Head Coach Doug Marrone

Monday, August 25, 2014

Q: Injuries?

A: Scott Berchtold: Mario [Butler] still has the ankle, [Jonathan] Meeks with a neck and Lee Smith with a toe.

Q: Was Sammy [Watkins] full-go today or was he still limited?

A: No limits.

Q: Do you think that Erik Pears’ spot for the foreseeable future is at guard?

A: I do. I thought he did some really good things against who I respect as one of the top players at his position [Gerald McCoy]. I agree with you. I like him there at right guard and I like Seantrel [Henderson] at right tackle. I’m not going to totally commit myself to it, notwithstanding if an injury occurs something might change. If everyone remains healthy and everyone is the same and they continue to keep playing as they’re playing, I see that as where we’ll go.

Q: Are you still planning to play your starters in the last preseason game?

A: I’m going to play some. I’m looking to play those guys. How much is dependent upon how the week goes and what we want to accomplish, but I do plan on playing them.

Q: Do you expect EJ [Manuel] to be one of those guys that starts?

A: Absolutely. It’s probably more on the offensive side, the thought process, than the defensive side. When I say that I just want to make sure everyone understands that I may not play every single starter, but on offense I want to play guys that haven’t played together in a while.

Q: Can you talk about the progression of Leodis [McKelvin] from his groin injury?

A: Yeah, I think it’s the same. I think when a player is out for awhile and you come back, which I think we saw with Stephon [Gilmore] earlier in the preseason. I think we see that with Leodis now, so we expect him to just get better and better and progress from there. I think it’s a progression. I don’t think you can put him right back on the field and expect him to be at the same level he was when he was playing his best.

Q: Will Stephon be one of those guys that will start on Thursday night?

A: There’s a lot that goes into it guys. I’m not trying to fool anyone. [It depends on] how they feel, how they progress, what’s going on. I think a guy that’s done things in the past, that’s shown it, that’s practiced quite a bit in training camp and has played a lot during training camp are guys that we potentially might not have to see.

Q: What is your overall level of concern in regards to the poor play for the backup quarterback spot?

A: With EJ we’re obviously looking for him to progress and keep coming along. We’ll keep working with him and do everything we can to make him better. It’s no different than any other player we have starting for us. We really need to get better production out of the next group of guys, with the two backup quarterbacks we have on our roster now. [We need] greater production from everyone, especially on the offensive side. We discussed that with them.

Q: Is it concerning that the backup quarterback play has been so poor when you want to be a contender?

A: Yes, it is. I think it’s what you see. They have to play better. We have to look to see if there’s someone who can better that position, like we would any other position. If we feel that, at the end of the day, it’s not good enough to win with, which we haven’t seen yet, there’s only two ways to go. Either you put a lot of work into those guys and get them better to get to the position where you feel comfortable with it or you have to upgrade that position every other way.

Q: Would you rather give your starters an opportunity to rest this one?

A: I think it depends on the situation. If you told me that we had a veteran and we have a lot of playoff experience, a lot of winning experience and have got guys that have played together for eight or nine years and they’ve proven themselves and they’ve worked their butts of in training camp then I might tend to rest of them during this time. Where we are right now I don’t think we can afford to. If you sit up here and say, ‘Hey, guys we need to work and we need to get better.’ How do I not go out there and play some guys to get better? Then you guys would be like, ‘Hey, this is an opportunity to get better.’ Sometimes practice can be a false sense of where you are. Sometimes, during a game, it’s where you are and sometimes it’s not as good as it may seem and sometimes it’s not as bad as it may seem. That’s where you have to be good is when you get out there and play in those games. That’s where people separate themselves a little bit.

Q: Has EJ shown you enough that you can go into the season confident that you will be a playoff contender?

A: At that position, just him alone, we have to have other people around him playing well. There’s no doubt about that. We have to play well around him. There are things that go on that are very difficult to see, but like I said before, you watch the game and people say, ‘What happened on this play? What happened on that play?’ Sometimes people aren’t where they should be and it’s the same whole story. When you win he gets too much credit and when you lose he gets too much of the blame. To answer your question, we’re going  with him. He’s not going to turn around and be a franchise guy overnight. That doesn’t happen often in this league. We’re going to work with him. He’s working hard to progress. We’re going to stick with him. I’m going to support him 110 percent and we’re going to get him better. The way we improve offensively is we make sure that, as he gets better, everyone gets better about him.

Q: What happened to Alan Branch the last eight months to go from an extension to being arrested and cut?

A: The same thing. It’s really performance. You guys watch the film and the players were released. You have to perform in this league and he didn’t perform well. Obviously, it was a poor decision, but basically it was the performance because we really didn’t play him much in the first two or three preseason games.

Q: Was he probably on the way out regardless of the arrest?

A: I would say it’s fair to say that that’s not the only factor. A lot of things factor into decision, don’t get me wrong, but that main factor was performance. Not even close. Of all the players, we wished him well. Hopefully it changes for him, but at the end of the day, the decisions for players not to be here are based on them not being able to help us win. And there are a lot of different reasons for that.

Q: Will Leodis still be your punt returner this year?

A: We’re planning on that and we’ll see what happens.

Q: Was the release of Dustin Hopkins also performance related?

A: It was performance. We’re trying to make sure that we have a guy as a kickoff guy. That hasn’t changed.

Q: Is it possible you’ll bring in somebody to fill that kickoff specialist role?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: Given that Brian Moorman shanked a few pants on Saturday, are you looking to bring in a punter?

A: Yeah. I’m not saying that Brian is going out there and playing for his job, but I think that it’s the same thing. Not unlike anyone else on the team, we have to make sure that we feel comfortable with their performance and that they’re able to do it moving forward. If not, is there somebody on the roster that’s better or we have to go out and upgrade it.

Q: Given your history with him, was it hard to part with Macky MacPherson?

A: Yep. That was probably one of the toughest ones I’ve been through, outside of my own personal appearance.

Q: Will there be a chance that he returns to the practice squad?

A: I don’t know where we are on that. We’re trying to first get the 53 right before we go ahead and look at the 10. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve discussed some of the 10, but we’re not at that level yet where we’re discussing that particular position.

Q: Would you like to know where you are with [Marcell] Dareus’ potential suspension pretty soon?

A: It’s really up and down. You don’t really know. I try to just keep going forward and planning on today and then when they tell us, make that move. We’re ready to go with anyone, if you take out the suspension and someone gets hurt. If someone twist their ankle, if someone gets hurt then we know exactly where we want to go once we get down to the 53. That would be the same type of thing in my mind, unless I knew for a fact that it’s coming.

Q: How encouraging was the performance of your rush defense on Saturday night?

A: They did a nice job. I thought a couple things. I thought Corbin Bryant probably played the best game of the year that he’s played. I really thought he played well. I thought Stefan Charles played better than he had been playing when he was in there.. I thought Brandon Spikes really showed up and made a lot of plays and made a big difference in the run game. I think Keith Rivers, from what I’ve watched of him on film, was more aggressive than I saw him when he played on other teams. Obviously, Nigel’s [Bradham] playing at a high level. We’re doing a very good job of that in defending the run. We’ve just got to work on it and we worked on it today. Some of the third and longer distances just making sure of our underneath coverage, that we’re not chasing routes, that we can keep everything in front of us and rally it through. I think, obviously, we’re much further ahead on that side of the ball than we are [on the offensive side]. We have a lot of good players on that side of the ball.

Q: Do you think this team is developing in terms of leadership?

A: I do. I do. I really do. I’ve seen more things that are good signs this year than I did when I first arrived. You’re seeing the players getting together, you see them holding each other more accountable and I think they realize that we’re closer than we were before. Some of the performances we’ve had we’re not happy with. We do have the ability to change it, but it’s a lot of attention to detail, it’s a lot of discipline, it’s a lot of structure. I think that we have more players that are starting to get it now than we did before.

Q: How tight is the competition for those final couple wide receiver spots?

A: It’s tight. It’s tight. I think Doug [Whaley] and I have had conversations of how it becomes how many do we want to keep. And that’s a big thing. Who deserves to make it? How many? Those are the conversations we’ve had. It’s kind of tough when you have another game to sit here and say, ‘Well, he’s good, he’s good.’ As you don’t really know because injuries can change what we do numbers-wise.

Q: How do you balance putting the last game behind you and still learning from it?

A: I think today we spent a big part of the day making the corrections. I think you make a mistake if you say, ‘Hey, let’s put it behind us and let’s move on.’ That’s a big mistake. I think later in the year, sometimes, you have the ability to do that, but that’s after 12-13 games and you’re getting ready for other things. Today we spent extra time watching the film, making sure that the corrections are there. We spent time today on the field going through corrections, things that have given us problems in the preseason. I told the players that in order to be the team that we want, when we make corrections we’ve got to be able to correct it and not have to keep going back and making the same corrections. It’s very difficult to move forward when you’re doing that.

Q: What did you make of Marquise Goodwin’s interaction with fans on Twitter following the game?

A: I think everyone has a responsibility as grown men of what they put out there and what they don’t put out there. I think you have to be careful and what you put out there you have to answer to, not just now but for your whole entire life it’s going to be there. That’s my message to players all the time. I tell them all the time, my biggest fear, and I’ll be honest with you, is when I come up here and I talk in front of everyone I constantly keep reminding myself that 20 years from now my son is going to look my name up and what is he going to see. That I was on a rampage or I disrespecting someone? That’s not the type of father I want to be or husband I want to be or role model I’d like to be. I think the biggest thing we can do as coaches is to keep educating.

WR Sammy Watkins

Monday, August 25, 2014

Q: How much did it hurt the offense that you couldn’t play with the first team for the last week?

A: I think it hurt us a lot. Me, EJ and the rest of the guys couldn’t go out there together. That’s why it’s important I practice and try to get back on the same page and work my way back into the offense. I think if I keep working and keep doing the things I’ve been doing in camp then I’ll succeed.

Q: Is it a good thing for you that Coach [Marrone] is playing some starters this week?

A: Yeah. If I play then I’m going to be out there with the guys giving 100 percent effort, making as many plays that are presented to me, blocking, and doing the things I need to do.

Q: Where are you health-wise?

A: I’m feeling alright. Injuries happen within the game. That’s something that you can’t shy away from or run away from. A lot of great guys have to play with injuries and nicks and bruises. That’s something I’ve got to get over and go out there and make plays.’

Q: Do you know for sure when you’re going to be playing on Thursday?

A: Whatever starters, whoever he picks, whether it’s me, EJ, it’s doesn’t matter. We’re going to go out there and perform. Whether I’m in there with the second team quarterback, the third string quarterback, I should be able to go out there and do my job and make as many plays as presented to me. I’m looking forward to playing. If I don’t play, that’s okay. In this matter, it’s up to the coach.

C Eric Wood

Monday, August 25, 2014

Q: Now that the offensive lines spots seem to be set, is it just a matter of getting comfortable?

A: Yeah, we’ve just got to get some reps with this group if this is what we’re going to roll with and make progress day-by-day and just keep getting better.

Q: How long do you want the first team to be out there for against Detroit?

A: That’s coach’s call. I can’t really comment on that. Whatever he feels is best we’re going to approach with a good attitude whether that’s play or don’t play. Quarter, series, whatever it may be we’re just going to take the approach of whatever he tells us to do, we’ll do it.

Q: As the leader of that line you don’t want to get back out there and see what you can do with the first team offense?

A: Yeah, I obviously want to. But, without talking to Coach, I don’t know what his feel is and we trust him.

Q: Any thoughts on the offensive struggles against Tampa Bay?

A: We just had individual breakdowns that we’ve got to correct and a lot of correctable things. We’ll get all those kinks worked out before Chicago.

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