Pittsford (WKBW) Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone, and rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins addressed the media on Monday morning. Below are the transcripts from their interviews.
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Training Camp — August 19, 2013
Opening Statement: Today I was pleased with the players, the way they came out and worked. I think it was important. It’s the one thing that we’ve been doing a good job of. You can see at times the execution is not perfect nor are some of the other things, but it’s not an overall lack of effort from either side of the ball. It’s just something we’ve got to clean up and that’s why when I get up here and say, ‘Hey we have a lot of work to do,’ we’ve got to keep pushing the players, we’ve got to keep pushing ourselves, keep working and get better. We’re not were we want to be, but we’re working our butts off to get there so from that standpoint I’m very pleased. We worked this morning; the players will have a lot of time now to recuperate. I think a lot of things that you hear at this time of year are kind of get your legs back. We have more than enough time. We’ll be practicing tomorrow night, it’s a good time now to go back, watch all the film, make sure we’re focused and come back tomorrow evening and have a great practice. It’ll be our last evening practice of camp.
Q: Coach you executed two two-minute drives at the end there and got in the end zone both times. Before that you got the offense together during the water break, what was your message to them?
A: Well I got the defense together first and then I went over to the offense and it was exactly what I just said. I said I appreciate the work we’re putting in, the hard work, but again it’s a little bit of the focus individually in different areas. We have to push through that. We need 11 players every time they’re on that field to make sure that they’re focused on doing everything right. That’s what I challenged them with. You saw them picking up. So the one thing you feel good about as a coach and my philosophy has always been make sure you’re straight with the players on what you’re seeing. Make sure you exactly tell them what they need to do and what goes on. For the most part, when you treat players like that, they’ll respond. I thought that they did.
Q: What did Dustin Hopkins do well or do right to earn that kicking job?
A: It’s always tough when you have to release a player like Rian Lindell. A true professional that’s obviously been with the organization for quite some time and I have a lot of respect for him even though I wasn’t here with him in the past. One of the things when I saw him from the film last year and I was looking at and evaluating just kick offs and long field goals, when he came back he worked extremely hard and was much much better than what I saw in the year’s past. As far as the kick-offs and the long field goals. I think in the past 10 days, Dustin has performed better. So we made a decision to go with Dustin. It also gives Rian the ability, he’s a great pro, gives him the ability to maybe go ahead and get with another team. You make those decisions and you move on and a lot of times those decisions are tough. Obviously I know about those things, I was released six times myself; I understand what the players go through. I understand what it’s like in that meeting. I want to make sure that I’m giving that player a lot of respect when those times come and Rian is one of the top professionals that I’ve been around.
Q: 14 penalties Friday night. You were frustrated with nine in the first game, where are you with penalties?
A: I think with penalties, I think people tend to look at the number at the end of the game. I tend to cut them all out and evaluate them all. To say ‘OK was this a penalty? Was this forced by us just being aggressive? Is it a penalty forced on us not being focused?’ We’re trying to play and we’re just a little too soon. I think you have to manage those as a coach because you can over manage a situation and lose that aggressiveness in a player, but I think for us obviously it has been too much. I think that when we get in to situations, especially the red zone. When we work on those drills and we work on those situations we have to constantly remind ourselves of that and really up our focus because we don’t want any penalties down there and they do, they hurt. It’s very hard to make up certain downs and situations in this league. We’ve seen that with everyone. We have to make that a point of emphasis for our players and again evaluate the situations, which is what we do. I get very upset; the players know I get very upset, with more of the unforced errors. Meaning that, not trying to make a play through a ball, but jumping off-sides and things like that. Those are things you can truly control and I think that’s where I would use the word frustration.
Q: Have you noticed any different points of emphasis from the officials based on their calls so far in the preseason?
A: No, I think the officials have done a great job. When you look at it, and sometimes it’s bam-bam, looking at it from the sideline, you say ‘Well where do you go?’ and you watch the film and say that’s a good call. Sometimes I think it’s a very difficult job. I was fortunate enough that when I was in college, I was able to attend officials meeting: all of the NCAA, all of the BIG EAST Conference, which was good for me because the NFL officials run those conferences now. Terry McAulay was with us when we were in the BIG EAST at Syracuse. Tony Corrente, who we just had, is a leader at the PAC-10, and they bring in a lot of the NFL coaches to teach them and you have a greater appreciation for them when you’re sitting in the meetings, and they’re showing tapes and they say, “Oh I can’t believe I missed that.” I never realized how important it was to them to make sure that those calls are right. I’ve always had a great appreciation for what they’ve done. A lot of times sometimes things happen so quickly that if someone’s body goes down the wrong way, you might get called for that. Like a holding penalty, you’re driving a guy and all of a sudden, he puts his hands out and flips over. We see it all the time by defensive players. Or offensive players get a flag for pass interference and drawing that type of attention. Sometimes those things get called. We can play that the right way if we just go ahead and play football, finish the play and let the officials do their job and officiate it. But no, to answer your question, I don’t see a point of emphasis. The only thing I would say is a point of emphasis, and we saw that last night, the officials have been talking to me quite a bit making sure that I keep my butt on the sideline. So that seems like a big point of emphasis this year. I know they called one last night, but that’s what they’re communication to me quite a bit during the game.
Q: Are you encouraged by Stevie Johnson’s prospects for Saturday?
A: I am encouraged. I think he’s looked better and better, and we’re working him more and more. He looked better today. I think that those are our expectations for him to look better today and an expectation that he had. So yes, I do feel much more comfortable with that.
Q: Have you spoken to the doctors regarding EJ Manuel’s operation, and has his timetable changed at all?
A: No, I'm actually looking forward to seeing what the doctor says to see if it will be shorter. Prior to the preseason, the message that I’ve gotten from the doctor is that everything looked great. I didn’t ask for all of the specifics and I’m meeting with the doctors today to go through all of the injuries again sometime this afternoon. My message from the doctor is that everything went great. EJ is here, he’s at camp. We are just keeping him, after a minor procedure, off his feet for the first 48 hours, but we’re making sure he gets his meetings, gets his tape. We’re going to try and get him out there as soon as possible.
Q: Did you talk to him today? How’s he doing?
A: Good. He’s about 50 yards from us right now.
Q: Can you comment on Da’Rick Rogers’ development?
A: I think what you see with some of the younger players, and I think where the separation has come from let’s say Robert Woods, for example. Robert has been out there every day consistently doing well and winning routes. Da’Rick you’ve seen flashes of him being able to win, so it’s just a matter of the consistency. I think a lot of it is when you come up here, I always work with the players on the mindset: going out every day, trying to win and handling adversity. If you don’t get off to a good start, how are you going to get yourself back? So with Da’Rick, you see a lot of potential up there where he can go ahead and make plays and beat people. Sometimes you see him whether he’s getting down a little bit or feeling sorry for himself, whatever it may be, then you don’t see that consistency in him. It’s a little bit up and down. We just have to get it to where he’s constantly going up and he should be a fine player.
Bills K Dustin Hopkins
Training Camp – August 19, 2013
Q: Over the last week or so, it looks like you rounded into form a bit more. Would you agree with that?
A: For sure. I’ve felt a lot more comfortable here recently, just with the tempo and getting used to practices and games. So, I feel like I’ve been hitting clean balls. I’ve felt comfortable, for sure.
Q: Have you locked down your approach to the point that you feel like you’re consistent with your mechanics all the time?
A: I think if somebody came up here and said, every time without fail that I’m minding my Ps and Qs every time, I think they might be lying to you. 99-percent of the time, I’d like to say yeah. But every once in a while there’s an anomaly in there that’s kind of like man, I have to fix that. But for the most part, my mechanics are feeling good. I’m breaking down film and making sure I’m documenting why I’m feeling better and being successful and things like that. And I think that’s all part of being a pro.
Q: You’re obviously happy that you have the job, but how do you feel about Rian Lindell being let go?
A: Just like you said, I find myself kind of in a paradox. This is something I’ve worked my whole life for, just to represent my faith, my lord, my family and hometown, things like that. It’s an honor and a blessing to be here, to stand in front of you all and talk about this right now. But at the same time, it’s kind of the bad part about pro sports, kind of parting with a guy I have a lot of respect for and have admired watching for a long time, and has meant so much to the community. A guy that treated me with a tremendous amount of respect, given the situation that was put in front of us, knowing that probably one of us was going to be gone. So, losing a guy that, even though it was a short stint, has become a friend of mine. Just to speak to his character, the first guy I heard from today, before I heard anything, was Rian. Just saying he was wishing me luck, wanted the best for me and he was happy for me. I think that’s just an accurate representation of the kind of guy he is, just not bitter or anything like that, but genuinely happy for a guy that he’s only known for a few weeks.
Q: Does this make all those summer kicking camps worth it?
A: Talk to my parents. They were the backers on it. (Laughs) No, for sure. I think all that work you put in, you kind of work to, not this moment exactly but that moment on the field when you’re feeling good and all those things are working your way and your hard work is paying off. Yeah, definitely, those summer camps have definitely paid off. Jamie Kohl texted me this morning. We became really close, family friends. And like I said, it’s one of those things you get to share with people you genuinely care about but it is a bad situation given how influential he was to the city and the team. I mean he was the longest-tenured athlete on the team.
Q: You’re perfect in the preseason so far, but your long is only 39 yards. Are you eager to get one of those long ones under your belt before the preseason is over?
A: I want to if the opportunity arises, yeah, for sure. But at the same time, I’m not focusing as much on the distances. I need to make every kick that’s presented, whether it’s a 55 or an extra point. It’s an old kicking saying: every kick is the same. I mean, yes I’m looking forward to that. But at the same time, I’m just trying to focus on making every kick, regardless of the distance.
Q: What did you learn from Rian?
A: For me it was like small things. I was taking ice baths for 10 minutes. He was doing extra. He was doing 20. It was little things like that. If he’s been in the league for this long, I ought to do 20 minutes. You’re breaking down film and you’re seeing a small foot angle of his that’s different than yours or an angle on his plant foot. Obviously it has worked for him. You take little things like that. It’s less like we were breaking up film together and he was giving me these huge tips, but just from observing him and how he went about his business. Just how to take care of your body and how those small things affect the outcome and the result of the kick.
Q: Has Coach Crossman been harping on directional kick-offs at all in addition to pinning the guy deep in the end zone?
A: Yeah, we’re definitely working on directional stuff. Sometimes I leave it in the middle of the field, which is obviously not what we need to do. But at the same time, I don’t want to give away too much special teams info. But yeah, it’s all a part of the game, trying if you can kick it out and in a good direction, that’s even better.
Q: How much easier has it been to transition into the NFL and maybe this season because you are already familiar with your holder?
A: It has helped out a lot. Having Shawn [Powell] for three years and having him aware of how I like the ball laying. He has actually helped me out because when I first came out, I had a more drastic lean. Without me knowing, he was kind of giving me more straight-up balls. And that’s when I started getting in the groove. We noticed that on film and saw that and said, if I’m hitting a cleaner ball like this, let’s stick with this. So he has kind of helped me through that situation without even being really overt about it. He kind of did it, I hit a good ball and he was like, let’s stick with this. So it has definitely helped for sure.
Q: Between you two and Garrison Sanborn, have you decorated the locker room with any Florida State stuff?
A: No, the specialists, I don’t think the specialists have (enough) clout. We can’t decorate any rooms. We’re not there yet. Maybe in a couple years.
Q: Is it cool that you are all from the same school?
A: For sure. I’m not sure if in history that’s happened before. Maybe it has. It’s cool to represent your university like that, to be proud of what you’ve done and how many people that you’re putting in the league, but specifically with the special team focus and emphasis, given the fact that Florida State is kind of known for their negative special teams play. And now we have a snapper, a punter and three kickers in the league now. It is kind of funny how people view the kicking game at FSU and here in Buffalo.