PITTSFORD, NY (WKBW/BUFFALO BILLS) - It was move-in day at St. John Fisher College for players as Buffalo Bills training camp gets underway.
Read transcripts from player interviews courtesy of the Buffalo Bills.
CB Stephon Gilmore
Move-In Day — July 26, 2013
Q: How is this year different than every other year?
A: It’s a lot different because me being a rookie, I didn’t know what was going on. This year, I know what’s going on, so it’s a little bit easier to adjust.
Q: Are you more prepared for training camp this year than you were last year in terms of living in the dorms?
A: Mostly the same amount of stuff. I didn’t really need anything last year, but I actually had to order another queen-sized bed for the room, so that’s the only thing that I brought instead of last year.
Q: What are some of the priorities you have for yourself in your second NFL season?
A: Just to be one of the best corners in the league. Me, I know what I’m capable of doing. I need to go out to the practice field, work on my game and take it over to the game field.
Q: You had a lot of hands on passes last year, but not a lot became turnovers. Is that right up there at the top of the list?
A: Of course. Me and coach have been talking about it. In OTAs and mini-camps, just trying to get more interception. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
Q: Being the number one guy sort of drifted your way as the year went on last season. How do embrace that role for this defense?
A: That’s the type of player that I want to be. I’m hard on myself every practice and game, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be ready.
Q: Can you describe this defense?
A: I think we’ll be a great defense. We still have to go out to the practice field and do our job and focus on our plays, but I think we’ll be a good defense this year.
Q: What are the differences between this year’s and last year’s defense?
A: I think it’s a totally different defense from last year. There’s a lot more things going on, a lot more plays. They’re sending a lot of people up front and I think we’ll be a good defense this year.
Q: A member of your defense, Jairus [Byrd], is not here. How much is he going to be missed as camp gets going?
A: He’s going to be missed a lot. Byrd, he’s a good player. I learned a lot from him when he was here. He’s a playmaker and like I said, you don’t come across too many guys like him because he’s a great player.
Q: Do you communicate with him at all?
A: Of course. I talked to him a lot during the off-season, as he was working out and stuff like that.
Q: How is he feeling about not being at camp?
A: Like I said, it’s a business. I don’t know what’s going on that side. They have to let the business take care of itself.
Q: Have you communicated with him about what’s going on at training camp?
A: We try to give him a little bit of stuff so he doesn’t come in and know nothing. I think he’ll be ready to go when he comes back.
Q: Is it frustrating from your standpoint that he’s not here because you want him to be caught up to speed?
A: It’s not frustrating for me because I know in this game, it’s a business. And they need to handle their business. But I’m just looking forward to him coming back to the team and him helping us win games.
Q: What kind of identity does the defensive backfield want to establish?
A: We just want to be one of the top defenses in the league. We want to be that defense that offenses are scared of.
Q: What does it mean to be a defense that offenses are scared of?
A: A lot of turnovers. A lot of plays and being out there and having fun. And when you’re having fun, that pertains to winning. So that’s what we want to do.
Q: How confident are you that given the changes, you can get the defensive scheme down pat in time?
A: I think we’re very confident. Obviously there is a lot of stuff, but I think we can handle it. Once we handle it, I think it’ll be great for the game-time situations.
Q: Last season, you had some issues with committing penalties. How have you been working to correct that in the off-season?
A: I worked on it a lot. Sometimes I think, just coming in as a rookie, they call some things they wouldn’t call on older players. Like I said, I’ve been working on it a lot not to jam past five yards.
Q: Did you say you want to be one of the best cornerbacks or the best cornerback?
A: I want to be the best, but I don’t want to put that out for myself. I want people to put that upon me.
Q: Did last year give you the confidence that you can attain that label?
A: It gave me a lot of confidence because later on in the season I started guarding the number one receiver every game. And then just working out in the off-season, just working on the things I didn’t do well last year and hopefully it carries on to the gam time situations.
Q: What does Coach Pettine tell you about that? Does he reinforce that, that you can be the best?
A: He doesn’t really say that. But he keeps telling me to keep working like I am. I’m working hard trying to pick up on things. Sometimes I ask him questions about how those guys prepared for the game situations.
Q: What are your impressions of Coach Pettine? How has the mentality of the defense changed?
A: It’s a lot of stuff, up front especially. They are blitzing. And sometimes they act like they’re blitzing. It’s a lot of stuff going on.
WR Marquise Goodwin
Q: What have you done to prepare for Training Camp?
A: I am just trying to get better every day and earn my spot on the 53. I am excited.
Q: Are you experiencing any jitters about your first training camp?
A: Not really. I don’t get nervous too often. I’m just ready. We have put in so much effort during the off-season, and now, we just have to face it and be ready for it.
Q: What does it feel like to be moving back into a dorm after recently finishing your college years?
A: It’s a little déjà vu, but it is what it is. It’s here and now, so we are just getting ready for it.
Q: Can you talk about your excitement level for training camp and the 2013 season?
A: This is the dream. It’s every kid’s dream growing up to be an NFL player. We have a wonderful opportunity in front of us, and we want to make the most of it and get better every day.
Q: When you step on the field for the first time at your first training camp, what’s going to be going through your mind?
A: I just want to make plays. I have my sister in my mind every day. That’s my main motivation for everything I do. I look forward to camp, and I will keep her in mind every day. We are ten months apart, and she was born three months premature and was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy. She has never walked a day in her life. She can talk, but can’t do everything a ‘normal’ person can do. I look forward to working out and helping the Bills get better.
WR Stevie Johnson
Q: Another training camp for you. How different is it this year compared to other years and why?
A: As far as right now goes, it’s all the same. We are excited, I’m sure everyone is excited to be here. We’re all motivated. What’s different now is I’m not as happy about being at training camp now; I’m trying to make a team. Now I’m thinking about making the playoffs.
Q: How realistic is a goal of making the playoffs?
A: It’s very realistic. I feel like we have the team to make that move and I believe in that. Why not now? Why not us? We’re going to make it happen.
Q: How are you feeling health wise?
A: I’m feeling good. Good to go. Everything is full go. Got to get it rolling and make sure we’re smart about it. Take care of our bodies and it’s going to be an important training camp for all of us, every position. As long as we get things meshing and get on the right track, we should be alright.
Q: You’ve been injured before in camp, what will you be doing to prevent that?
A: If I get hurt, as long as it stays in training camp. Once the season goes, we can do it. If I do get injured, oh well. Let’s get them out of the way early and be full go during the season.
Q: There’s a big gap between six wins and the playoffs. What do you have to do?
A: We just have to finish, finish in the games. We had a few games where if we were to finish out much stronger than we did, that gap would be much easier to get to as far as playoffs. We just have to finish.
Q: What are your feelings on S Jairus Byrd not being at camp?
A: Obviously I think he’s a valuable piece. As a player I respect it. Jairus makes plays; he’s shown it his entire career here. That’s the business side of it. I can’t do anything about that. That’s between him, his agent and the Buffalo Bills.
Q: There are a lot of veterans that are no longer with the team. Do you see more competition for jobs across the roster than before?
A: Those guys aren’t here, but the new veterans are. I’m considered a veteran now. I can’t really think too much about who we don’t have. I got to ride with who we have here at camp. My position is just as important as the next guy. As important as the undrafted guy on the Buffalo Bills. As far as positions and competition, everybody is eating. Everybody is hungry to be on that field. I’ve said it a couple of times, I started as a seventh round pick. It doesn’t matter who it is, if you’re first round, seventh or undrafted. You come in here, fight and get the right team on that field.
QB Kevin Kolb
Q: This is your third new training camp. How would you evaluate your progress right now and how does it compare to previous experiences?
A: We are just getting into it, so I'm not exactly sure how the training camp schedules will compare, but I’ve been through it before. I have experienced change before. It’s no big deal for me, but I’m excited about our team and our offense. People ask what to expect, but I don’t know. During a lot of the time during OTAs and mini-camps, we looked really good. We had a slip here and there, as Coach [Marrone] talked about. That’s just us being more mature as a team and growing together. I think consistency is a big part of what we need to work on throughout this training camp and preseason.
Q: One of the focal points during training camp and preseason is the competition between you and E.J. Manuel. Can you describe the intensity of the competitiveness?
A: Given the past four years, I haven’t known anything different. The intensity has always been there for me. I’ve never been able to come in and say ‘look, this is mine.’ It has always been a competition, and I’ve always had something to prove. There’s no better way to go about it.
Q: Does the unpredictability of this training camp diminish the confidence you have that this team will get it together by the opener?
A: Absolutely not. I just mean that it’s impossible to predict anything at this point. We have a lot of new faces. We’ve spent some time together and really liked what we saw. I think we all went into the summer feeling pretty good about what we did. Now we have to pick up where we left off and not take a step back. I’ve talked to a lot of them, and everyone has been working hard and everyone is in pretty good shape. We’ll pick up on that foot and keep moving forward.
Q: Any first impressions of St. John Fisher College?
A: It’s beautiful. The weather is really great today. Much less humidity than Texas and a lot less heat. I’m glad to be here and look forward to spending 2-3 weeks here.
Q: How has Coach Marrone handled the quarterback competition and do you feel you have been given a fair shot?
A: Absolutely. He has told us [that it would become evident to the team who is the right choice]. That’s what I like about him. He shoots you straight no matter what it is. I think he’s right. Everywhere I have ever been, whenever the starter is named, most of the team feels the same way. Hopefully, there is a drastic separation and we can move forward and there won’t be any questions about who it should be. Of course, I am here to compete and hopefully it’s me.
Q: How do you feel joining a team that has some bad luck recently?
A: It is a new offense and new place for me. I am very confident in what we are doing as an offense and as a team. We have taken strides. I like how Coach Marrone structures this entire thing – I’m a believer and that’s the number one important thing for me right now moving forward. Hopefully we get to do it together and no matter what happens, I am here for the team. I’ll do whatever it takes.
Q: What can you provide to some of the guys that have been here for a while and experienced the tough times?
A: The number one thing that I have noticed is that, normally, places try to make people leaders and try to establish certain leaders who have may have given long contracts to. Here, it just seems like there is leadership across the board. Everybody pulls each other up. It could be Fred [Jackson] one day, somebody else another day. There’s just a lot of people to do it. It takes the pressure off the guys that it doesn’t come naturally to. That’s how you build a team. That’s how you build chemistry. Coming from the outside-in, that’s the first thing I have noticed in the first couple of weeks of training and it carried over to OTAs and mini-camps. There’s always someone making sure everyone’s focus is right. It’s encouraging to see from all aspects.
DE Mario Williams
Q: What have the last six weeks been like for you?
A: I have been focused on preparing for camp, going through the repetitions and staying level-headed and keeping things up.
Q: What are you expecting from this camp with a new coach and new quarterbacks?
A: I think it will be pretty interesting. We have a lot of new key pieces to the puzzle. We need to be out here and be together and away from everything else. We just have to focus and get after it.
Q: Even though you are a veteran and have been through a lot, how much of a change will Coach Marrone bring to your experience?
A: It will be something different, but, at the same time, whenever training camp comes, you embrace it. We have to lock in and focus. It’s all about football. Especially whenever you go away, it’s all we have. We’re all here together. We see each other all the time. It’s really to get us better acclimated to the season.
Q: What are your expectations for the front four?
A: We have to take it as a new year. We have new faces, a different staff and different schemes. Everything from the ground up is different, and we have to put last season behind us and not let it come into play this year. It’s a brand new year and everything is up for grabs.
Q: How important is it that the defense gels as a unit given the changes that have occurred?
A: It’s not only important in terms of personnel, but it’s also important for us to run the scheme. It’s going to demand a lot of us mentally and physically, especially going against an offense that has their tempo and style of play. It’s a good thing to face some things that we won’t normally face during the season. It’s good to get away from everything and just be with the team.
Q: How confident are you that the defense can pull it together before the season opener versus the Patriots?
A: I’m very confident. At the end of the day, we have a great coaching staff. They’re going to put everything in that we need to in a way that we can take it in and be able to hold on to it so we can bring it up instinctively on the field and not have to think. They will put us in good positions to make plays and be able to be productive.
Q: This is your second training camp, but do you regard this as a fresh start?
A: Every year is a fresh start. If you were going to ask anyone, from the bottom to the top, Super Bowl champions or not, no one will say that they will carry things over from last season. They know, as everybody else knows, that you have to come out and prove it again. It’s all about what you’ve done for the league lately. That’s what the NFL is about.
Q: With all of the changes, how realistic is it to consider this team as a contender?
A: It’s just as realistic as us standing here right now. At the end of the day, we have to go out and do it. No ifs, ands or buts about it. No excuses. No distractions. There is adversity every day. We have to be able to handle that and know that we are here now and we have to take care of business. It’s all about the Bills.
Q: Have you brought anything special to camp this year?
A: The only thing I’m bringing special is my mentality. I’m excited to be here, and I’m excited to be in this city with this team focusing on the Bills. That means everything to me.
Q: Is training camp especially soothing for you considering what you have endured over the off-season?
A: I can’t let those distractions affect me in any way with how big this is for this city and for the fans and that is my mindset. I’m so excited to be here. It’s a very important time to get in here and learn, fine-tune the communication and seeing what’s possible. We have to execute and carry it out.
QB EJ Manuel
Q: You said no days off when you left in the spring. What have you been doing to be ready?
A: Just continuing to get better each and every day. Nothing that my other teammates haven’t done, just continuing to work on the playbook and studying over that. I had a lot of conversations with coach as well as my other receivers and other quarterbacks too, just bouncing ideas off of them.
Q: What were you working on more than anything else?
A: I wouldn’t say one thing more than the other. I think the biggest thing was continuing to go over the drops and stuff like that that we’ve been working on in OTAs. I have that down, so I’m looking forward to getting out there on Sunday.
Q: Did you get back with Ken Mastrole during the past five or six weeks?
A: A little bit.
Q: What kind of work did you do with him?
A: Just footwork. I pretty much explained my offense and what we’ve been doing here to him. Obviously that helps you when you are teaching somebody else. Also we watched a lot of film together too.
Q: What does he help you do that makes you keep going back to him?
A: Ken and I get along very well. We built that relationship during the pre-draft process. He’s a guy that I’m going to continue to work with throughout my career.
Q: What are the emotions of your first NFL training camp?
A: I can’t really say yet. I think I’ll have more emotions on Sunday when you’re ready to go out. Right now, just excited. This is my first time going away for training camp. I didn’t do that in college, so it’s going to be awesome. It is a beautiful campus out here in Rochester, nice city. I know the weather is not going to be crazy, like 100, 105. That’s going to be a good part about it. So, I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Describe this opportunity. It seems like it’s your job to win.
A: I think it’s a huge opportunity. Being that I was drafted by the Bills, obviously I want to come out and make everybody happy, all the people in the front office and stuff like that. I think the biggest thing is continuing to get better every day.
Q: How prepared do you feel and how much progress have you made?
A: I think I’ve made a lot of progress as far as in the playbook and stuff like that. The best way to learn a playbook is to continue to read it over and over and over. I definitely made sure to do that every day when I had time off. So, I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing how I do.
Q: Do you feel any pressure going into your first NFL camp?
A: No, sir. I was telling Dustin (Hopkins) when we were driving over here, we’re about to be NFL players. That is a big enough dream for me. So I don’t really see it as pressure. I just see it as a great opportunity.
Q: When does it sink in that you are an NFL player?
A: I guess game one or first pre-season game or first practice on Sunday. I can’t really say.
Q: Has it been a series of that since the draft?
A: It has been a series of firsts since the draft. Your first OTA, your first rookie mini-camp, your first time having time off as a guy who just got drafted and stuff like that. It has all been good.
Q: What do you think is the biggest thing you need to show these coaches that you’re ready and you can start?
A: Just continue to always show the leadership skills. I think Coach Hackett just wants me to show I have understanding of the offense. If I can show that, I think I’ll be fine.
Q: What are some of the things you brought with you to your first training camp?
A: I brought my Mac and a bunch of DVDs. I don’t have a TV in the room or anything like that. I figure I’ll be over here meeting with Coach Hackett most of the time anyway, so I don’t really need something to watch. But if I do have some time off, I’ll definitely watch some movies or something like that.
Q: What’s the difference between today and mini-camp?
A: I think there are more cameras out here than at mini-camp, so that’s probably the biggest difference. We drove over, so that’s another difference. But I can’t really say anything else is different. I’m glad to be out here seeing all my teammates file back in. It’s an exciting time.
Q: To a tired fan base, they kind of look at you as a savior of sorts, with you being a first round pick and a quarterback. Do you feel any of that pressure from the fan base?
A: Not really. I see it as a huge opportunity to do something that’s great, not just by myself but also the rookies who also came in and the guys who are on this team already who have had rough seasons and stuff like that. We try to learn from those guys, but being part of the rookie class to me is very special.
C Eric Wood
Q: What are you looking for from QB EJ Manuel?
A: What he needs to do is just take it day-by-day. He seems like a good kid, hardworking guy, so I don’t have any doubts that he’ll come out here and do that.
Q: What stood out in OTA’s for you in regards to EJ?
A: He’s got some leadership skills; he’s got a great arm, athletic. A lot of things you look for in a quarterback. Now it comes time to make some plays when the pads are on and definitely within our four preseason games.
Q: It’s your fifth time now at training camp. What gives you the belief and the confidence that this time things will turn out differently?
A: Yeah, you’re exactly right. New coaching staff brings optimism. The excitement level among guys, especially our veterans seem really excited this year. I think the talent is there, I think it’s been there. We have to stay healthy, that’s one thing. I don’t know how you do that other than just come out here and prepare for a season as hard as you can and get it done. The scheme will work itself out, but we have a lot of confidence in our scheme.
Q: Given the amount of time, how quickly can you adjust to a more up-tempo offense?
A: There’s going to be some things we have to iron out from practices to preseason games, but up-tempo is kind of where the league is turning. That might not be as fast as you can go on every play, but you have to keep defenses on their toes. Everybody does it, it’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel here. We’re out here trying to speed ourselves up, but trying to just keep the defense off guard.
Q: What is your attitude about having to prove yourself just like everyone else to the new staff?
A: Each year you have to reprove yourself and I learned that early on when you see veterans get cut who have made a lot of plays around the league. Your job is never safe in this league, especially with the lack of money that rookies are making these days, they’re always looking for someone who can take your spot and rightfully so, that’s what they should be doing. With the new coaching staff, hopefully I did enough during OTA’s that they think I’m one of the leaders of this team and think I’m good enough to lead our offense. I’m going to go out there each day and show that I am.
Q: What makes this new staff better than previous ones?
A: That’s what we’re going to have to see. I like this coaching staff we’ve assembled. I like the group of guys we’ve assembled. I like our attitude right now and I like our scheme. At this point that’s about all you can say. We can say we’re going to be tougher this year, but until you get out on the field you don’t know that. We can say we’re going to be smarter or we’re going to be healthier, hopefully, but until you get on the field we don’t know that.
Q: Looking at the schedule, how realistic is it that your team can be a contender?
A: I think it’s absolutely realistic. I’ve been around here for a 4-1 start and hopefully we can make some plays like we did then and I like this team. I like where we’re at right now and I like our mentality and hopefully that will bring around some wins.