Head Coach Doug Marrone
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Q: Injuries?
A: Scott Berchtold: These guys did not participate in practice: [Stevenson] Sylvester with a knee, [Bobby] Felder with a groin, [Mario] Butler with an ankle and one player came out of practice and that was Leodis [McKelvin] with a groin.

Q: Do you expect Leodis’ injury to sideline him for Saturday?
A: Oh, I have no idea. They haven’t told me that yet. I’m kind of like you. I ask the same questions.

Q: Do you have a rule that a player has to practice a bit before playing?
A: I have in the past, but I think at this level every player is different. Someone with more experience who has done it, sometimes you don’t get worried. Sometimes if it’s a young player and you put him in there and he makes a mistake, it’s almost like a built in excuse. You know what I mean? Well he didn’t practice. What do you expect? Well, then that’s on us as coaches.

Q: What are your thoughts on the scuffle at the end of practice?
A: I don’t think there’s a place in this game for any kind of scuffles, you know? And then we put some new players in and we fumbled a snap at the 1-yard line. That’s what happens when those things occur.

Q: Do you reprimand players after something like that?
A: Honestly, I’m going to tell you. This is how I feel, okay? It’s not part of the game; therefore, I don’t want to speak about it. It hurts the integrity of our game the more we talk about it. That’s how I feel about fighting.

Q: Erik Pears and Seantrel Henderson were back on the right side today. What did you see from them today?
A: I think (Seantrel) can play that. You know what I’m saying? He’s fighting for a job starting on this team. He’s had a great camp. He’s gone against quality competition and he’s trying to be a starting offensive lineman in this league. He’s really played well.

Q: Have you liked what you’ve seen from Erik Pears since he’s been moved to the inside?
A: Yeah, Erik is, I said this the other day, he’s probably one of the best pros that I’ve been around and I’ve been around some good ones, guys that have played a long time. I talked to him about, ‘Hey, we’re going to put you inside and see how that works.’ No problem. When people talk about someone being a true pro and doing whatever you can to help that football team, he’s done that 110 percent. He’s looked good in there.

Q: You talked about how impressed you were with your run defense. How encouraging has that been?
A: It’s been good. With the linebacker concern with the injury to Kiko [Alonso] and then not having been with Brandon Spikes before, but obviously played against him, Brandon’s done a nice job with leadership. I think Nigel has really stepped up his game and is playing well. Keith Rivers is a guy that has been in this league, so you know what you’re going to get. He’s an ultimate pro. But then the other players, Preston Brown, Ty Powell, Randell [Johnson] you never know what you’re going to get with younger guys. They’ve come in and done a heck of a job. They’re young, they’re excited, they’re playing, they’re tackling. The thing that I’ve been most impressed with and why we’re doing such a good job, we’re tackling better now at this time of year than we did last year. We need to continue that during the season.

Q: It seems that Jim Schwartz has delivered on his reputation as a defensive coordinator who has defenses that are great against the run. What are your thoughts?
A: I knew it first-hand because, obviously, we competed against Jim when he was the defensive coordinator when I was with the Jets and he was with the Titans and we played against each other. So I knew about him then. Obviously, he has a good reputation and has done a good job. I think schematically, the way the scheme is built, it gives you the ability to do that.

Q: Is it more difficult to keep the players attention at this point in training camp?
A: No, I don’t think so. I actually think it’s the opposite right now for us. Our players understand that we’re close on a couple things when we’re talking about progress. You get to a certain thing and you’ve got to turn it over so the players understand that we’re close. They understand that if we feel that way or if we’re talking about how long this is it’s bad. It’s an exciting time so the longer we keep going, the longer we keep practicing, the more excited we’re getting because we’re getting better in all these situations that we need to do. Now, we need to do that on the field. That’s why we’re excited to go back and play at home. We haven’t been home for a long time. We’ve played well at home in the past and we love being there around our fans. So, I think it’s the opposite. You’ll see them being even more excited.

Q: The second to last preseason game is the best indicator of what your teams going to look like. Is it too soon to be talking about bounce back performances?
A: We’re looking for progress and getting better. When we use the term bounce back, it’s almost like we’ve been disappointed in everything and I think there have been areas we’ve been excited about like being able to stop the run. Obviously we gave up some big plays the other day. Offensively, we’ve been moving the football, but we haven’t scored as much as we obviously need to. So, we want to progress in those things. What’s tough for us is that we’re still not showing every single thing and truly game planning. It’s not an excuse and you still want to be able to execute and just make plays. What I’m looking for is to get out there, get our guys ready to play for the season and win a football game, obviously, is the first thing. Then make sure that the plays we’re running we can execute and see our ability rise up in situations like third downs and red zones, and try to see a little change of focus and change of demeanor and somebody making a play. So, that’s what I’m looking for in this next game

Q: How much more emphasis is there on this game?
A: Whatever philosophy you have, and I agree there is a little bit more emphasis on this game but I think it’s very difficult to say this is going to be who we are if you’re not fully in 110% game planning the heck out of it. There is some game planning involved, don’t get me wrong. My point is, we’re not out of the water. I’m looking closely at this last preseason game as maybe playing. How much? I don’t know but I’m looking to that game as playing players. For me, I’m looking to see where we are progressing and the continuity of the line playing together. We may put them in for that last game. I haven’t made a decision on that yet. We’re still up in the air on exactly the last preseason game. But I agree, it’s been warm-up, not dress them, and go ahead and play. But I think we may change a little bit. I’m leaning towards that right now.

Q: Are these last two preseason games critical for finding core special teamers?
A: No, I think we have that group. We’ll just wait. Obviously we’re still in a process, but I feel very comfortable about the guys that we have identified right now. I think when the roster is set, and we get down to the final cuts, we’ll talk about that role for those players.

Q: Are you focused on Cordy [Glenn]’s progress?
A: I’m not really too worried about him from a standpoint of his ability to play. I just look at him more from the conditioning standpoint, not having been out there. I just watch him condition wise. And we’ve been watching the reps. We take him out for a couple and we’re working him back in.

OC Nathaniel Hackett
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Q: The offensive line has had a lot of shuffling go on this year already, are you hoping the five you’re going to have start to fall together soon?
A: Without a doubt. At this point, we want to get the best five on the field, that’s always the biggest thing for us. We always want to have the best players out there, and we want to make sure we’ve got the right guys. Getting Cordy Glenn back was obviously a huge benefit, but we’ve seen a lot of good play from some other guys. We want to be sure we’ve got the best combination put together and move forward.

Q: Have you been a part of a situation like this where there has been this much shuffling up front?
A: Yes, I think it was my very first year in Buffalo the first time I was here. I’m pretty sure we went the whole season and never went with the same line two games in a row. We had a chart of all the guys that played and we never had the same starters two weeks in a row except for maybe one exception. It happens, they do a great job training these guys, with Pat and Kurt and even Coach Marrone. They’re good guys to have around.

Q: That time was for injury, this time you have a menu of options. It’s got to be a better situation.
A: It’s a very good, positive problem. It’s one of those things where we have a lot of guys playing a lot of different positions and they’re all doing really well. It’s all really good and exciting.

Q: Everyone’s up in arms about the red zone offense, it’s only preseason so we should necessarily be too concerned yet but….
A: I mean we scored a lot of points in our first game last year and everyone was excited. The red zone is the hardest place to score, it’s that simple. I think that we just need to keep working it, get all the guys in there that we want and keep finding those play makers.

Q: Slot receiver, what are you looking for there? It seems to really be a two man competition.
A: I think first of all, the more guys that you can have go in there, the more flexibility you can have, both in a base package and in three receiver sets. So we definitely want to have as many options as we can there. You really want a guy that understands the coverages, is able to be a tough guy and catch passes over the middle, and be able to identify coverages and where he fits in those areas. That’s something that you target quite a bit and so we’ve got the guys that know where they’re supposed to be, that kind of stuff, and we want to have options so we’re training a couple guys in there. Right now, both Robert Woods and Chris Hogan have done a good job in the slot and are coming along, we’re just going to let everything unfold.

Q: It seems like another positive problem to have.
A: It is, it seems like a lot of the issues across the board are looking that way, and that’s exciting for us. Guys are pushing each other, encouraging each other, guys are forced to make plays all the time and not get relaxed at all.

Q: In the preseason I understand you call a very vanilla offense, but in practice there seems to be a lot of check downs and what not. Is that by design or are you saving the big stuff for the regular season?
A: No, I think for example, when we were playing Pittsburgh a lot of people play certain coverages to try and take away that stuff. That’s going to happen, and when you have a lot of speed and talent like we do, guys who can hurt defenses down the field, they’re going to want to make you check it down. I think, it’s a great job of EJ Manuel identifying what’s happening and being able to get it to the right receiver. The most important thing for us is to get a completion. We always want a completion so our guys can catch and run, when you do get those check downs, you’re putting the ball in the hands of guys like C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown, guys who can make big plays after the catch. We definitely want to get the ball down the field and we’re trying to make the right reads, only checking down if we have to. We never want to force anything. All of a sudden we say we want to throw the ball down the field and were forcing, forcing and forcing, it causes turnovers and stuff like that. We never want that to happen. We just want to be able to take what the defense gives us and keep being aggressive keep on working forward.

Q: Is there a point when you need to push the ball down the field just to back them off a little bit?
A: Of course, we’d love to keep throwing the ball down field all the time.

Q: Doug Whaley has been quoted saying EJ can sometimes be too much of a perfectionist, what do you think about that?
A: That’s always been a tough thing for him from the very beginning. He wants to get things right every time. Sometimes you have to sit back there and be like, “Okay, EJ, you’re still young, you’re still learning, you’re still developing.” He just wants to be perfect every time and he sometimes will hold it against himself. He gets mad at himself and you have to remind him, “Next play, next play.” That’s something he’s improved on a lot and he’s been able to start going through his progressions, believing and believing, knowing he can do it, and also knowing that it’s not going to be perfect every time. For me, as a coach, you install a play, it’s all in front of you, then once you’re out on the field, there is chaos everywhere, and it’s never going to be as perfect as you want. The more that he can move around, use his athletic ability and understand that that is perfect and that’s okay, just checking it down or something like that, that’s great. Just as long as we keep moving ball forward all the time, making those big, long drives we’ve had in the past.

Q: Do you guys talk about goals for EJ together?
A: We do, for us we want him to play all 16 games and into the playoffs. Whatever it takes to win is all that matters. You always want to have a certain amount of yards or completion percentage or whatever, but what it really what it comes down to for this team is not just what EJ does but everyone across the board, we’ve just got to win. That’s all we have to do. As an offense, I want to do what’s right for the offense, whatever it takes to win, that’s our number one goal and we talk about that all the time.

Q: In the second to last preseason game, the starters typically go longer. What do you have in mind for them in terms of targets or goals to see on Saturday night?
A: No, I just think we want to attack the team we’re playing, show we’re going to be physical, we’re going to run the ball, throw the ball, do a lot of the basic things we’re going to need to do and just get really good at all that stuff. This is a really good defense that’s going to present a different look than what we’ve seen so it’s a great opportunity to learn from that, and move forward from there.

Q: I guess you didn’t appreciate seeing your starting center getting his helmet ripped off and throwing haymakers…
A: It happens, it’s football, we’re in week five and it’s a competitive sport. That kind of stuff happens and you just have to keep on practicing.


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