PITTSFORD, NY - (WKBW/Bills Press Release) Below are quotes from Bills coaches following practice:
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Training Camp – August 13, 2013
To start off, I am pleased with the last two days of practice that we’ve had. The players have come in, we played a game on Sunday and we’ve had two really good days of work. You can see it a little bit with the soreness. I don’t think there’s anything major to report. Just a lot of soreness and trying to see who we can get back for this game on Friday. One of the good things is that we practiced this morning. Now, there’s a large recovery time coming on since we don’t practice until tomorrow night. My message to the players was to make sure to stay of your feet, make sure we’re getting our treatments--knowing that this is the toughest stretch of camp.
Q: Did you lighten the load for Kiko Alonso today?
Q: Do you have an update on T.J. Graham?
A: I don’t foresee him this week. I think tomorrow he’ll start running a bit. When you get those types of things – little pulls, little strains – once you get them out there running, it becomes how they’re running full speed and how it feels. That’s why it’s tough to gauge when he’s coming back. Right now, in my mind, I’m thinking it’ll be after this game.
Q: Any update on Aaron Williams?
A: He just had some cramps.
Q: Any update on Thomas Welch?
A: We’re not sure what it is. We think it may be – I don’t know if it’s a strain, they didn’t have a chance (to evaluate it) because it just happened.
Q: What are your thoughts on Kevin Kolb today?
A: I was happy with today. Obviously, I watched him closely yesterday. I watched him again today. I thought today he looked really good to a point now where he’s practicing and we’ll get him ready to play.
Q: What is your reaction to Nathaniel Hackett’s comments about CJ Spiller?
A: First off, as far as the comment, obviously, I'm quite different than Coach Hackett in how I express myself. I think as coaches we need to be careful of what we say. I said that to Nathaniel and I said that to the team. I think we all knew what he meant but, again, in this day and age, not everybody that’s involved in the game in football, truly understands that. We want to be true professionals in how we represent our sport. Everybody knows that the reason why I’m here today is my love for the sport. There are a lot of other things that go on. As far his reference to that, I think we have a back that’s special. I think that we want to be able to give him enough touches during the year where it becomes effective for us. You have a player like CJ Spiller, and I think everyone’s aware of his talent. It’s a talent that we want to be able to lean on. When you have a young football team, and a quarterback competition, I feel very good that we have both CJ and Fred (Jackson) back there that have done a good job and have been very productive players. We expect them to be productive going into this upcoming year.
Q: CJ Spiller has the goal to gain 2,000 yards this season. Is that realistic given his lack of size?
A: I think the human spirit is a funny thing. You can never underestimate the power of that. I coached a Hall of Fame running back (Curtis Martin) that many people said at times that wasn’t going to be able to play. And then he was the oldest player to win the rushing title. I think a lot of people on the outside would have said that there’s no way that was going to be possible, but I think if you ask the player, in his mind, he always thought it was possible. He’s one of the few players, and there’s not many, that you talk about your mind over your body. He would be able to do that. I think you see that with a lot of the players that are out here. In this game, we all know that there’s an expiration date on everyone’s body. You have to make sure that you have a strong mind and push through it.
Q: What do you see from the wide receiver position after Stevie Johnson?
A: I think we have some good, young talent. I think that the one thing, and I’ll tell you this, it’s the truth. Those young receivers are working their butts off on special teams. I think that’s what comes down to at the end: who’s playing well on special teams? Right now, there’s a lot of good things going on with that group, and there are going to be a lot of tough decisions. So how does someone separate themselves? Probably how they are going to contribute to the team outside of being a wide receiver. That’s one of these things that are going to be a deciding factor looking at the receiving corps when it comes down to making the roster.
Q: Can you talk about Chris Hogan’s progression during camp?
A: He has been very consistent for us. A big thing about it is availability. He’s been available all the time. And he’s gotten better. He’s progressed. He’s had a very good camp, and again, it’s one of those things where he’s right there in the mix, playing well, playing hard to make this roster and that’s what you want to see. The one thing, talking about a step further, that’s one thing you do want to see when you do make the team. Are you still hungry? Are you still lean? I talked to the players about that the other day. Do you get fat and sassy when you come to that? I think in this sport, it’s a high-performance sport. You have to stay hungry all the time and you have to stay lean.
Q: With Leodis McKelvin hurt and Jairus Byrd not at camp, is there any concern at the DB position?
A: I would like to have Leodis back and playing, but obviously we want to be smart about it and bring him back when he’s fully healed and ready to go. Knowing that he’s going to be back, it provides a sense of – I don’t know if comfort is the right word – that he’s coming back. We feel good how the other players are developing and competing behind him. We have a lot of options there, as well as we have a lot of options in our safety position that can do that. As far as going out and looking somewhere else for that player who may not be in camp right now, I don’t see that. We have enough players here to make us sleep better at night.
Q: What’s your philosophy on returning deep kickoffs after what Marquise Goodwin showed in Sunday’s game?
A: We have a process, obviously. It’s a mental clock in his head. If it’s up high and it’s deep, he’s back there seven or eight yards, he understands that the coverage will be a whole lot tighter. But if that ball is kicked and we don’t feel that the hang time is as high as deep kick, we know the coverage isn’t as far down the field, we think that’s a feel. A feel for that kick returner. That’s one of the things we talked about. If it’s a line drive and it’s one yard back before this end line and it’s a line drive, we’ll take it out. It makes sense to take it out. But if it’s a 4.8 or 4.9 and it’s back there at the one, then they’ll probably be around that 15 yard line. That’s some tough odds. Again, it’s a point of a systematic process of how you analyze it.
Q: Can you talk about the speed of Marquise Goodwin and what he adds to the offense?
A: He has speed, and like I always said, Coach McPherson, my college coach, would always tell us that luck follows speed. I agree with that statement. I think that what people tend to do is focus on Marquise’s speed, but Robert Woods has speed, T.J. (Graham) has speed, obviously CJ Spiller has speed. I’ve made this point before where we have much more team speed than we’ve had before. Sometimes, a lot of things are one-on-one and people defend everyone, the whole field, you’re talking about a missed tackle with someone that can hopefully that can go to the end zone. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.
Q: What has Alex Carrington shown you through this camp?
A: I have nothing but the utmost respect for him, especially all those guys who play up front on the offensive and defensive lines. They’re hitting every day. There’s contact every day. You have to work hard every single practice, every single play. He has done all of that. When I think of a true professional, I think of him along with a lot of other guys on that defensive line and the offensive line. That’s what’s going to get us better--how they go about their business and the way they work.
Q: What are your impressions of Kendall Gaskins?
A: He was out for a little bit. He was out for a little while. Coming back in there, he’s coming back in the mix. I think he has the ability, he is a bigger back, he has the ability to break tackles. I’m looking forward to him getting in there and doing that more.
Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
Training Camp — August 13, 2013
Q: What have been your thoughts on Chris Hogan?
A: We call him 7-11. He’s always open. He’s done a really good job. He’s one of those guys, from a quarterbacks standpoint, you know right where he’s going to be. He runs very good routes. He made some great plays today. He’s a guy that definitely opens your eyes. You want him out there. The quarterbacks love when he’s out there.
Q: What were your thoughts about the two quarterbacks in the preseason game?
A: I thought they did okay. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement for both of them. I think when you look at EJ (Manuel), he was very excited. I mean, heck, as a rookie you come in your first game and you’re on the minus two yard line. That’s one of those things where I’m sitting up there going, are you serious? First drive of your career both of us and there he is on the two-yard line. And I thought his demeanor was great out there. He was a little bit fired up I think. You could kind of feel it. But once he settled down and got to play how EJ wants to play, I think you’ve kind of seen him come into his own. And it was really pleasing to see that kind of the stuff earlier didn’t bother him. He just wanted more reps and keep going out there. And I appreciate that from EJ. And then Joe Cool Jeff (Tuel). Heck, he just goes out there and just makes plays. I mean he trusts the reads, he trusts his progressions and it was fun to watch. Both of them had some critical errors that we need to clean up and get better at. But both of them are going to continue to get better. For two rookies going into your first game, I thought they did a really nice job. A lot of room for improvement for both of them.
Q: How do you decide how many wide receivers to keep?
A: I have no clue. That’s a great question. Put them all out there. I mean they’re all competing hard and it’s fun to watch them go out there and play. Today we had some great wide receiver play. And the more competition we have, the better everybody is going to be. We just have to keep pushing them and I think it’ll all get sorted out once we get closer to when we have to make those critical decisions. But right now, I’m just having fun having that many of them out there.
Q: Is it a switch for you to be upstairs during the games? How much different is it up there for you?
A: It’s funny. I’ve gone back and forth on that. I did it some at Syracuse. I really got excited a lot. I was brought here to call plays and that’s the one time those couples hours I am supposed to be calm and relaxed. And I think that when we’re out here at practice, they have to feel that energy. They have to always want to go harder. I always want them to hear me in the back of their minds when they’re out there on the field. But up in the box, I’m there to call the right play at the right time. And I think that I have to be calm, cool and collected and get that in there. That’s what I’m brought here for and I love it. It is hard because you do want to go down there and celebrate and pick them up when bad things happen and get them going. But sometimes you have to pick the right thing to be successful.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine
Training Camp — August 13, 2013
Q: Can you talk about the transition of Aaron Williams to safety and how has he come along?
A: Very pleased, at least with where he is. It was good to see it carrying over in the preseason game. Made some (plays), was on point with all of the checks. We didn’t have any mental errors in the back end. He’s a big part of that. He just showed his explosiveness on the play he made down on the goal line. Tried to get picked and he fought over the top and made a nice hit, knocked the ball loose on 3rd-and-short. He’s on schedule as far as being prepared to play that spot.
Q: Was it a better day today for the defense?
A: Yeah, to me it was. I’ve got to peek at the tape, but at first glance I just like the energy our guys had today. It would be easy to come out after we played Sunday, practiced yesterday and then came out again today, for guys to be dragging a little bit. We’ve done a good job. The assistants have done a good job making sure their guys energized and ready to go. I thought our guys flew around today pretty good.
Q: What stood out to you after reviewing tape from Sunday’s performance?
A: Very pleased with how hard our guys played: the effort, the energy. They were passionate. You could tell they were having fun. That was one thing that jumped out. From a schematics standpoint, I was very pleased with the lack of mental errors. I think it was very few especially with the first group. And the thing I was real pleased with, tribute to the defensive staff, was how well prepared our back-up guys were, the guys who played late in the game that are fighting for those last roster spots. A lot of times your first group will go out and do well, and then, all of a sudden, there’s a big drop off. That’s a big part of coaching: having the ability to coach those guys that are getting in the game late. I was really pleased that those guys came in and competed. I think we gave up a first down the first play of the second half, and then it was a long time before we gave up another one. There’s no substitute for winning, and that was something we stressed to our guys all week. People talk in the preseason that winning isn’t important. We disagree with that. That’s something we wanted to make sure those young guys, if we got them a lead defensively, that we weren’t going to let go of it.
Q: How do you feel the defensive interior players shaking out?
A: Sometimes when you have those guys, you always want to get a look. Sometimes you can get fooled by them if they’re going against the twos and threes, whether it’s your own team or in a preseason game. So we like to rotate those guys up. It’s pretty clear to us that we’re going to have some pretty tough decisions to make in that room. That’s always a good problem to have. You know you’ve built some depth at a position when you start to look at the math and figure out that there’s probably going to be some pretty good football players that we are going to have to part ways with.