LATROBE, PA - Below are transcripts, provided by the Buffalo Bills, from the Bills joint practice with the Steelers.
GM Doug Whaley
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Opening Statement: First of all, I want to thank everybody for coming out. It’s good to be back, especially on a day where we were dedicating a bench in the honor of the late Bill Nunn. A lot of you guys who know me know that he’s one of the main reasons I’m in front of you today. Saying that, I just want to open it up for questions.
Q: How do you describe coming back here?
A: It’s great. You get a giddy feeling. I cut my teeth here and many people in the organization are still here, so to get to see them and catch up with them. It’s like a second home. Really excited to be back. Really excited for the players and the fans and everybody out there to see what those guys are going to put on for everybody out there.
Q: What about this organization do you want to rub off on your players?
A: Their toughness and their idea that nothing less is expected than a championship. That’s what we’re trying to get to. Practicing against these guys, like you said, will hopefully rub off on our guys.
Q: Is it an advantage for you to know the Steelers organization and personnel as well as you do?
A: I would say it would’ve been maybe a couple years ago, but there’s been so much turnover. What we’re really looking for though is the evaluation process of our players against someone new. How they respond to the adversity of taking a bus trip here. New surroundings. New settings. In this game you’re going to have adversity and how you respond to it. This is a situation where you can control it and let’s see how our guys respond.
Q: What are the big things you learned from Bill Nunn?
A: The main thing is that if you believe it don’t be afraid to step on the table and make the deal. Obviously, you guys can see that that’s something I do.
Q: Any flashbacks to your time with the Steelers?
A: Absolutely. It was a great time. I got two Super Bowl rings from it. I worked for one of the best organizations, best owners, best family in football the Rooney Family, Kevin Colbert, Coach [Bill] Cowher, Mike Tomlin, all those guys, Dick LeBeau. There were some good memories.
Q: Anything specific from Latrobe itself?
A: Just the food and the wings. I won’t publicize any places, but the food is really good.
Q: Did you have Bill [Nunn] in mind when you moved up to take Sammy Watkins this year?
A: I did. I always remember him saying, “Don’t ever be afraid to make the deal.’ That was one of the things in the back of my head. If you believe in it and it’s fair. Don’t be crazy, but if it’s fair then go ahead.
Q: Do you have anything to say about the C.J. Spiller trade rumors?
A: We have not been contacted by any team about CJ Spiller. These rumors are news to me. It’s exciting I guess to you guys because it gives you something to fill the newspaper with. Again, no one, I’ll tell you guys and you know I’m a straight shooter. We have not been contacted by any teams. I can probably see where people see our depth at running back and try to connect the dots with teams that don’t have depth, but, again, nobody has contacted us.
Q: Any status on the contract negotiations with Jerry Hughes?
A: Right now, no. We don’t like to negotiate through the press, but we’re excited to see what Jerry can do and hopefully he’ll back-up that 10-sack season with another multi-sack season.
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Q: What are you looking forward to most about getting a different look?
A: I’m excited to see the guys going out there and competing and having an opportunity to get ourselves better and helping our evaluation process. There are a lot of great things to this. Mainly, strategically and schematically some of the things we don’t see during our own training camp against our defense. Stuff that’ll help us prepare for the season. I think there’s a lot of things that can come out of this, so I’m excited about it.
Q: Are there any players that didn’t make the trip and didn’t practice because of injury?
A: Scott Berchtold: I’ll give it to them afterwards.
Q: How did this come about? Did you call Coach Tomlin or did he reach out to you?
A: I think initially it really came out in the interview process when I was interviewing. They were talking about philosophies of practice and what you want to do. I’ve always liked [this]. This Is not the first time I’ve done this. I’ve done this as a player and as a coach and I said, ‘Hey, this is one of the things I want to look at that we can do.’ We had the plusses and minus and then, when we sat down and talked about it, I think Doug Whaley had a lot do with it also. Obviously, his relationships in Pittsburgh and my respect for Coach Tomlin and the job he’s done and schematically the things that Pittsburgh does that we really need to see. That’s probably how it originated. Then Coach Tomlin and I had gotten together, working this stuff out and we’re both excited from it.
Q: Fred Jackson and Robert Woods both said that they expect it to be more competitive now that you guys are going against another team. How much more competitive do you expect this environment to be?
A: I hope they’re competitive all the time and that’s why I say that. Especially, at this time of year during camp that they get themselves better. But it’s different. I’ve always believed in training camp. Sometimes you go against the same person the whole time. Sometimes either you match up well against that person or you don’t and we as coaches have to constantly move them around to get a good evaluation. But, here, they go against somebody else, so you get a better evaluation. If it doesn’t become more competitive, I’d be naïve to say it doesn’t, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for our players [to be competitive] and I’m sure all of our coaches are looking for our players to be competitive all the time.
Q: Do you and Doug Whaley mesh with his background coming from the Steelers?
A: Like you said before, the Steelers organization has toughness and winning. There’s a lot going on. It’s a good test for our guys to come out here and practice against them. Coach [Tomlin] and I spoke about our players going out there and being competitive and helping each other.
Q: Given the accolades on the defensive line, what are you’re expectations for them?
A: I feel comfortable with where we are with our front defensive line. I’m looking to see how the players behind those players respond, but don’t get me wrong. It’s an opportunity for all of us to get better. Just because you’ve played in this league for a long period of time and things like that, you have to get ready for the season. That’s the one thing about this league that’s so great. I’ve said this to the players before. You never stay the same. You’re either better or getting worse, so we all better be working on getting better.
Q: What sort of tolerance do you have for fighting in the next two days of practice?
A: None of us really have a tolerance for it. We’ve come out here to get some great work done. Both Coach Tomlin and I have spoken to each other quite a bit, we’ve spoken to our players quite a bit and our team and our coaches. It’s not part of the game. It really isn’t and we’re not looking for that.
Q: Will there be any suspension if there is fighting?
A: Coach Tomlin and I spoke about it. I feel good about keeping it between he and I. And I’d like to keep that between us.
Q: Do you think a combined practice brings an increased injury risk?
A: I personally don’t
Q: What have you seen from Jerry Hughes so far in camp
A: He’s done a nice job. He really has. I see him working on getting better.
Q: Do you have confidence in him defending the run?
A: He’s done very well in the past two games. This will be a good test for him the next couple of days and the rest of this preseason, but he’s performed well against the run against two pretty good veteran tackles.
Q: How important is this for a young guy like Sammy Watkins to face some new players covering him?
A: Will it be important? Absolutely. He’s played in two games now. This gives him more opportunity to get different looks, different techniques that other people teach. I think it’ll be a good experience for him. He’s very mature though. I guess what I want to say is that he’s probably going into this like a seasoned veteran would go into and trying to learn and everything else. He’s not as bright-eyed or anything. He’s looking to go out there and compete and get himself ready to play.
Q: Were you here in Latrobe as a player?
A: Yes, as one of the many teams I’ve been cut by.
Q: Anything you remember on the drive up?
A: Yep. A couple things. I remember walking out we used to run down the hill before practice to get ready to go with Coach Noll. I remember – I don’t know if they still do – do they still wear the black jersey’s without the numbers on them? Most of the guys in the room didn’t even realize that. I must be getting old. We had these black uniforms and it was hot. We used to call them burlap sacks on tap. They were tough. I just remember we used to run with our pads on with Coach Noll. I just real quickly went through that in my mind when I saw the fields.
Q: Do you do any scouting for the Steelers?
A: Honestly, I think, for me, it’s concentrating on our players and getting them better. I would think that Doug Whaley and his staff are probably more in tune towards that. We’ll be saying, ‘Oh, that’s a great play by this person for Pittsburgh or that person for Pittsburgh,’ but I don’t think we’re be going back and really try to study them as much as we’re looking at our players.
Q: Say they have some personnel that you would like to see a matchup against?
A: We discussed all that beforehand going into it. We’ll see. Through the repetitions and through everything we’ll see the matchups that we want. I think we’ll just go form there, rather than just saying, ‘Okay, wait a minute. I think that may take up too much time.’ We’re going out there just to compete
Q: How does this practice facility compare to yours?
A: I’ll probably be able to answer that question better. I haven’t been out on the field yet. I just arrived here.
Q: Is there anything you’re doing as a coach that you picked up from Coach Noll?
A: I just remember a lot of things, as a player, on that team. I was always intrigued about how intelligent he was about everything, not just the sport of football. Not being a very good football player and being on the look team, I’ll never forget Coach Noll used to jump in. I remember one practice he played the defensive end and I was playing the defensive tackle giving our offense a look during a walkthrough. I remember him explaining to me about a TE twist and an ET twist and how it came about and how the names were Exit and Texas. I just remember him explaining that to me. I thought it was pretty cool for him to talk to a guy that probably wasn’t going to make the roster and give me a bit of a history lesson. I just remember that when we used to leave here and go play in Pittsburgh they’d say, ‘Better get up before Coach Noll because if you pass him on the highway, he’s going take down your plate and he’s going to get after you for speeding.’ Those are just some things I remember.
DT Kyle Williams
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Q: What’s the main benefit of these practices?
A: I think the work is different. I think we get good work no matter what and we compete at home, but there was a different edge to this. A different view and it was a fun day.
Q: Does the change in environment break up training camp a bit for you?
A: I think as long as our camp has been or is going to be, we still have a little time left with the Hall of Fame game and construction going on at the stadium, it kind of breaks it up for us a little bit and that’s a good thing.
Q: How will these two days help leading up to preseason game against the same team?
A: It’s my first time. The last time they did it was the year before I was drafted. I don’t know how it will transfer to the game. I do know that while we’re out here right now we’ll get some good work in against a team that is a perennial power in the AFC.
QB EJ Manuel
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Q: How was the experience out there?
A: It was awesome. For this being my first time going against another team in practice, I thought it was really good for us, especially the offense. To play against a different group of guys for two days, they gave us a bunch of different looks and things like that, so we were chomping down on the film last night and preparing for them. I was proud of the way we came out and competed today. I’m sure the defense did a great job too.
Q: What was the environment like out there with the hitting right at the beginning?
A: That’s football. When you have a bunch of guys that want to come out and compete and put their best foot forward each and every day. That’s what you’re going to have. I think we’re all professionals, we know at the end of the day we can’t come out here and fist-fight or anything like that. We won’t get anything accomplished that way. You’re going to have some tussles here and there.
Q: Picking it up like this can only help you guys get better right?
A: No question. I think it kind of breaks up the monotony of training camp. You’re going against the same guys each and every day, but we don’t play those guys on Sundays. To have an opportunity to go against a different defense and different faces and obviously Coach (Dick) LeBeau is one of the best defensive coordinators in NFL history so to get a chance to go against him for two days (is great). For me, personally, to see Big Ben in action and watch him and see how he prepares for every practice and how he goes in-and-out of each day is a huge opportunity for me. I’m just trying to take advantage of it.
Q: Did you guys keep it simple in any aspects?
A: No, we played ball. We didn’t tone anything down. We did our normal protocol as far as our plays. It’s just a matter of us going out there and executing against what they’re doing on defense.
Q: How do you feel your day went?
A: I thought it went well. There were a few balls that I wish I could have back, but besides that I thought we were very good on third down. We executed early in practice and we were rolling. I got a chance to go with the first and the second group, so that was very good. The more at-bats I get, the happier I’ll be. Just getting the chance to be better each play.
Q: The tight ends are finally starting to get healthy as a group. Did you feel like you were on the same page as them today better than you had been at any point during camp?
A: I think it was just one of those days. I thought I’ve been on page or on mark with all of our guys. I think it’s just a matter of our quarterback play. You’ve got to be accurate and put the ball on them to allow them to make plays. I thought Scott (Chandler) did a great job and Lee (Smith) did a great job too. They just happened to be open and it’s just finding a cavity within their defense and that’s where they were. That’s what I did, just threw the ball to them.
Q: How was the speed compared to when you played them in the game last year?
A: It’s always different anytime you’re in a game atmosphere because you’re live. Not that it slows down at all for a quarterback, but a game is a game. It’s very hard to imitate a game in a practice atmosphere, but it was a step below a game. I still feel like those guys were coming and they were bringing their normal blitzes and we picked it up. The O-line did a great job protecting and it allowed me to get the ball out to our receivers.
Q: Doug Whaley has said that he hopes you can become a quarterback similar to Big Ben. How beneficial is it to hang around him these couple days?
A: It’s huge. I’ve always been a huge fan of Big Ben. Growing up in Virginia, it’s not too far from Pittsburgh and obviously early in his career he took those guys to a Super Bowl, so like I said earlier, to get an opportunity to come out and practice with him is awesome. I’m very excited about coming back out tomorrow and having another good day.
Q: What happened on the play where you got taken down?
A: I don’t know. I just remember I landed on the ground. I think it was just their pass rush got up in the backfield a little bit and I tried to step up and throw the ball and I just happened to fall.
Q: Did they hit your arm?
A: I think somebody went down low and I just kind of tripped over them. The ball was out, so I was fine. It’s nothing worry about.