Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doug Marrone Opening Statement:

Hello everyone. It’s good to see everyone again, obviously it’s the start for us of phase one. We started today with our players. Obviously we’re extremely excited as coaches and as an organization when the players start coming back in this building. Even though you’re limited to doing a lot of things and we know it’s voluntary. It’s great to see the players back knowing that we do have a lot of hard work ahead of us. Obviously coming off a disappointing season last year, so again we look forward to that hard work. I talked to the team and the organization today and we talked to them about our theme being getting better every day. I think that’s important as we go through these days and we go through these phases. That we continue to do that so that we can field a better football team that can accomplish what our goals will be going in to this 2014 season. 

Q: Do you expect full attendance today? A: I am aware of everybody, so I’m aware of everyone that is here and I’m aware of the issues that have come out. I don’t really check it or in other words we don’t sit down and say that because it is voluntary. We appreciate the players that are here and understand if the players have other commitments and can’t get there. I’m obviously very happy, extremely happy with the players that are present today.

Q: When you say your theme is getting better every day, I know that applies to everybody, but is it more important at quarterback to keep getting better each day? A: Sure, I think it’s like all the other players. Everyone has inconsistencies in what they do and they can work on it. As far as EJ (Manuel), you look at our situation last year at this time when we first started phase one, really none of the quarterbacks that played for us were even in the building. Now all of a sudden we have quarterbacks who have played that are in the building and we have EJ who has experience coming back and we’re excited about that. That’s probably a big relief I should say. When the unknown of not knowing what it’s going to be like when a player goes in to his first NFL game and plays, to a point now where we have some experience. Granted it’s not a lot of experience, I understand that, but at least we’ve seen them in those situations and that’s what gets us excited.

Q: How much of a difference do you think that can make for EJ? A: Not just for EJ, but for all the other, I was going to say freshman, but rookies that come in, I think it’s important because when you look at what they’ve gone through. The same with the class that’s coming up with this draft, you go through a college season, you’re picking who your agent is going to be, you’re picking out where you’re going to work out. You immediately go in to this training program, you might have some all-star games and then you’re prepping for this draft. Obviously it’s the first time everything is being scrutinized. There’s really an uncertainty in your destination and where it’s going to be. All of a sudden you’re drafted by a team and you’re on a new team and it’s a new system. I think it could be potentially very overwhelming for some players when they go through it. When you look at the players now I think what you said is correct. They know most of the players on the team, right now I believe we have 75 players and that’s quite a bit when you look around the league. Most of those players were on the team last year, so they do know each other.. They do where things are and they do know how we do things and I think that helps in the progression of getting better.

Q: What is the timeline on when EJ will be 100 percent healthy? A: I’m going to discuss, I talked to Scott (Berchtold) about this and the doctors have gotten in and they’re seeing all the players and things like that. I’m going to discuss all of the injury situations and everything when we start with OTA’s with who is available and who is not. He’s been working at least on his own from what he told me. I have not seen him; I’m not allowed to watch anything.

Q: What is the ballpark percentage of the number of players who came today? A:  In the high 90’s. The players that aren’t, I have been in contact with. We’ll be at 100 percent shortly. What happens are legitimate things, people have babies and things like that and we understand that. I think it’s important and I especially would appreciate this, this is an important point for me to make sure that we understand that when we do talk about this phase, it’s very important for our organization because of the CBA and the rules that we always keep saying, and if you could say this I would appreciate it, it’s a voluntary period. It’s very, very important. If someone writes something in this room that assumes that we’re not looking at this phase as non-voluntary, that can cause people to look in to what we’re doing and obviously we’re obeying all the rules. I appreciate that.

Q: Tell us what we need to know about Brandon Spikes. He has a little bite to his personality and a lot of bite to his game. What is it about him that you wanted on this team? A: I think you just mentioned it. He’s a physical football player who has been very good against the run. Obviously we’ve been here for a year and we didn’t do as good of a job as we need to going forward and stopping the run. I think bringing in someone like Brandon Spikes gives us the ability to help us solve that problem.

Q: Personality-wise what does he bring? A: I like his personality. I have no issues at all with his personality. We met and spent a lot of time together, both of us, to make sure it was a good fit. We do that with all of the players that come in here. They sit down with not just myself, but obviously Doug Whaley and Russ Brandon and Jim Monos and the coaches. We want to make sure that we’re around the player quite a bit so we can look in to it. It’s a good fit for both of us.

Q: What do you like about him that we may not know about him? A: He’s won. He won at Florida, when he went to Florida. He’s won at New England when he was at New England. He’s a physical player that plays in a physical game. I think that he’s emotional and I like that about him. He’s fired up to be here today, he’s fired up to help our football team and I think from all his actions, those are all the actions you want all of our players coming in to this program to have.

Q: Do you have any issues with how he has engaged fans on Twitter and on social media? A: Well that’s the first time I’ve known exactly what was said, someone did mention something of that issue. Those are the first time I heard the words. Again I wasn’t there when he was there (in New England). I think in all social media, even at home with my children. My sense is to make sure everyone has a sense of responsibility in how they use it and what they say. Obviously we live in a democratic society with free speech. Obviously you would know better than anyone of what we have. I don’t have any issues when players say what they believe and what they really feel is in their hearts. As long as it’s being productive for the team.

Q: How does it work with meeting time with coaches? Do they have their playbooks? A: Absolutely they do. They spend a lot of their time obviously with the lifting and the running, which we’re not a part of or can we look at or view or be in the weight room. We’ll probably have about an hour and 20 minutes of meetings and there are breaks obviously to go. The players will have their iPads and what we’re doing is basically putting in the foundation of the system with offense and defense. We start with that with phase one and then when phase two comes in we’ll start implementing the special teams and we’ll start going on the field with our players and work with them on an individual basis.

Q: Where are you at with quarterbacks? A: I’m happy with the depth of where we are now with our quarterback situation, but at the same time I don’t think that limits us of keeping all our options open if we wanted to upgrade some of those situations.

Q: How valuable do you think it was for EJ to get those groups together to throw the ball in California and in Florida? A: I think it’s good. I give them credit, the players for getting together and trying to get better. I think it shows the commitment they have to getting us back to where we want to be.

Q: In Mike Williams and Brando Spikes you’ve brought in a couple players who have had some trouble off the field. Why has the organization become comfortable with brining in guys that are perceived risks? A: I think perceived is the word that you said, but I can understand that and why they would perceive that. I believe in giving people chances. They have a chance to come in here and it’s a clean slate. They have a chance to prove that they’re on the right track.

Q: Are there risks in your mind? A: I think there are risks in bringing in anyone. Any player, any coach, anyone you bring in to any organization, I think there is an amount of risk that you take. With those players there I go back to the same thing. It’s a clean slate for them. Mike Williams is from here and he has an opportunity to live a dream. He’s been a Buffalo Bills fan his whole life and can come to his hometown and help this organization get back to where it should be and get to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Brandon Spikes can come back here, wants to be a three down backer; he’s going to work extremely hard towards that. He has a physical presence and he feels he can help us win. Those are the type of players we want. Obviously everyone on our team understands how they should act and what they should do. We talked to them about what it’s like to be in the NFL and there are a lot of rules and regulations from the NFL in how the players should behave.

Q: Is Mike one of the players that is here and will be taking part in the afternoon session? A: Yeah, he’s here.

Q: How much of a challenge has it been this offseason to focus with everything going on with the passing of Mr. Wilson and the organization being for sale? A: Well I think it’s a lot of things. We talked today about one of the things that I’ve always talked to the coaches and the players about is to make sure that you learn or understand to control what you can control and I think that is important. Obviously I stand here and I pain for a lot of the people that have put their heart and soul in this organization. Obviously with the team being sold or going to be sold, these people have put their heart and soul in it. It’s a community; our careers as players and coaches are sometimes short lived. We understand that we may be some place for a couple years and then move onto a different team and organization. The people in this building, the sacrifice they make and the commitment and the extra time they put in it’s obviously an identity for them that goes beyond just a paycheck. For us, we understand that we have to go out there and win and that’s what our focus is and that’s what our mission is. If we can do that and focus our attention on that and the things we can control, I can guarantee you we’ll win more games this year. If we don’t and we start thinking about the things we can’t control and get sidetracked, then we’ll lose our focus and that will hurt us in winning football games.

Q: You mentioned 14 seasons without playoffs, was that part of your message to the players today? A: Absolutely.

Q: What amount of focus does that need to end? A: It’s been put at a high priority for us, it really has. That’s what it is. You have to get everyone on the same line; everyone has to understand that it’s about winning. A lot of times we think of our roles as, my role is to coach the team, some roles are to play offensive guard or to play corner. Or PR or selling tickets or doing that, but I told everyone what we need to put on top of that job description is win. That’s what we have to do. When that is at the top of your job description, you can hold everyone more accountable and you can push each other and you can develop a trust and a respect. It gives you the ability to get better each and every day and that is what we’re trying to accomplish.

Q: In the lead up to the draft and you see the stocks for players fluctuating all the time, what are your thoughts on that craziness? A: I always just go back to the film.. For me, you have to remember that it’s interesting how misunderstood I believe a lot of how the draft works. I know there is a movie out, I haven’t seen it yet. Has anyone seen that movie? Does it give a good description? Obviously my role in it is that I get a chance to be part of the process and write a player up. I’m only going to look at what I see on film and I’m going to write that player up. That’s it. As far as everything else, I don’t really follow the ups and the downs because I think Doug (Whaley) can give you a better answer that that because as a coach, for me, if I wanted a player what do I care where I pick him? When ti comes down to the picks of is he worthy of being number nine, is he worthy of being number one, is he worthy of being 15 or you’d rather take this player at 18 rather than nine. Kiko Alonso played every single snap for us and we took him in the second round. What would have happened if we took him in the first round with our first pick? Everyone here would have said that’s pretty good, but back then everyone would have said, ‘What the heck are they doing? This guy is a second rounder.’ So I can’t answer that question, I look at it sometimes and I just smile.

Q: We could talk for an hour about the players that have gone late in the draft that have become stars. A: An hour is really cheating it. We could really sit here all day and that is what is amazing about talk radio and all those things. Like the John Murphy radio show or people that have radio shows, they can talk. I’ll never forget, when I used to recruit in New York City, (Mike) Francesca at the time was on the radio. He would be on for a long period of time and we’re driving around to all these schools and you get stuck in traffic and you can picture just how that is. I turn on his radio show and they’re talking about the Yankees from the first time he got on that show until I got in the car after going to six or seven schools. They were talking about the same subject. I think that’s what happens with the draft. People keep going back and they keep looking at the insider and they keep looking at ESPN and keep reading the articles to see what is going on. It’s crazy. It’s a crazy time of year.

Q: Does moving the draft back a couple of weeks have any impact on what you guys are doing? A: No, I think Doug has done a good job of trying to keep it as the same type of mindset, the same type of work areas and how far out we’re doing our readings up until the draft. Doug has handled all of that.

Q: From the other end, after the draft does it condense what you do in workouts and mini-camps? A: It’s the same as before. I think what is tough for us is the challenge for us is the rookie mini-camp. I talked to Scott (Berchtold) when we put it out. I’m not a believer of bringing a bunch of people in just to have a camp. We have 75 players here already; we don’t have that many that are eligible for camps, so we’ll run it more like an individual practice.

Q: Have you finalized when you will be going to St. John Fisher for training camp? A: I’ve actually planned out the first two weeks, so I’m working on the schedule. It actually has two weeks done for camp that I’ve done already. I’m waiting for the schedule to come out which I think will be Wednesday or Thursday, I’m not sure on that. I think when that comes out and I can see the total season of what we’re doing and how we’re doing things I’ll be able to put it together and we’ll be ready to roll.

Q: Are the planned practices with Pittsburgh still going to happen? A: Yeah. I plan on that going forward. I talked to Coach Tomlin and he’s excited about it. Right now we’re all waiting on the same thing which is the schedule.

Q: Are you going down a few days before your preseason game? A: Absolutely we will. When we solidify those plans, we’ll get them out right away.

Q: You talked about the clean slate Mike Williams has with the team, how much do you look forward to having a clean slate with him yourself after the way things ended in Syracuse? A: Yeah, Mike and I have talked about that in private conversations. I feel great about it and I’m sure Mike does too.

QB EJ Manuel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Q: How was your offseason? A: My offseason was good. Very productive and I’m excited to be back.

Q: You met up with some guys in Florida first and then in California so you could practice with them. Can you talk about that? A: Actually it was California first, but as far as football I really didn’t take a true offseason necessarily as far as straight up taking time off. I might have taken one week after I left Buffalo to hang out with my family and then after that it was getting myself healthy and also getting smarter in the film room. We had a workout in California for a week and we had another workout down in Miami. I had a great group of guys that came and we got a lot of work done.

Q: How many days were they? A: Miami was for four days and California was for five.

Q: In California was C.J. Spiller, Tony Moeaki, Brandon Kaufman, Chris Gragg and some of those guys. Who was in Miami? A: Stevie (Johnson), Kevin Elliott and Brandon Kaufman.

Q: Stevie said you were more vocal when you were working out. Do you feel your confidence level has been raised with a year under your belt? A: Yeah, definitely. The main reason was because I’ve been doing so much studying I can pretty much go out there and call whatever I want to call. We were playing around with audibles and changing up some of our verbiage and stuff like that to work on in the OTA’s when we get back out on the practice field. As far as me maturing as a quarterback and as this team’s quarterback, that is what they want from me. That’s what I want to be able to do, I want to have the responsibility to tell those guys that the route wasn’t right and they won’t take that personally.

Q: How much were you able to digest and put in to perspective what you went through last year and how much will you be able to grow from that? A: Tons. I think I looked at every rep that I took last year and I’ve learned from all of them. Whether it was a good play or a bad play, I had some success and I had some bad games as well which is obvious. I’m just looking forward to now the ultimate goal which is moving forward to this next portion of our offseason. Getting everybody back in Buffalo and it’s cool to see familiar faces, it’s not like I’m brand new anymore. It was really good to see everybody this morning.

Q: Would you characterize yourself as a full participant this morning? A: Full participant.

Q: Now that you look back on last year, besides the injuries how would you characterize how you played? Were you happy as a rookie or did you feel you needed to be better? A: I think previous to the injury; well I had the injury, the first one, in preseason so I think I played pretty good. I know there is a lot of area for me to grow and that’s why I took these last four months to allow that growth. Even when I was trying to rehab and things like that I was still trying to get better mentally. I think there is a lot out there for myself as a quarterback to get better.

Q: Doug Marrone and Doug Whaley have been very clear in their comments that if they brought in a quarterback it would only be to serve as a mentor for you because this is your team. How much does that support mean to you? A: That’s huge. I’m already a motivated person anyway, but having that added support from the higher ups like our head coach, our GM and our president–that helps me get up even more motivated every morning. I don’t mind waking up at whatever time to get ready and get here to be prepared. To know that they’re counting on me, I’m counting on them just the same way. We’re all in this together to try to get this team turned around.

Q: How would you react if the Bills drafted a quarterback? A: Whoever we do draft, even if it’s a quarterback, I am a good teammate. So whoever it is, if he comes in and wants to compete that’s great, but I’m going to still continue to get better ultimately for myself to help bring this team up because I really feel like when I play better everything is going to change, so I’ve been busting my tail.

Q: How much do you feel there is a need to prove yourself? A: I agree. A year after you’re drafted you have one year under your belt so I know you usually want to make that big jump from your rookie year to your second year, your sophomore year. I’m eager about it. I’m very excited and I think I’m taking the right steps right now. I tried to jot down everything I felt I needed to work on and I felt like I made the proper steps up to this point and helped myself get prepared for that so now it’s just staying a part of the plan.

Q: What can you tell us about how your knees are? A: No limitations. I haven’t had any limitations throughout the whole offseason since it was time for me to start working out and running and throwing. No limitations at all, I feel great.

Q: What did you think of the acquisition of Mike Williams? A: I think that was a huge pickup for us. Besides him being a Buffalo native and I think that’s great for the city for Mike to come back home and play for his hometown team, but I’m very excited to have him as part of our receiving corps. We have great talent at receiver already, but to add Mike in to that mix is going to be really good for us.

Q: According to the offseason rules, you have your exit meetings at the end of the season and then you can’t meet with them until today. So how do you come up with your plan for this offseason? A: Yeah definitely. It was back and forth. I went ahead and told him what I felt I needed to work on and he just piggybacked off of it. I was pretty spot on to whatever he thought because I’m very honest with myself. I’m not going to sit here and say a 6-10 season is ok because it’s not. I know me as a quarterback, I can extremely help that. We both had some great ideas moving forward and like I said I’ve been sticking to that plan and want to remain on it.

Q: So did you have last year’s playbook or did you turn it in? A: We returned the iPad, but I have a paperback book of it.

Q: So you had an offseason game plan? Did you watch a lot of film of yourself from last season? A: Right, we have access to what is called the ThunderCloud and you can go on that. We used to have Hudl, but we changed to ThunderCloud so I had access to that. I was in contact with our IT guys upstairs throughout the whole offseason making sure things were updated.

Q: So you could watch anything you needed? A: Yeah, I had everything. I still made trips here and did some studying here as well, but for the most part I still made sure I was getting everything I needed wherever I was.

Q: For someone who didn’t have injury trouble until last year, do you just chalk it up as one of those weird situations and how eager are you to prove that you can stay on the field? A: I’m very eager. I haven’t had any setbacks since I had everything taken care of and it’s healed up great. I feel fine, I feel normal and I think that was one of the things last year. Sometimes it doesn’t feel normal anytime you have an injury and I’m very eager to play a full 16 game regular season. Having five preseason games is going to help not just myself, but our team. Guys that may not have gotten reps or more reps in the preseason, they’ll get a better chance to show what they can do. For me it will be five more times to get ready before we get in to the regular season.

Q: How beneficial is it to be a part of a team at this time this year compared to last year? A: It’s awesome. I guess last year this time I was probably on a flight to one of the teams and doing private workouts or visiting with coaches and things like that. To have all that stuff done, the whole process out of the way and just being able to focus from January to this point now as far as getting ready for September has been great for me. I know who I’m working with, I know my teammates and they know me. I know the guys families better, I know the veteran guys. Obviously I know all the rookies because we came at the same time and I know the veterans better now. We hung out over the offseason and had a good time, so it’s a lot better feeling.

Q: This last offseason you worked with Ken Mastrole, you have your own coaches here, but did you go back to him this offseason? A: I worked out with Ken a little bit, but I mainly did my work with Steve Calhoun. He has Armed and Dangerous Football camps or whatever it’s called, but he’s my quarterback trainer. He’s helped me out a lot, especially with the footwork. After my knees healed up you had to kind of get back in to the actual movements you would do in a game so he helped me out a lot.

Q: Where is he based? A: He’s based in Los Angeles and I had him come out to Florida to me.

Q: Was that your first time working out with him? A: It wasn’t. I knew Steve my junior year of college, so we’ve had a previous relationship form that point.

Q: How much do you pay attention to the prospects that the Bills are looking at in the draft and for selfish reasons do you hope they bring in an offensive guy? A: I definitely pay attention to them because I watch games on Saturdays just like everybody else does so you’re obviously going to catch the best talent out there. I know (Eric) Ebron is a great player, a great tight end. Mike Evans is another great receiver and any time you watch Johnny Football (Johnny Manziel) you see Mike Evans.. I think whoever they do draft, obviously I’m going to be excited to have them on our team. Whether they go offense or defense I think it will be a great piece to add to our team.

Q: Did you meet Mike Evans today? A: I didn’t. I’ve been rolling all morning so I haven’t had the chance to meet him, but if he’s still here I’ll talk to him.

Q: How do you feel about the addition of quarterbacks coach Todd Downing? A: I thought it was good. I knew Todd Downing from the Senior Bowl, so he and I worked together for a week and we kept in contact while he was in Detroit and I was with the Bills. We kept in contact, just saying what’s up and things like that. It’s funny how things happen, I think Todd is going to be a great addition to our room and I know he’s going to do a great job helping us.

Q: Did you accomplish what you set out to do when working out with the guys in Florida and California? A: Yeah, I think the biggest thing was to get back in to football mode. We had receivers working out where I was anyways and they were great receivers from around the league, but at the same time I want to throw to my guys. As far as getting the timing down or enunciating plays and changing plays at the line, this is the time you can do that stuff. When you’re in the game, you need to just execute what we have called. When you get the opportunity to go out on the field and it’s just you five or six guys and nobody is watching or timing you, you can take all the time you want and go through out everything you want to do.

Q: Did Chad Ochocinco join the group in Miami? A: Yeah, he came out one day. I’m young still, so a guy like Ochocinco wanting to come out and catch some balls with me was awesome. He’s a very funny guy and an interesting dude. He still has it, he’s pretty good.

Q: Were you at the Rose Bowl? A: Yeah.

WR Stevie Johnson

Tuesday, April 22, 2014  

Q: How do you feel about being back and how was your offseason? A: I feel good, my offseason was good. I had a lot of time to spend with the family and I’m just happy to be back now.

Q: What do you think about what they’ve added to the roster so far? A: I think they’ve made a lot of improvements. They made good additions to the team. We’ll see how it all plays out when we get on the field together. I’m confident in the squad so far it’s only the first day, but a lot of guys showed up. I think it’s a good move.

Q: How difficult was it for you to end the season mourning your mom and just the way things finished up? A: It was very emotional.. It was a difficult time at the end of the year, but at the end of the day I think it helped me with my mental toughness and I think that is going to help for this season. Maybe I can be an example for other players on this team or maybe around the league, but just speaking for the Bills, it was emotional, but it happened. I’m glad to be back right now.

RB C.J. Spiller

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Q: EJ (Manuel) was in here and he looks like a different guy. He looks like he’s confident; did you notice anything in the offseason with him?

A: Oh yeah, I got the opportunity to go out there and work with him in California and you can see he had more zip on the ball. His confidence level was always there and you can definitely tell he was ready to take that next step in becoming a leader with this team and I’m looking forward to it. Injuries played a big part in lessening his development, but he is past that now and ready to get back to work.

Q: How are you feeling with the nagging injuries you had? A: 28 percent. I feel good. Did a lot of things in this offseason to try to see where I was at and it responded well. I will continue to do what I need to do to make sure I’m ready to go come September, but for the most part I feel pretty good.

Q: Is the frustration of that injury behind you? A: Yeah, it’s all behind me. I won’t forget what everybody was writing in the papers, so I kind of have that fire burning inside. I’m ready to get back on the field and really start playing again.

Q: You’re entering the final year of your contract. What are your thoughts on that? A: It’s too early right now. I really haven’t thought about it. I’ve just been hanging out with family and coming back up here and working out with the guys and seeing what I can get better at as a player. I haven’t given it any thought to this possibly of this being my last year.

DE Jerry Hughes

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Q: Are you excited to be here? A: Always. I’m excited to get back to football and get all the guys back in and we get to get together and go over the playbook and really just get back too football. It’s been a long offseason, so I’m definitely excited to be back.

Q: How is the playbook different this year and how do you see your role changing? A: We’re switching up the scheme a little bit, but we’ll kind of figure that out as we go. It’s just day one and it was basically an introduction time with everybody getting to know the new coaches and all the players getting to know the guys that are new. We’ll figure that out as the phases continue to move on and everything like that.

Q: Did you meet Coach Schwartz for the first time today? A: I met him for the first time today, probably just going to get up there and get in to his office later on in the afternoon after he gets settled in and I can get settled in with the whole construction and everything going on.

LB Brandon Spikes

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Q: How does it feel to be in Buffalo? A: It feels great. This is a great place and it’s a great organization. The fan base is wonderful, everything just feel great about this. I’m happy and I’m ready to get to work.

Q: What was your perception about the Bills when you were with the Patriots? A: I did, I always competed against those guys. It’s kind of weird being on the opposite and now I’m with them. I always thought they had a lot of great players and they played hard. They were just missing something, so I’m here and I know a lot of people play with a lot of attitude and however I can contribute, I am all in. I’m happy to be here.

Q: You haven’t been afraid to engage with fans on Twitter. A: This is a free country and that is what twitter is for. I use it to interact with my fans. I feel like if it was vice versa I’d want them to reach out to me. It’s just fun, you can make a guy’s day and I get a kick out of it.

Filed under: Buffalo Bills

Tagged with:

Readers Comments (0)

Sorry, comments are closed on this post.