PITTSFORD (WKBW) The Bills hit the field at St. John Fisher College for a night practice, the first one since their 19-16 loss at Pittsburgh in preseason game number three.
The Bills were without their top draft pick in Sammy Watkins, out with a rib injury. There is no timetable for his return.
Head Coach Doug Marrone also took questions about the first team offense, still without a touchdown in the preseason, and how he hopes to change that Saturday with the home preseason debut against Tampa Bay.
Below are transcripts of Doug Marrone and players, courtesy of the Bills:
HC Doug Marrone
Monday, August 18, 2014
Q: What are the injuries for tonight?
Scott Berchtold: We have three guys that aren’t going to practice tonight. Bobby Felder with a groin [injury], Jonathan Meeks with a neck [injury] and Sammy Watkins with rib [injuries].
Q: What were the results of Sammy Watkins tests after the game?
A: I don’t deal with the injuries.
Q: Obviously his injury is a setback for the offense unless he’s only going to be out a couple of days, right?
A: He’s not practicing today and I’ll be ready to practice without him. When he comes back he will be ready to go. I don’t think one person is going to make or break. We have to continue to move on. I’m excited about the guys we will have out there. He’s not out there, and when he comes back, I don’t know.
Q: So you’re not sure when he’s coming back?
A: Last year, I tried to be right all the time and tell you guys. Injuries are a funny thing. I was right 99.9% of the time last year and I was wrong one time and I have to live with that. So I think when it comes down to injuries I’m going to let Scott handle it and unless I know for sure, I am not going to comment on when they’re coming back or when they might come back because it’s too difficult. You have setbacks. You wake up one morning and you have this or that and then I have to stand up here and hear, “You told us this and you told us that.” So, I really don’t know. Ribs are a funny thing. They really are. You can practice the next day sometimes. You can come back into a game. Sometimes on the x-ray it shows that it’s a crack. Sometimes it shows that it’s not and then you take a better x-ray and there is a crack. Sometimes, depending on the player, you can be out two weeks, four weeks, six weeks or two months. I’m not going to get into that stuff this year. I appreciate everyone understanding that. Scott is going to handle that. I’ll do my best and tell you who is going to step up in that position and what we’re preparing to do and all those things. I have no problem at all.
Q: So it’s a rib contusion, not broken ribs?
Scott Berchtold: They just said it was a rib [injury].
Q: Is it concerning that EJ [Manuel] and the first team offense are having trouble in the end zone?
A: I wouldn’t say EJ and the offense, I would say the offense, which is probably the best way to do it. Yeah, we’re not close to our goal and we’ve addressed it with them. Even though we’re not in a situation where we’re game planning, that’s not an excuse. We’re running plays that we should be able to convert. We’ve had 11 opportunities and I want to say we’re below 40%. So that’s not good enough. Is it a concern? Yeah, it’s a concern. We have to do better.
Q: Would you rather EJ push the ball a little bit and take more chances since it doesn’t really count in a preseason game?
A: I think there are some opportunities where you can do that like the throw to Scott (Chandler) that was intercepted. That’s where we want to go in that situation, but we want the throw to be a little bit higher obviously. I think you have to be careful because once you start doing that, then all of a sudden when the game comes and it counts, you can get yourself in trouble by turning the ball over. And the number one way to win and lose games, which hasn’t changed in the history of this game, is turnovers. So I think you have to be careful when you do that. For us, it’s very simple- we’re even. The two games we lost, we were -1 and the one game we won we were +2. Sometimes we get into all these different stats and looking at things and I think it’s as simple as that. But to answer your question, there are some things where we want to push the ball downfield but I think two things need to happen: 1) You have to be able to separate and create that separation and that window for us to throw it in and 2) Sometimes it depends on the coverage and making sure that we’re right on the coverage, which is a little bit more difficult in the preseason because people are looking for different things. I don’t think it would be fair to our team if we talked about pushing the ball down field even if the read doesn’t dictate that. I think that can get us in trouble down the road.
Q: How much of an emphasis are you placing on your first team offense to finish and get touchdowns going into this weekend’s game?
A: It’s never changed as far as it being a big issue. It’s always an issue. In other words, it’s always a goal to do that. So to say that we’re putting more emphasis on it this week than last week or whether you’re doing well for two weeks, I think that’s how you get yourself in trouble in this league. So I think it’s always an emphasis of what we want to do. We tend to come back to the traditional way of planning in the preseason. We have to be careful as we move forward. After the game last week I was asked, “You played your starters longer?” Longer than what? I’m not sure. And, “You were planning on playing them this way.” I don’t know if I ever told anyone what way I was planning on playing them, so I was kind of taken aback by that. We look at a lot of things, just so you know. We look at the practices during the week, the reps we’re getting and what we’re doing. I want to stay away from the traditional stuff. We’re going to play our guys the way we feel to get them ready for the season. I’m even looking at what we’re going to do in the next preseason game and how much we want to play there.
Q: Is there an expectation for Cordy Glenn’s status?
A: I’m going to see how he does during the week. I think we have to be smart. I don’t think we should just throw him right in there. A lot of it will depend on how he’s doing during the week.
Q: Is he progressing?
A: He’s cleared to be out there in team periods and progress during team.
Q: Cyrus Kouandjio has had a couple difficult moments in the preseason games. Where do you feel that he’s at right now?
A: I don’t disagree. Even on the sidelines, I see something bad happen and I put it into a category of, “Oh gosh, he’s not playing well.” And then I go back and I watch the film and there are some really good things he’s doing too. I think when you play tackle, it’s almost like when you play corner- when you do make a mistake, everyone in the stadium is able to see it. But then when you go back and watch the film, play-by-play and individual plays, he’s actually doing better than my perception on the sideline, which I’ve always taken a lot of pride in. He is progressing and getting better.
Q: You said it’s tough to play tackle in the NFL. What is it about that position that makes it so difficult?
A: It’s really probably the combination of the speed and the power. I believe in training inside out, so you always train for power first before you start training for speed, and you can get yourself in trouble there. In college, you rarely see the combination of speed and power and in this league a lot of those players have that. So, if you’re worried about guys getting on the edge of you and then they bull rush you, you look really, really bad. And if you’re sitting on the power, then a guy can run right around you. So it takes a while to learn how to read those moves and study those opponents. Like I said before, the good players in this league keep a diary or book on every single player and watch every single snap. That’s they’re job, to go against them, and they’re doing the same on the offensive guys. It’s just a point of time. He has the skill to play in this league and we just have to keep developing it.
Running Back C.J. Spiller
Monday, August 18, 2014
Q: Are you concerned with the offense’s red zone struggles?
A: We understand what we have to do to get better as an offense. We know emphasis on one thing that will help us be successful as an offense and as a team is our red zone. There are other parts that we look at, but we’re working on it. We’re trying to fine-tune it. I can guarantee that come September our red zone will be fine.
Q: Is there any frustration that the first team offense has yet to score a touchdown?
A: Obviously, we want to score points. That’s our job; to put up points on the board. The frustration is there. The only thing we can do is go back, look at the film and correct the mistakes. The biggest thing that we don’t want to do is just keep correcting the same mistakes over and over. That’s when the frustration really sets in. I can honestly say that we come out each and every day. We work hard, we correct mistakes and now just taking what we do here over to the game.
Q: What did you think about the shuffling on the offensive line?
A: Coach Morris is just trying to find the right combinations. He’s putting certain guys in certain situations. During the season you never know what can happen, so you want to see what guys can do at different positions. I’ll tell you what, there was a lot of beef up there today and that was a joy to watch.
Q: Does the shuffling have much of an effect on your overall game and preparations?
A: Not really. I have to trust whoever is up there that they’re going to get their job done. At the same time, we as running backs have got to make sure we’re helping them out with our correct steps, our reads, not cutting it back too early and making sure we’re in the right position.
WR Mike Williams
Monday, August 18, 2014
Q: The offense and the lack of scoring in the red zone, is it something to be concerned about yet?
A: We’ve been working on it. We know that’s a point of emphasis, we weren’t ranked high in the red zone last year, so we’ll be working on it. We’ll see this week, we’ll see if all the work has been paying off. There are no excuses, but last week we didn’t even have red zone in the game plan, so that made it kind of difficult, but no excuses, we have to score down there and make the catches we’re supposed to. We’ll see this week.
Q: It’s hard to see Sammy Watkins go out but you guys have some depth there, is that comforting?
A: Yeah, good thing it’s preseason too. He can get his rest in now, he has a long season ahead of him. It’s a good thing he can get his rest right now.
Q: How do you feel about the guys surrounding him?
A: We have a good group, everybody is ready to play, they’ve been stepping up when we’ve needed them to. We’re going to get a good chance to see more of these guys now too.
Q: It’s going to be your first game back home in your hometown in front of your home crowd, what do you think about that?
A: It’s going to be wonderful. I can’t wait, for me to play in front of my home crowd, in my home stadium, it’s going to be fun.
C Eric Wood
Monday, August 18, 2014
Q: Erik [Pears] started next to you tonight. What are your thoughts on some of the changes going on?
A: Guys are doing a good job of stepping up, knowing what they’re supposed to do and providing a lot of competition. We’re constantly going to try and find the five best starters and we’re probably going to try a lot of different combinations. We have a lot of good players and some guys getting healthy and providing some good competition.
Q: What’s the importance of knowing who the five will be and having continuity before the games start counting? Where’s the deadline here?
A: I’m not sure. Maybe after this game or maybe after the following. I’m not sure because that’s not my call. I have a lot of confidence in whoever is lining up. Luckily everyone seems to know what they’re doing, so that’s half the battle. If they know what they’re doing and they know the technique, it’s not that hard of an adjustment. A couple of days of practice should do the trick.
Q: Do you know if Erik [Pears] has played at guard before in his career?
A: I know he’s played there before. Not since he’s been here, but he has had experience at guard in the past.
Q: With [Kraig] Urbik at center, was he in your ear at all?
A: No, Urbik knows what he’s doing at center. He’s been one of the backups at center since he got here so he knows what he is doing and from what I saw, it looked like he did a pretty good job today.
Q: What was it like having Cordy Glenn back for team reps today?
A: It’s a good sign. Cordy is one of our best players and getting him back on the field is obviously going to help this football team.