Buffalo Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan
Monday, April 18, 2016
Opening statement:

See this feels good because now we got everybody, you know, really the end of the 2015 season at technically the combine. I think that’s it, but really for me, it’s today because now you get your players back, you see a bunch of different faces, all that type of stuff and it really closes the book on last season, which is a good thing. But that’s kind of where it is. Just like coming in here today and saying, ‘Alright,’ now we’ve turned the page and now it’s time to focus on our team this season.

So, I’m excited about it, I know we had a great turnout for voluntary deal, we weren’t 100-percent for attendance, but a couple of guys gave me phone calls, all that stuff. I won’t get into specifics on who was here and who wasn’t here because it is voluntary, but I’m encouraged by the turnout we have and everybody’s I think excited to get this season going. So with that, I’ll open it up for questions.

Q: The ‘All In’ slogan we’ve seen on shirts and stuff of players, was that your idea? Talk about that.

A: Yeah. You know me, I’ll steal something. So if it’s good, I’ll steal it. And I stole it, but I think when I was trying to look at it, this is really what’s important to us, is, we talk about our, even with our fans. Our fans, we know they’re behind us and all that stuff, they’re excited about moving forward, so we know the fans are behind us. We just got to, with everything that we do, we just got to be all in. Whether it’s our preparation, our dedication, our commitment to each other, in the classroom, all that’s got to be all in. For us to have the kind of season that we want to have, that gives us the best shot to be successful. The thing to me, it’s a challenge for every individual, starting with myself and everyone else, but it’s a huge challenge for a team. And I think when you look at it, the teams that are really successful, that have gone on to win championships and all that stuff, I know I’ve been a part of a bunch of them, seen a lot of those teams, and they had that characteristic. They had that trust, that belief in each other, and that commitment to each other, that that’s what I think we need to strive for. And that’s to get everybody, you know, pulling the same direction and going for that same goal.

Q: Where did you steal that slogan from?

A: You all know where I stole that from. Where do I steal a lot of my ideas from?

Q: Dabo (Swinney)…

A: That’s it! That’s it. But, you know, I think really, but it’s funny because you do search for different things and you’re trying to get up with it but I think it’s a great slogan. He used it several years ago, but it was something that I think resonates really well with our football team because what you’re trying to ask them to do is, I mean, it’s tough man. I mean it’s easy to talk about, ‘Oh yeah, he’s all in.’ ‘Yeah, I’m all in,’ but your actions speak louder than words, but having it in there is a reminder, a daily reminder, of the commitment we have to each other. And I think that’s a good thing to do.

Q: Rex, when you come to ‘All In’ though, the one thing that doesn’t fit is that this team, this organization, might be all in for your quarterback this year, but beyond this year, you’re not all in. This organization is not all in and has passed up a chance to be all in on Tyrod.

A: Well I think, first off, I’ll never discuss anyone’s contract or whatever. I can tell you this, our focus specifically with Tyrod is to get him to be the very best he can possibly be this year. Without question. There isn’t a person in this organization who doesn’t respect Tyrod Taylor, I can promise you that. Financial things or whatever, everybody’s got it. Whether it’s Tyrod Taylor, this player, that player, there’s always financial things that are obviously very important, to that individual specifically, but there’s a balancing act. What’s best for the franchise might not be what’s best for an individual, but it might be the very best thing for the team. So, that’s where I’ll leave that.

Q: The all in deal, specifically what happened last year on defense, was that part of your thinking with the slogan?

A: No. First off, I think, you know, this is a team. This a team shirt, not a defense shirt. It’s on all of us and we’re a football team. Whether it’s offense, defense, or whatever, we are a football team. We know we, and again, the focus it should be cut off. I hope I don’t have to answer more questions about last season as we move forward, hopefully this will be it, but we’re 8-8. Last I checked, it’s every person in this building was 8-8. It wasn’t just the defense, it’s your football team. So it’s not offense, defense, and there’s a divide. The all in is everything, it’s all encompassing. Whether it’s from a preparation standpoint, if you’re an offensive player, a defensive player, special teams player, whatever it is, and it’s really what we want for the entire organization, not just for the players, the coaches, whatever. It’s all of us.

Q: Last year, Tyrod was part of the three-headed competition. How much will he benefit this year not having to go through that in the offseason. He obviously played all year but to not have to go through all that in the offseason?

A: He’s going to benefit a great deal. There’s no question about that. I think our football team’s going to benefit a great deal by already having a guy that we know is going to be our quarterback. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. We knew when we were doing the competition, I said it, a three-headed competition is not ideal. We all get that, we certainly understand that. But in all fairness, that’s what we had to do last year. Somebody had to earn the job and as it turned out, Tyrod earned that job and we all feel good about that right now. He is our starting quarterback, nobody in this organization doubts that for the 2016 season, so yeah, I think he’s going to benefit a great deal. But again, not only Tyrod will benefit, I think our entire team will.

Q: Rex, what does that fact do for you as a head coach? Just your perspective, your approach with the team having that guy entrenched as the head coach?

A: Oh man, it changes everything because even the way you set up your practices. Remember last year we had two-spot drills and all that? And that was great, don’t get me wrong. This early phase, phase one, phase two of it, phase one you can’t be on the field, but phase two, to have those two-spot drills, that’s good, even though it’s walkthrough pace. But, when we had to do it in training camp, I think we saw some residual effects of that with guys pulling hamstrings, all those types of things. I don’t think when we kicked the season off last year, that we were at our 100-percent best, and that’s physically. So some of that, how that affected it, I think it did affect it a little bit so now being able to do more of a traditional training camp, there may be some things we do a two-spot drill in, but obviously it’s not going to be set up like it was this past season.

Q: Are you optimistic about Aaron Williams and what the doctors have told you?

A: I am. I’m very optimistic about it. In fact, I have the injury list and I can just read this off to you, the guy’s that had offseason surgery. And Aaron’s not even on that list because obviously he had surgery during the season, but Aaron’s ready to go, guys. He is ready to go. We feel confident in it. I don’t think he’ll truly be 100 percent or be the Aaron Williams we know until he hits somebody. I think that’s what’s missing right now. He’s done everything else. You might recall he even did some scout team work as the season went on for us last year. We know he’s ready, but he’s still got to get over that first contact but we feel very confident, I feel very confident, he’ll be ready.

Guys, Ronald Darby…some offseason surgeries, all of these players have been cleared to participate. Ronald Darby had the hernia; Marcell Dareus had the foo; Robert Woods, groin; Jarius Wynn had the knee. All four of those players have been cleared to participate.

These players, Marcus Easley, Stephon Gilmore, Gilmore with a shoulder, Easley with…you know what? I’ll go hockey terms. Easley, lower body; Gilmore, upper body, (Jerry) Hughes, upper body; Kyle Williams lower body. Those guys are not cleared yet to participate.

Q:  How about Seantrel Henderson’s health?

A: That’s a total different issue and he’s trying to work through that.

Q: So with Sammy Watkins not being here today, is that health related with him?

A: I said I wasn’t going to talk about anybody being here or not being here.

Q: When was the last time you spoke to Seantrel and how often until you’re going to get him 100 percent this spring?

A: Well we’ll see. I hope, for the young man’s sake, that he’s ready to roll. We’ll see, but again, that’s a medical issue.

Q: Rex, are you guys in support of Marquise Goodwin trying out for the Olympics and what happens when he has to miss part of training camp if that happens?

A: Well hopefully he makes the team, I think he’s on the verge of making it. But we’re definitely supportive of him going to the Olympics and representing our country and representing the Buffalo Bills over there. I think it’s a great honor and it’s not something we’re going to take away from the young man.

Q: Rex, thoughts on A.J. Tarpley and even though he was here such a short time, the decision he had to make to retire from football.

A: Well, everybody has to make decisions, whether you play, whether you don’t play, and things like that. I’ll say this, I certainly respect A.J.’s decision to move on, but again, everybody makes decisions of what they feel is in their best interests and I can tell you that’s what A.J. thought.

Q: You signed Zach Brown. How do you think he’s going to fit into your defense?

A: Well we’ll find out. Right now, I think he’s the starter and the backup at WILL so he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder–there’s nobody there. We’ll see how he does, but I will say this about him, obviously a very athletic guy. When he came out, he was a running back, you know, linebacker, you know, before some of these guys, he was that player. He has special athletic traits. He can really run, he has size, so we’ll see how he does. He’s certainly going to get an opportunity.

I’m excited, man. Some of the guys we picked up, like we lost a lot of good football players, that’s what happens in the NFL. We wanted to keep everybody we could, but it’s not realistic. But some of the guys we were able to add, I think these guys are going to help us, there’s no question about it. We picked up this (Robert) Blanton kid, a safety. I loved him when he came out of college; smart, tough, he played some corner, so he’s kind of versatile there. But he’ll be back there at safety competing for those spots. We really added some guys that can help on special teams, which we needed to. We lost a lot of really good special teams contributors. So, a guy like Colt Anderson is a guy that has a great reputation as primarily a special teams player, but can also be able to play some defense as well.


There’s a lot of those guys and I have to say this name, Fernando Velasco, I’m reading that one because I think I was calling him ‘Valasquez’ or something like that, so I told Scott (Berchtold) that I would do it without looking over at him. But, no, here’s a guy that has position flex as an offensive lineman, a center, a guard. I’ve played against him before. You know, there’s some good football players that we added and we’re getting ready to add some more through the draft so this team could look a lot different right after the draft, we’ll see how it goes, but I’m really comfortable with the guys we have, I’m excited about the group of guys that we have, and I think they’re excited to get back to work also.

Q: Are you content with the depth on defense at this point?
A: Well I think we need to add a couple more, when you look it looks pretty bare in a couple positions. Very confident in the fact that the draft is coming up. I know our scouts do a tremendous job, and how thorough the process is of evaluating guys, finding some Buffalo Bills. So it might not look the greatest right now in some spots, but I am confident by the time we kick it off it will look a lot different.

Q: Tyrod agent’s comments about your defense, how does that affect you and can it trickle into the locker room?
A: First off, I will take it in reverse order, I don’t think it will affect our locker room because it never came from Tyrod’s lips, you know what I mean. Our players respect the heck out of Tyrod and I know being around Tyrod that the competitor in him and all that, he realizes this is a team game it is not an individual thing or whatever. But he would never criticize his teammates in fact he is a guy that shoulders the blame more than he ducks reasonability. We all know that about him. His agent obviously thinks that is the best way to posture, or whatever. The agent is guilty of trying to get his client the best contract he can do. That is the job of an agent, the fact that he went about it this way, did it make me happy, hell no, of course not.

Q: LeSean wasn’t charged this offseason have you heard anything from the league?
A: Quite honestly the focus I have is just getting LeSean [McCoy] ready to go. And he is excited about the offseason program, so that is kind of where our focus is.

Q: How much of a benefit can it be to have the staff together for a second year knowing what your players can do?
A: Way ahead of the game. The obvious one is the quarterback position, but it is really from offensive line remember there was questions about the offensive line last year. There was questions about this, that, whatever. We are familiar now with a majority of the players on this team, so yeah it is a huge, huge advantage that we have over last season.

Q: What have been your impressions of Ed Reed as a coach after a few months?
A: I am not surprised how I feel, because I thought he would do a great job. I think it will be interesting when you get some of the player’s take of some of the new coaches that we added, how they feel about it. Obviously Ed [Reed] brings an unique skills set as far as being able to take it from the elite of the elite player and how he studies the game, playing also in this system. So that is going to be a benefit like crazy for all these guys. And he wasn’t just a player in it, he excelled in it. And I think that is going to be a big benefit to it. I think his preparation what they will see about Ed, it is unfortunate they don’t seem him as a player, because his preparation was unbelievable, it was hard to match his preparation that he would as a player. Although you could say the same thing about others that I had. But that professionalism, you talk about that all in, it is going to be interesting when the players see that. See that this is what I mean, his preparation is what I mean. Some of the coaches, we got a coach that stays in his office, three times a week he is staying right here. I am like what are you doing, you don’t have a life outside of football. But my brother doesn’t. (Laughs) I don’t know what to tell you.

Q: Are you happy with LeSean’s decision making since he has been a member of this team?
A: Look I am not going to get into specifics of off-the-field and all that. I know there is not a perfect player, there is not a perfect person and all that, including everybody in here. There are some that are better than others, I am looking at Murph [John Murphy] is outstanding, but in all seriousness this guy has done everything we have asked him to do as far as a player. His approach in this locker room, in here, he has been outstanding. Other things, I am not going to speak on somethings that happened, because guess what me, you, anybody in here don’t know the specifics of whatever and how we would have reacted also. I don’t know. But I can this, I am happy he is a Buffalo Bill, I am happy he is here. That is what I have to say about LeSean [McCoy].

Q: Did the team do its own investigation into what happened?
A: I am not going to get into things specifically about what we do or all that type of stuff. I will say this we are very satisfied LeSean McCoy is on our football team.

Q: ESPN’s NFL Nation had you starting 2-10–is that a sign of how far you still have to go?
A: Dang, it is too bad we can’t bet on games. But no I am just, hey that is somebody’s uninformed opinion in my opinion.

Q: Have you talked to Tyrod or Ed about going back to Baltimore?
A: Man I tell you what that is a tough place to play. From years of experience, 10 years of experience. That is a really tough place to play. I feel better knowing the fact that Ed Reed is not playing. I feel better that Ed is coming with me there, and we are not having to face him, we are not having to face Ray Lewis. But that is always going to be a very strong football team, a physical football team that is how Ozzie [Newsome] likes to build his teams. That is why they are perennial winners, they have a tough, physical football team. Yeah, I know a lot of those guys, I know a lot of those coaches, but the decal on the side of the helmet I know what that means. And it is brand of football, it is who they are, it is who they have been. So I know that is going to be a physical team and a physical game.

Q: There is a rumor you are introducing Donald Trump tonight, is that true?
A: Well I don’t know, we will have to stick around and find out. It will actually be interesting.

Q: So do you endorse the Republican Party?
A: Oh my gosh, that is the thing. I am going to introduce him—that is true. That is a true statement. I am not going to say who my endorsement is and all that stuff. You guys know, I will say this Chris Christie was my guy 100-percent, because we were the lap band of brothers. We both had that lap band and we really are pretty close.

G Richie Incognito
Monday, April 18, 2016

Q: How does it feel to get everything behind you as far as the contract and all that stuff?
A: It feels great. My number one goal in the offseason was to come back and be with the guys and be here but, you know, contracts are tricky situations and it was a long road and I can finally have that done and have that sense of relief and now just to be able to focus on getting back and playing ball, it’s huge.

Q: Richie, it’s one thing for players to be wearing the ‘all in’ hoodies and to be talking about that at this point in the season, or of the year, and to say the past is the past, but how much can this team learn from the things that went wrong last year and make sure that they don’t happen again this year?
A: I think that’s an integral part about being all in, is learning from the mistakes we made in the past and the inconsistencies that we had last year. We’re going to dive headfirst into this thing, evaluating everything we did right, everything we did wrong last year, and being cognizant of the fact that we didn’t finish ballgames, that we didn’t finish well enough to win a lot of ballgames that we should have. That’s huge. That’s part of the mantra and the credo of moving forward.

Q: Is it also part of it, some of the public complaints that emanated from that locker room? Especially on the defensive side?
A: You know, yeah, I think putting that in the past and moving forward as a solid unit, a unified unit, and just having cohesion and building a strong base right now, that’s the biggest part of it.

Q: So you see those guys wearing those hoodies around and do you know if that came from Rex or players kind of thought of that theme? Where did that come from?
A: I’m assuming that came from Rex because that’s how Rex is; he’s all in. He’s all in, he has his players’ backs, he’s all in to winning, he’s all about being a professional. So I’m assuming it came from him.

Q: Richie, I don’t know if you call it peace of mind, I don’t know if you call it confidence that having Tyrod (Taylor) entrenched as your starter at quarterback, compared to last year, and what kind of difference does that make for the mindset of that offense?
A: Yeah, it’s a huge difference maker for us going into the season and even going into OTAs and such, knowing that Tyrod’s the guy. We can start building cohesion as opposed to sort of sifting through a quarterback battle. I’m excited to have Tyrod back, I love playing with him, he’s a fierce competitor and he’s a dynamic playmaker for us and having him entrenched as the starter is nothing but a benefit.

Q: At this stage, it’s more about conditioning than football stuff, but what do you see in the way of changes and adjustments and stuff that can make this offense better?
A: I think the biggest thing for us is consistency. We’d come out on fire against great teams last year and we’re putting the ball in the end zone and then we’d had those lulls. And to be able to win ballgames in the NFL, you have to put up points consistently, and at critical times of the game, so I think one of our main focuses is just going to be situational football and moving the ball up and down the field and controlling the clock and scoring points when we need it.

Q: Richie, for the first time in a couple of years, the Bills are going to be having a prime time game at home on Thursday night. What’s that atmosphere going to be like?
A: I’m pumped for it. I love it. I think this city and these fans deserve that. We’ve got some crazy fans and they get into it and that’s what makes Buffalo unique and that’s what makes playing in the Ralph so special. To open up against a division rival like the Jets early in the season, prime time, I’m pumped for it.

Q: Richie, was the contract one more or one final opportunity to kind of reflect or look back on kind of maybe where you were 18 months ago and maybe reflect on how far you’ve come?
A: Yeah, no doubt. I found myself looking back on it this morning. I was really excited about getting into the building and being around the guys and 18 months ago, I didn’t have that. 18 months, I was sitting on my couch and training on my own and to be back here today, where I’m at now, it’s another milestone in this journey and another chapter that begins and I’m very excited to be around guys like (Eric) Wood and Tyrod and Shady and guys on defense, Marcell (Dareus), Jerry (Hughes) and just earning those guys respect and being able to come out and compete with them, it’s a huge honor for me and it’s what motivates me every day.

Q: Last year, you probably had more to prove than anybody in the league. How do you maintain that same fire now that you’ve got the contract and that you’ve kind of put all that behind you? How do you maintain that same intensity that you brought?
A: I think just having that beginner’s mentality. Being able to reflect on where I’ve come from and what’s put me in a position for success and that is just coming in, grinding, working as hard as I can and doing everything I can to prepare to repeat and improve on the performance I had last year.

Q: As confident as you guys are to open and build upon this season, there are people outside of this building who are very down on the Bills. I think some cable network went out and said that you guys are going to start 2-10 or something to that affect. I mean, what about the doubters? There’s people that are out there being really skeptical.
A: You know, there’s doubters in everything you do in life and you really can’t pay attention to them because as soon as you start winning a couple of ballgames, they’re right on the bandwagon, just where they were before.

Q: Where do you guys get better then? Offensively, what can you point to say and, ‘this is how we’ll improve,’ because you didn’t really sign any big name guys in free agency?
A: I think we have all the pieces in place. I think the recipe for success is just us being more consistent, us putting more points on the board in critical situations. Last year, we got in these lulls where we had these spells of three-and-out and to be successful, you can’t do that in the NFL. We’re definitely going to hang our hat on the run game and Shady and the stable of backs that we have, Karlos (Williams) and even Tyrod when he gets the ball in his hands, they’re very dangerous, so I think just building and expanding on that, having Tyrod as the starter, will just add to the consistency and hopefully translate to a lot more wins.

Q: Richie, how much different did it feel walking in the building today as it did a year ago and that you’re not tip-toeing around and not sure of how guys would react to you?
A: Yeah, completely different feeling. Walking in last year, just very nervous to get back in this locker room setting and earn the trust and respect of the guys in the locker room and now, even coming back in the building today, it’s still a process where I have to prove myself to these guys and have to prove myself to where I’m at now and prove it to myself and stay on this good trajectory. It’s exciting getting back and knowing everybody and knowing the ins and outs and getting back with the staff, Rex and G-Ro (Greg Roman), so I’m excited.

Q: Is it easier to be a leader now? Now that you have a little bit of trust built up from last year?
A: I think so, I think so. I think as the year went on last year, my leadership grew within the offense and I think the next step for me is to grow and be a leader of this team and having the trust and respect of guys in the locker room and being comfortable with just being myself and putting my best foot forward, I think my leadership role grows.

Q: You said last year you wanted to come back to Buffalo. I know a lot of it was the players in the locker room, but how much was it also ownership and how welcoming they were to you and how they treated you throughout the year?
A: Yeah. I mean from top to bottom, it was a great experience for me. You know, I sat with Terry and Kim Pegula and Doug (Whaley) and Rex were there and I just remember and reflect back on that original meeting and the conversation that we had and the good feeling I left from the meeting. So yeah, the way Kim and Terry approached this, the way they treat us as professionals, they’re making this a first class organization. Down to Doug and Russ Brandon, they’re all in this together and that’s what I want to be in. I don’t want dissention among the ranks and to come in and just see from the top down, from ownership to management to coaches to players, everybody’s all in, everybody wants to win and everybody’s eager to bring back the winning to Buffalo.

Q: And yet, if you want to talk about all in, the team is not all in on Tyrod at this point. Can that prove to be a bit of distraction when the team isn’t backing the player that should be the team’s leader at this point?
A: No, not at all. It’s not a distraction. I think that’s the business side of things, that has nothing to do with what we’re going to do on the football field and to be a professional athlete, those are the things that you have to manage and you have to block those out. We handle our end of the business and that stuff takes care of itself.

Q: You, as a veteran, seem to manage that really well, through last season and the offseason. Tyrod’s a younger guy and it’s kind of his first taste of this, what’s your feeling about him and his ability to handle this?
A: I think one of the biggest characteristic traits about Tyrod I admire is just his cool, calm, collected demeanor. Tyrod could run for a 70-yard touchdown or throw an interception; you wouldn’t know the difference. I think his demeanor will carry over and kind of help him through this situation. I’m sure on some levels it’s frustrating but I think his character and his leadership and those things, those traits, will carry him through this.

Q: What about the retirement of AJ Tarpley? He was here such a short time and your short time away from football, you must’ve appreciated the game that much more. How do you feel for AJ at this point?
A: You know, I’m excited for AJ and the other opportunities he has in life. He’s a very bright guy, he’s a Stanford graduate, and I’m assuming he had other things to go do, you know, other opportunities, and this is a rough and tough game. This is a physical game and it’s not for everybody but if you are going to be into it, you need to be fully involved and I admire AJ for being able to step away.

Q: How about that issue, though, Richie? The concussion issue and so much in the spotlight now, how much do you think about that and worry about it and how much discussion is there about it?
A: There’s discussion amongst us, there’s discussion, obviously with the ‘Concussion’ movie, which I just watched myself, it’s a prevalent issue right now. It’s one of those things where it’s at the forefront. I know the retired players are fighting their own battle against it and it’s something that doesn’t concern me. It’s one of those things where I could step off a curb tomorrow and break my ankle but it’s one of those things where I kind of block out and in all honesty, I’m in a little bit of denial about, because I don’t worry about that. I worry about playing football and being prepared, but it is a prevalent issue and a hot topic right now.

Q: What did you think of the movie?
A: I thought it was good. I thought it was good. I think it was maybe a little dramatic. I think there was, kind of showed the end for (Mike) Webster and the other guy that drove down the wrong side of the highway was a little dramatic, but you know, it’s an issue where there’s obvious links and now there’s obviously going back and forth about those links and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

QB Tyrod Taylor
Monday, April 18, 2016

Q: How about the “All In” theme?
A: Just a mindset. I love the quote. It just reminds us each and every day what we are here for, everyone being accountable, everyone coming in and working and putting best foot forward, positive mindset. Just going out and working every single day.

Q: Is it easy for you to stay positive knowing your contract situation?
A: Very easy for me to positive. I am here to work. That is what I came here to do, we are preparing for the 2016 season. I am looking forward to it.

Q: What is your view on the whole situation as far as your contract?
A: Not really a focus of mine. I’m coming here to work, to prepare myself physically and mentally for the 2016 season. The business side handles itself, whether it gets done or not, like I said it handles itself. I am just here to work and get better as a player.

Q: Your contract situation does cause a bit of a buzz every time it is brought up, how do you handle it?
A: I don’t read it. Like I said I am here to play football, I am here to prepare a 100-percent mentally and physically. I mean it is good to be around the guys, a bunch of talent as we showed last year. Just got to go out there and stay healthy as a team. That is something to have a bunch of guys in today, and guys looking forward to going out and competing this year.

Q: So it doesn’t get back to you that your agent went on Sirius and said Rex’s defense was the problem last year?
A: When it comes to last year, we won as a team and we lost as a team. Both sides are accountable, we know that as players, we know that individually. That is what we are here to do better ourselves learn from last year, and continue to move forward as a team.

Q: Where you worried you might hear about it from the team, and have you heard anything?
A: No. I have a good relationship with each and every guy in the locker room. They know the type of work I put in each and every day, they know how I feel about the team. I am an approachable guy.

Q: Your mental approach and how it differs from last year now that you know you are the starter for this team?
A: Definitely, just having a full year under your belt. Like you said established myself as a leader on the offense and for the team. Definitely it brings more confidence and more responsibility. Having a full year under Coach [Greg] Roman’s offense he expects more out of me and expects more out of our offensive unit, and we expect more amongst the players as well. We are holding ourselves to a high standard this offseason and everyone is going to go in the classroom and put in the work.

Q: You have talked about situational football and fixing that, is that a target for you?
A: Definitely a focus for us this offseason. We know that we have to be better in certain situations. Of course looking back and breaking down film over the offseason, definitely have to be better on third down. That is something we can control, a lot of those issues, a lot of those faults that we had on third down is something we can control. It is just about us learning from those situations, putting it behind us, but also moving forward and correcting ourselves.

Q: How about specific to your game, what progress do you feel you need to make?
A: Of course, continue to be better as player. Lead, like I said earlier having a year under your belt and going out there and playing as a starter comes with more responsibility, got to me a little more vocal at times. Guys are going to look to you in the heat of the moment, so you have to go out there and show that this play you can out there and enter those moments.

Q: Are you okay with playing the final year of your contract without a new one?
A: I know the contract that I signed up for last year. I understand it, I understand my contract fully. Like I said the business side, whether I am out there playing under contract or an extension my preparation does not change mentally or physically. I am here to get this team better, I am here to better myself, and do what I can to help our team compete for a Super Bowl next year.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Bills drafting a quarterback in this year’s draft?
A: It is competition at every position. I competed last year and I will continue to compete.

Q: Do you feel at all snubbed with all the other quarterback, like Brock Osweiler contracts this offseason?
A: I can’t control that. Brock, congrats to him, he was going into a free agent year so of course his deal was up. Can’t control that, I don’t look at that and compare that do me. We are in two totally different situations.

Q: Where you extra excited to see Baltimore week one?
A: For sure. It is going to be fun to go back and play against a team that I played for four years. Actually I had just seen Joe [Flacco] a couple weeks ago. I actually still talk to those guys, so it is definitely going to be fun to go back and play with them. Our focus now is to stay healthy, and I am definitely looking forward to that one.

Q: Do you get annoyed with that references to you not throwing over the middle and it affecting your contract?
A: Annoyed, I wouldn’t say annoyed. I mean I could show you plenty of times where I threw across the middle of the field. Can I be better? Yes, at every position. Guys want to strive to get better and that is what I am going to focus on doing. Whether or not that is a reason for a contract issue, I don’t know. Like I said I am here to learn from my mistakes last year and be better moving forward.

Q: Is that a weakness in your game in your opinion?
A: No, like I said each year you strive to get better. You want to learn from certain situations, but I wouldn’t that is a weakness because I have shown that I can do that.

Q: How good can you and Sammy be if you stay healthy together?
A: We can be very good. Definitely looking forward to actually having a full offseason of working with Sammy [Watkins] and amongst the rest of the, a lot of the time we have with the offensive unit. This time last year you all guys probably didn’t even know who I was. Definitely different being back as the established starter. Looking forward to working and having the first team reps. Definitely looking forward to working at that and building chemistry throughout the offseason.

Q: How is the knee?
A: The knee is fine.

Q: Do you expect to play without a brace?
A: For sure. I didn’t wear a brace the last week actually.

Q: Where you ever able to sync up schedules to work out with the guys?
A: No, some guys where finishing up schools, some guys were traveling with family. We are getting everybody back here this offseason, we will be able to work on our own for as far as phase one and phase two goes. And then the five week break we have we will definitely spend some more time too.

Q: How much more of a benefit will it be to have all the starter reps this offseason?
A: I think it will be very beneficial. We were able to get on the same page throughout the year last year. So I think looking back if we would have just had an offseason we would have been even better. So looking forward to working with the guys, I couldn’t wait to get back. Like I said I believe in this team 100-percent, got a bunch of talent, it is just us going out there and making it happen. Having a year under our belt brings more confidence, but like I said it is more expectation too.

Q: Any of the wide receivers you worked with at Kurt Warner’s game coming in for a tryout?
A: No, that a was great team—but it was more older guys.

Q: Did you have fun though?
A: Yeah it was fun, it was my second year. I was thankful Kurt [Warner] put me back out there. We actually beat him in the championship and last year we knocked him out of the playoffs. It was a fun event.

Q: Is there anything specific you’ve worked on this offseason in your training?
A: I would say cleaning up my footwork in the pocket. It was something that I definitely focused on. Of course you want to be balanced on every throw and it is something that I focused on. Just like I said cleaning up my footwork, my overall game, and of course studying film too.

Q: You mentioned you didn’t want the focus on the contract, do you have to tell your agent to not make it public?
A: Honestly, I don’t read anything about the contract. I understand the situation I am in. That stuff is really up to my agent and the business side, I mean the management office. I told you my job is to come here and prepare as hard as I can mentally, and physically and let the rest play for itself.

S Aaron Williams
Monday, April 18, 2016

Q: How does it feel to be back?
A: It feels amazing. It has been so long since I have been with the team actually, I have been at home for the most part. But being back here, just working out with the guys, running with the guys, lifting with the guys just feels right, feels great.

Q: So you are good to go?
A: Yeah, I am fully cleared to play. Talked to all the coaches, talked to all the training staff and the doctors and we really went and evaluated everything and made sure I was 100% before I got back out there.

Q: Is there going to be any testing phase with your neck and contact?
A: The only thing in my mind that is going to be the number one test is actually going out there and when we put the pads on and start hitting. That is the number one test. We can do as many strength tests and mental tests as we can, but it is all going to come down to when we put the pads on.

Q: That is still a ways away.
A: Still a ways away. But my focus right now is get in the best shape possible. Get my face in the playbook as much as possible. When the time does come and it is time to hit, then worry about it.

Q: Do you have any doubt?
A: None at all. If I had any doubt then I wouldn’t be playing. That was the one thing we talked about with the trainers, if there is any doubt possible than there is no reason for me to be out there. When you are out there you need to be 100% positive that you can play.

Q: Given your starting role and your uncertainty, what were the conversations with the team about them addressing the position this offseason?
A: Once again I can’t really answer that, because it hasn’t happened yet. But they are going to take every precaution just like they should and I should. I am not going to push myself to the limit to where I feel like I am hurting and I should keep playing just because I feel like I need to be out there. If my body is not capable of being out there going 100% then even the slightest little injury, I am going to remove myself from the situation and then get evaluated and they feel like I am better and capable of going back out on the field, then I will go back out there.

Q: What has been the biggest struggle so far, anything in particular?
A: No, not really. I think the biggest hurdle for me was actually when I first got out of surgery and was not able to move my neck for about three weeks. Other than that getting my strength back, doing mobility stuff hasn’t been an issue. Actually has been quite fun, I am taking this whole experience to the next level. As far as you know enjoying my time in this business.

Q: Did you go back in too early last year?
A: Looking back I definitely did go back too early. But at that time I was young and trying to prove something. Prove that I am strong and that nothing can really phase me, but at the end of the day I got to look at my health.

Q: Did you know you weren’t going to be able to move your neck for three weeks?
A: Yeah, before surgery they told me what my post-surgery was going to be. And even after surgery I knew. If I slightly turned my neck, I knew not to do it because that pain was still there a little bit.

Q: How tough was it to be only part of three games and see the defense struggle?
A: Man, it hurt. It sucks being at home watching my teammates go out there and grind and give everything they have for this team and for this city. And for me to just sit there, look at the TV and say I wish I could do that. I would still study our opponents each and every week. It is hard when I see something coming and they do it and if I was there and I could have done a better job or whatever. I feel like those guys did the best they could and that is in the past now. I am back and I am ready to go.

Q: Have you given anything thought to altering your tackling technique?
A: Actually the number one guys I really talked to was Ed [Reed]. Because Ed has neck injuries in his career. I actually had a one-on-one talk with him to see what I can do to change my game a little bit as far as tackling. I don’t really go in there as aggressive as I really want to. There is certain ways of tackling and not really going full force and trying to knock a guy out clean. So I am learning as I go through.

Q: Prior to today how much contact did you have with Ed, and how much can he help?
A: The only contact I had with him was when I had my little check up here in March. And then the meeting we had just now.

Q: How much do you think he can help this defense?
A: I mean Ed [Reed] is a Hall of Famer. He brings so much to the table. Not only being a coach, but a guy that has actually been there, that has been on the field, that was a player for X amount of years. You know his accolades speak for himself. So brining that knowledge into the room is actually going to help us a lot.

Q: Rex vowed the defense will be better next year. With the losses on defense, is that realistic?
A: I mean I feel like every team wants to grow each year. No team just wants to stay the same. In my mind, yes we will be a lot better than we were last year. No excuses with last year, with injuries or miscommunications or all that, that is in the past. They brought the people they wanted in and our job is to just be in that playbook and listen to guys like Ed Reed, guys like Tim McDonald and Rex [Ryan] and Rob [Ryan]. Those guys are there for us, our saying is all in. As long as we are all in, and do our jobs, there is really nobody, it is going to be hard to stop us.

Q: How much can the communication improve with you coming back?
A: Will our communication increase with me being there? Absolutely. When you have guys that are experienced and have been on the field and the guys that I practice with each and every day it is kind of hard to break that chemistry. When you bring in new guys each week you don’t really know how that certain person plays, so it is hard. As far as that other stuff I mean with Ed [Reed] being here, I am going to keep bringing Ed up as much as possible because Ed is one of the guys,  Ed is really going to bring my game to the next level. I am trying to be where Ed is at. So I am doing everything I can, putting my face in the playbook and watch film where he was doing, when he was playing and take it to the field.

Q: You mentioned all in and you have the hoodie on, is that saying from players or Rex?
A: Man, it is the Buffalo Bills saying. It comes from the top of the office, it comes from the media guys, it comes from the trainers, it comes from the guys in the kitchen, it comes from whoever is a Buffalo Bills employee. No matter what.

Q: Is that new this offseason?
A: I mean that is what our saying is.

Q: And is it in reaction to the public complaints coming out of that locker room last year?
A: I mean that is last year, we are not going to talk about that. Guys that were there last year are not with us today, we are not really going to focus on what happened in the past. We are all in like I said. We are in the present and this is our future. So we are all going to come in together and do our jobs.

Q: As a veteran, does it ever get any easier when guys leave?
A: Never gets easy. Never gets any easier because you become so close with these guys that you grind with 16 weeks out of the year. And you go through a lot with ups and downs. But we all know in this business things like that are going to happen. This is the NFL, some guys go some guys stay, at the end of the day where you are at, you are going to give it your all.

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