’ve had the same thing. You have the fracture, you have the surgery and the you come back and it’s actually stronger than it was before. I don’t foresee that as a problem nor have I had players in the past have that problem.
Q: Not that there hasn’t been any good news, but how have you dealt with the series of bad news?
A: It’s funny, when it used to happen my first thought process when I was younger was when these things happened; I would say to myself ‘What did I do in my past to deserve this?’ I think we all go through times like this. I go to church on Sunday, I’m a good father, a good husband. Why did this happen? I think that we have to learn that in life and I take it more toward life than I do toward just the game. I compare life to the game of football quite a bit for our players. Obviously it’s adversity and how do you deal with it. One of the things that I have not spoke to the team about that we’ll talk about is ‘You know what, there’s adversity and there’s time for other people to take advantage of it and step up and how we deal with it.’ I think you have to be careful. I think a lot of times, what will come out of media or come out of fans or even sometimes management, what will come out is, ‘Well here you’ve got this guy playing quarterback or you’ve got this guy playing corner. What’re you going to do?’ You talk to other players on the team and they’re like ‘we have to step it up to help them.’ That’s really not what they have to do. What they have to do is just do their job and just do what they’re supposed to do. That player will step up and be ready to go. I think that’s the point of a 53 man roster. Everyone has a role and it’s important, now I haven’t spoken to the team yet because we’re not there yet, but I’m a firm believer that when you sit in that room and there are 53 guys there, everyone has to understand their role. Everyone’s role has to be that they’re ready to play in that situation. That’s why they’re there. If something happens with an injury, someone has to go in and be ready to play and be ready to go. I think that’s how you address it. Sometimes, it’s interesting now because obviously I would definitely view this situation as adversity, so it’s interesting to see for me, I think sometimes true character does come out whether it’s management, whether it’s coaches, whether it’s players, to see how we’re dealing with it. Now you don’t like to deal with it, but it is what it is. We’re seeing a lot from the coaches and the players of how we deal with this type of adversity. Right now it’s been good. We went out there today and really had a good practice. Now it’ll be interesting when we start going in to the season and the first week and how players do.
QB Jeff Tuel
August 26, 2013
Q: How crazy is to think of yourself as going from a few months ago not being drafted to playing on opening day in the NFL possibly?
A: Just explains that you can never expect, you can never know what’s going to happen in this league, you’ve always got to be ready. That’s why I’ve said since the day I walked in this building that I’m going to prepare myself because you never know what could happen. Even going back in college, I had my redshirt burned freshman year, the first time I played was in the Coliseum against USC in 2009, so it’s happened to me before. I came here and started just preparing like I was a starter since day one. It can happen.
Q: If you start you’d become the first undrafted rookie to start a season opener.
A: That’s cool. Didn’t know that. It’s pretty cool, it would definitely be an honor if that’s the case. I’m surprised that I’m the first if that’s the case, but like I said it’s a cool thing.
Q: How awkward was it today being on the practice field helping Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis get through practice when you were the inexperienced one just four months ago?
A: I don’t know if awkward is the right word, but it was a little strange, odd. It’s just a completely different scenario. It’s two new guys and like you said, I’m the veteran now all of the sudden. I have to tell these guys the footwork, the progressions, stuff like that. I was telling Matt, it’s just funny how things circle around and you meet people. Last time I saw Matt I was watching him in the Rose Bowl in the National Championship against Texas and I was in the stands. I was like in eighth grade or something. Now here we’re on the same squad. It’s just crazy how things work out. It’s really neat. Just enjoying every second of it.
Q: Is there anything you did since you’ve got here that is paying off now that you’re in this position?
A: I think everything that Coach Hackett has had me do was a great idea. He’s really treated every quarterback equally. He doesn’t play any favorites or anything like that. He really gives his all in each rep every quarterback takes. That’s huge and speaks volumes for his coaching. It’s helped me tremendously because when I was with the threes, I was taking those limited reps, he was still coaching me like I was the number one guy and still telling me those things. I think the biggest thing is I’ve tried to concentrate on just being a sponge and listening to everything when I’m not in. Whatever he’s telling EJ (Manuel) or Kevin (Kolb), so I can try to learn from the mistakes they make when I get the opportunity. That’s really been huge for me, when I’m not on the field, just to soak it all in, the coaching points that he’s giving to the other guys.
Q: What’s going to be your greatest challenge coming up before the season opener?
A: I think just earning the trust of my teammates and getting everybody to trust me. Building that relationship with some of the one’s that I haven’t been able to over the camp because I haven’t thrown any balls to Stevie Johnson or T.J. Graham or guys like that. Even in RBA’s it’s kind of scripted so Kevin and EJ were throwing with those guys and I was throwing with the two’s and three’s. Just getting used to how they run routes and certain timing routes is going to be the biggest challenge to be able to put the ball where I need to put it. Just like today a couple times I found myself a little late to Stevie because he does things a little differently and quicker and stuff like that. That’s going to be the biggest challenge for me, just getting to know my guys and getting on the same page as them.
QB Matt Leinart
August 26, 2013
Q: Did you get a kick out of the fact that Jeff Tuel said he saw you play in the Rose Bowl while he was in the stands as an eighth grader?
A: Yeah, it’s just crazy. I feel like this is my eight season and I said the same thing to Tyrone Wheatley; I was watching you when I was a little kid and he got mad at me. Tuel in 2006 was a youngster who went to the game. It’s fun to be in a new team and meet new guys. I remember being in Jeff’s shoes, a little bit different obviously, but just eight years ago.
Q: Were you starting to wonder when you would be picked up?
A: It was definitely a humbling experience this offseason. For me, I just really continued to work hard. I know I still have a lot of football left in me. This business, as you guys all know, is as crazy as it can be, especially at the quarterback position. You just never know what can happen, so my main focus was just to keep my head down, keep working, keep chipping away and hope for an opportunity. That’s all you can do. I was productive this offseason in California, just working out and staying in shape. I’ve been staying in shape all the way until the other day when I got the call. Obviously I know nothing is guaranteed, ever. But I’m just happy to be here and excited to play football. I was getting bored with the monotony, every day the same thing. It’s just exciting to be with the guys and just be playing. That’s what I’m most excited about.
Q: Is this all a little surreal, how all of this has come together?
A: That’s the thing, with football it’s crazy. I think he (Jeff Tuel) was undrafted and now all of the sudden he has potential to start Week One against New England. From what I’ve seen and I’ve been reading prior to even signing is he’s a talented player. He’s a smart kid and as long as I’m here I know I’ll help him out, at the same time competing and pushing each other. It’s just crazy. I told him in this league anything can happen; you always have to stay ready.
Q: What are your expectations?
A: It’s just learning the playbook as fast as I can. I have some relationship with Nate Hackett previously, not football, but I’ve known him for a while so that makes it a little easier. Just learning and knowing what type of coach he is. I’m just going to try and compete every day. I know I’m going to play Thursday night, so I’m excited about that opportunity. It’s just to go out there and play. Play ball and for me there’s not really at this point, I don’t feel like there’s anything to lose. That’s exciting for me because I’ve had a lot of pressure over the years and looking over my shoulder and different. In Arizona, whatever it was it was a long time ago. This year I’m just excited to be here obviously ad humbled and just thankful for the opportunity.
QB Thad Lewis
August 26, 2013
Q: Did you see a trade coming?
A: I didn’t expect anything. I actually was home and my agent called me and was like ‘you’re going to be traded to the Buffalo Bills.’ Then I got a call and was like ‘can you pack up and catch the 10 o’clock flight in?’ And I was like ‘yeah, I guess I can.’ It all happened so fast, but I definitely didn’t see it coming.
Q: What do you expect to do here?
A: You can’t expect much, but to come in and try to learn the system. Whatever else happens after that happens. You just have to worry about the things you can control and the things I can control is to come in and help the team out in the best way I can. Obviously catch up with the system because I haven’t been here.
Q: Initial thoughts on the system?
A: You kind of like it. I see the talent they have with the young receivers and the running backs and things of that nature. You kind of want to get up to speed as quick as possible because they have the talent around and the system is not hard, I’m pretty familiar with a little bit of the west coast since I was in it in Cleveland, so just different terminology. Once I learn that language I’ll be ok.
Q: What do you make of what is happening here at quarterback?
A: Can’t make much of it. It’s an unfortunate situation with what happened with the other two guys. You just have to come in and try to help out in the best way you can. Football is crazy and it’s unfortunate, but sometimes it’s the next guy up and you have to just be ready when your number is called.
Q: With time being so short, how do you compress all of that stuff in to a very short window of time that you have here?
A: You dive headfirst in to it. Pretty much learn the basics and then you just let coach know what you’re comfortable with running. They’ll work with you, they don’t want to see you fail; they don’t want to see you to look bad out there, so they’ll work with you. Just tell them what you’re comfortable with and things you’ve learned and what you can do the best. They’ll call those plays for you and hopefully it works out for the best for you out there on the field.