Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Opening Statement: Just a couple things, real quick, as we get started: injury updates. John Miller, ankle sprain yesterday, he’s day-to-day; Michael Ola, knee, also listed as day-to-day; and then [as] many of you know, Zay [Jones], with a knee sprain, he’s progressing well and is listed as week-to-week. As we go forward, I really want to get these names down. I’m working on it, so if you could just give me your name after your question or before your question so that way we can move forward and I’m going to work on it. Can’t promise anything, but I’m working on it. So go ahead, fire away.

Q: Vic Carucci, Buffalo News – Rod Streater, was that any indication that Zay – what’s the timing in your mind of Zay –
A: Yeah, that was not in any way correlated with Zay. It was just more – we want to get to a certain number for training camp and I thought Streater did – we think he did a good job at the workout. Also, just creating competition on our roster as I’ve said before, Vic. We’re going to try and continue to do that at every position.

Q: Jerry Sullivan from the Buffalo News, a very positive person – this team was known the past couple of years for being a little loosey-goosey on the field and had a lot of misconduct penalties [and] that sort of thing. Have you addressed the team about that and where are you, generally, about that? I would imagine you wouldn’t tolerate that here.
A: We believe in not beating ourselves and I don’t know what went on, other than what I observed on tape, before I got here and I’m not really concerned about that. What I’m concerned about, honestly, is what happens now, moving forward. I know this: I know that the margin of winning in the NFL is so small that you can’t beat yourself, and that speaks to pre-snap penalties, post-snap penalties, discipline, accountability – all those things that you’re probably referencing, Jerry. We spent a lot of time emphasizing that through different avenues when we teach.

Q: Jon Scott from Spectrum News – can you take us through the decision to cut ties with Cyrus Kouandjio?
A: As you guys have heard me say before, really, the challenging part of this business – there are relationships that we’ve all made since we’ve been here and that’s the tough part of the business, is to move on. I had a very good conversation yesterday with Brandon [Beane], Cyrus and myself. It was a healthy conversation, it really was. Cyrus is a pro. We felt like it was the right thing to do at this time for us, and also the right thing to do at this time for Cyrus in the hopes that he would be able to get on with another club. We honestly wish him all the best – him and his family.

Q: Matt Fairburn from Syracuse.com – With Cyrus, how much of that was – I know he has struggled with his knees basically since he’s gotten into the league. How much of that was maybe what happened last month with what happened off the field?
A: Yeah, again, Cyrus and I had a good conversation yesterday morning and I’m going to keep that conversation between Cyrus, Brandon and myself. Again, for us and for Cyrus, we felt like this was the right time.

Q: Jenna Cottrell, ABC Rochester – I know it’s still very early in OTA’s, but now that you have all of the pieces kind of in place, how do you see this team progress?
A: I believe that we made a lot of strides and the credit goes to the players and the coaches and really everybody here at [the] ADPRO Training Facility. This is a team effort. It’s been that way since day one. It will continue to be that way. When you go through different parts of the building and you see the visions show up, whether it’s in Marketing or in [Public Relations] or whatever it is – we’re improving in every part of what we do, not just the football part. I’m encouraged by that. I’ve seen it on a daily basis, I’ve seen it on the field, [which] is what you’re asking about. The players are working extremely hard. Yesterday, we had a red zone period and I thought the offense was very sharp in the red zone and challenging the defense. And then we kicked field goals the day previous, and we came out and Austin [Rehkow] nailed three 42-yard field goals in a row as a rookie. That’s hard to do. We are sharpening our game, we’re raising our game on a daily basis, and that said, we have a long way to go and we’ve got to stay with the foot on our gas pedal in every area.

Q: Mike Rodak, ESPN – you signed another tight end yesterday in Wes Saxton. Charles Clay was not out there last week when we were out there. How much concern is there about the knee, if that’s the issue for him, just pertaining that through training camp?
A: Yeah, again, similar to the question with respect to Zay and the signing of another wide receiver – really, separate conversations. [We] felt like Wes would help us, and again – increasing the competition at the tight end position, specifically. We are concerned with Charles’s knee situation, it’s something we have to manage moving forward in order to have him on the field for us, which is important moving forward. He’s a weapon for us.

Q: How much of the OTA’s has he participated in so far?
A: He’s participated in most all of it. He really has. That said, just like with all of our players, we have to put them in position to be successful – Charles, no different. If managing his reps – if that’s what we have to do, then we’ll continue to do that.

Q: Sean, the league has now relaxed the player celebrations. How does that land with you and in general, what are your thoughts about player’s celebrations?
A: Well, we’re always going to – number one, I believe in celebrating with teammates. I like the fact that guys have a chance to express themselves but we’re so much, right now, [more] focused on what it takes to score touchdowns and prevent touchdowns that that’s really been our focus and will continue to be our focus. I want it to be a healthy dynamic and where it becomes unhealthy is when you affect the team.

Q: You had a couple visits from linebackers in free agency here. Where do you see that position standing and how did those meetings go?
A: Those were good workouts; had some good conversations. When we look at Gerald Hodges, right now he’s en route back to Buffalo. There’s a good chance he signs at this point and we’ll see how he finishes up. Again, just another opportunity for us to add competition to the roster in a player that’s been out there with skins on the wall.

Q: Do you think that, bringing a guy in this early, he’s got a chance to jump right in and start for you and at least add some competition?
A: Right. At a minimum, we’re looking to add competition and then from there, everyone has to earn the right to, whether it’s start, as you mentioned, or whatever it is. Nothing’s promised. That goes for this situation or any situation. You guys have heard me say that before. I like to be consistent on things.

Q: You’ve obviously sat down and talked the roster over with Brandon before after working together with him in Carolina, but now in a head coach’s seat with him here in Buffalo along with increasing the staff – I’m just curious about the meetings. I’m sure they’re daily, but how has that process gone here in terms of talking roster and roster shaping?
A: So, one of our first meetings this Monday morning started with him beating me 3-1 in racquetball on the racquetball court at 6:00 Monday morning. So we got off to a, what he would consider a good start and what I would consider a rocky start in our relationship. No, but they’ve been healthy. They’ve been productive. The neat part about it is, really, we’re aligned philosophically, as I’ve said before, on how we want this to look and Brandon continues to put together his staff and I’ve been impressed with the caliber of the staff that he’s been able to put together at this point. Very impressed. Those will continue, our days will continue to go forward, and we’ll continue to get some things looking like the way we know we want them to look throughout the building.

Q: I’m sorry, just to follow up – how’re you blending in with guys like Joe [Schoen] and Brian [Gaine]?
Yeah, I mean, again, this all falls under the category of philosophy. And, obviously Brandon and I lead that and set the philosophy on a day to day basis here. And then, you know, we’re open minded though; Having said that to ideas from our staff. And it’s been interesting to hear that different kind of, best practices, if you will, that Joe’s able to share with us or Brian’s able to share with us as we sit around my office and talk about whether it’s our roster, or how we want to build the roster. Just, the day to day operation is really exciting, you know, because you’re talking about some dynamic minds that have great experience, and no different with the coaches and the coaching staff; How we, it’s a melting pot really, of guys from different successful operations and that’s been fun to be around. I know it’s made me better and kind of that growth mindset.

Q: Hey Sean, you mentioned building a roster there, in your mind, how long do you think that process should take? I mean, you know, you can’t make every move that you maybe want to make in one offseason. But you guys have made significant progress, it seems. But how long do you think a process like that takes?
Well, I don’t know that if you’re ever finished, right, it’s never a finished product. That said, it takes time. And, you know, you look at all the different aspects of building a roster, it’s not just the guys that are on the team; You have to look at draft picks, and you know, what draft picks we have for next year, do we have all of them, are we one short, or how that looks, and then, salary cap, and so there’s a lot of facets of building a football team that can not only be successful, but also sustain success. So that’s a constant conversation that happens daily. As was asked earlier, Brandon and I, and Joe were sitting in my office last night talking about what’s next? Just trying to find what I like to term as ‘six inches’, about anyway we can improve; Either what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, or the roster in this case to your question.

Q: How much would you say your decisions that you’ve made, since you know, becoming head coach have been focused on the immediate, which would be next season, versus that long term?
I would say it’s 50/50, you know, there’s short term decisions and there’s long term decisions. And, you know, from a leadership standpoint, I know Brandon and I make decisions with that mind all the time. There’s always a pressure from a coach’s standpoint, I think most of the coaches out there would feel the pressure to get the here, and you know, the immediate fix. And sometimes that’s a band-aid, and I’m not in to, I’m not really into that approach. I’m in to what’s best for this organization, yes both in the short and long term, but I’m into, you know, sustaining that success for many years to come as well for this, for this city and these fans.

Q: Sean, Sal Capaccio, WGR – two questions for you: first of all, did you throw a strike at the Bisons’ game?
I heard it was a little high, although, what I said was I was really pitching to, to Kareem (Abdul-Jabaar). I was up there pitching to Kareem, a lot of people didn’t see that I guess, but maybe high. My strike zone is always a little higher than most, so, but, that was the best I could give at the time, so.

Q: I wasn’t there, my wife and son, my three-year old son was judging you, so he told me you threw out the first pitch.
A: Yeah, no I enjoyed, it, it was a fun, fun night for myself, my family and the staff got a chance to be there. I’m really appreciative of the Bisons and their entire, entire …. Over there.

Q: My question is about Marcell [Dareus], you know, given the issues that he’s gone through the last couple of years that we know about, and giving your philosophy on things and what you’re asking of, from your players, just kind of give us an update on what you see from him in the building, off the field, on the field, things like that, and his interactions with Mike Waufle as well.
A: Yeah, Coach Waufle’s done a phenomenal job as his coach…….. who also works for the defensive line. You know, I learn as much from them as hopefully they learn from me, and that dynamic and the time that Marcell is putting in, you know, I couldn’t be happier at this point in time. I really, I really believe that, he’s bought, bought in to what we’re doing and what Coach Waufle is doing on the defensive front. You know, that said, we have to continue to respect the process, and when you’re a pro that’s ongoing; You do it every day on a consistent basis over, over the course of time. So, that’s true of our entire team, myself included, so consistency is the key at this point.

Q: Do you see some of these defensive players feeling they have something to prove, because the perception is they underachieved under Rex [Ryan], and in some cases, the feeling is they’re not living up to their salary? Dareus and Jerry Hughes in particular.
You know, again, I don’t know what, what happened before I got here necessarily as it relates to that; I know what I see on a daily basis moving forward. And that’s, that’s a group of individuals that have bought in to what we’re selling, and philosophically, the defensive approach to football and how we’re going to expect to win games here in Buffalo. They’re playing and preparing extremely hard, and that’s really what I’m focused on right now.

Q: Sean, Josh Reed with the CBS station of Buffalo – the Nate Peterman signing, you’ve got the entire draft class locked up now, how much of an emphasis was that for you to bring in, to get those guys locked up?
Yeah that’s key, that is absolutely key and Jim Overdorf, Kevin Meganck have done a phenomenal job of getting those guys signed early in the process here. You know, when you talk about mindfulness and focus, and all those types of things, and if we can limit distractions, one of those being some of those contract things that sometimes linger, they did, Jim and Kevin did a phenomenal job, and credit to the players and their representors as well agreeing on terms. And so, we can focus on football now.

Q: Joe Buscaglia, from Channel 7 – we’ve seen, we’ve only seen a couple of practices, but Dion Dawkins hasn’t played anywhere except left tackle, and I would assume you drafted him to compete for the right tackle since you have Cordy [Glenn]. What’s the plan to kind of submerge him in the right tackle situation as we’re kind of going along here?
Yeah, you know, we’ll just, we’ll just see how that goes. I mean, obviously, he offers the flexibility, really he can move over and play right tackle, he can play left tackle, and so, you know, I like that versatility. I like his, his mindset at this point as a rookie to come in and go up against Jerry Hughes, just about every day. I think the competition has been phenomenal, Jerry’s teaching him, and he’s getting an education early from one of the top, top defensive ends in the league in terms of affecting the quarterback, so that’s been, that’s been a healthy competition and fun to watch.

Q: Speaking of left tackle, how is Cordy coming along with his injury?
Yeah Cordy, Cordy’s attacking the rehab. I mean, he’s working through that, through the ankle situation and – but he’s attacking the rehab head on and doing a nice job with it.

Q: Jon Scott from Spectrum News – what has stood out to you from Ronald Darby?
Well really you know, when I , when I evaluated Darby in college, I saw the ability, and then I watched his first year from a far, albeit, and the impact he had as a first year player, and then I watched him on tape last year once I got into the building. I’m really seeing a player that’s ready to get back to, to playing the way he did his first year; And really, taking his game to another level, and that’s, that deals with preparation, consistency, understanding the game a little bit more as you, as we all gain experience, with experience comes awareness. And so, and that’s really the next step for him. I love the way he’s taking, has taken a mindset, an approach, an attitude of buying into the system and what we’re asking our corners to do. The big part of that for us which I love, that I believe he inherently has, we believe he inherently has is the physical approach, that we ask our corners to tackle; And that goes a long way.

Q: Sean, Doug Whaley spoke for the first time since he was let go this week, and he said he left you with a parting gift in two first-round picks. What do you make of him kind of, I guess, taking credit for the trade there in the first round?
I appreciate that, we appreciate it, and you know, we are, we are going to use those to better this organization both in the short and long term as you’ve heard me say before. You know, that said right now, those two first-round picks aren’t, aren’t helping us right now. But again, it’s about, as the question was asked earlier, about the roster, that, that’s how we shaped this thing. And being stewards of, of this organization, and making sure we’re making sound decisions both in the short and long term. So, excited about that, though Doug did a phenomenal job with that, and you know, we’re going to always look to add and find the right pieces for us moving forward.

Q: Was, he said he left, you know, but did you, how can I, how involved were you specifically, and was it a shared decision? I mean, he basically took credit for leaving you the gift, how much did you have to do in getting your own gift?
No, it was a team effort, it really was. That’s just like the day I came in here, that’s what I’ve said since the beginning, this is a total team effort. And it’ll continue to be a team effort moving forward.

LB Preston Brown
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q: You’ve been talked about a lot this offseason with Reggie [Ragland] coming back, the team just signed Gerald Hodges – do you feel like you have something to prove, not only for this year but going forward in your career? You’re in a contract year.
A: Yeah, I mean I think every year you have something to prove. I think it’s just going to be a fun year for all of us. We’ve got a new coach, a new system – the best eleven is going to play so everybody is out here competing and trying to find a spot.

Q: You’ve been in this situation throughout your career, really, where you’ve been competing with guys for playing time and every year, you’ve sort of won out in those battles. Do you sort of take this competition with Reggie – if that’s what it ends up being – feeling confident in your chances that you’ll prevail the way you have before?
A: Yeah, I mean, it’s fun. I’ve been in competition since high school. With all the linebackers, not just Reggie but whoever it is, we’re all competing to play. I mean, we’re all trying to make the team better. The best three are going to play, [or] the best four or whoever is out there is going to play and have fun.

Q: Does that mean that you’re ready to adjust to maybe not playing in the middle to get time there maybe next to Reggie?
A: Whatever happens, happens. I really don’t have any preference or anything – I just want to play football. Whatever I can do to help the team, I’m going to do that.

Q: Is this scheme more – as far as your position, let’s say inside, [goes] – sideline-to-sideline, downhill, what are the differences that you’re being asked to do more in this scheme? Sean’s known to be a guy that requires a lot of athleticism and coverage out of the linebackers.
A: It’s fun. Everybody thinks you’ve got to be fast to cover, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I mean, a lot of fast guys overrun stuff, so you’ve got to study. I take a lot of time to study routes and them things to be better at pass coverage. I think we all can do better at pass coverage as a better unit to get more turnovers to help the team.

Q: Do you think you’ll be asked to do that a lot more this year in this scheme, though?
A: I’m not sure. I did a lot of man-to-man all year, which means I was just running around chasing people so I’m not sure how much man-to-man we can do so we’ll see what happens.

CB Ronald Darby
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q: With the departure of Stephon (Gilmore), do you assume the role as the number one guy? Is that the way you’re looking at things?
A: You know, I feel like a veteran in the secondary. We got a lot of new guys and young guys, so I feel like it’s, I have a huge role here. So I do feel like, you know, like a vet now, a vet vet.

Q: What’s your relationship with [Tre’Davious White] been like?
It’s been good, he came in ready to work; Smart, driven, and [likes to] work hard. Like he’s a great person overall.

Q: What’re you doing to try to get back to the way you were you rookie year as opposed to last year?
Make sure I work on my hands, like last year I dropped about four or five picks, so you know, my season wouldn’t have been that horrible if I caught those. Like, I just got to work on my hands, and that’s something I’ve been stressing.

Q: How big of a difference have you seen from last year to this year in terms of scheme, and then getting used to the McDermott’s systems?
A: A huge difference, you know, we not in cover one every play, like, you know, we could mix it up a lot. You know – a lot of different coverages to help you keep your eyes on the quarterback to make plays on the ball.

Q: Who’s kind of the captain out there defensively?
We got a few, of course you know [Lorenzo Alexander], Kyle [Williams], Jerry [Hughes], you know, Preston [Brown], even like the new, you know, new guys, [Micah] Hyde, [Jordan] Poyer, they all took that tole as well. And me, you know, I’m more of the energetic guy, get everybody lifted up.

RB LeSean McCoy
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q: Tell us about the softball game?
A: Let’s talk about that; so this is my fourth – This is my fourth annual celebrity softball game, you know, I do it for ALS. My grandmother passed away a couple years ago from ALS, so this is something me and my foundation, that we do to kind of raise money to make awareness, and a majority of the proceeds, you know, they go to ALS association – so that’s something we do. June 4th, the game starts at 2 o’clock, for any more details or questions, go to redwingsbaseball.com. I really appreciate it if you guys pump this, you know, we get a nice showing. There will be tons of Buffalo fans, there will be tons of Buffalo players, all my teammates coming out to support me, and it’d mean a lot to me if you guys do too, so, thank you!

Q: Are you a pull-hitter?
A: Yeah, I mean, I do it all! Football is just like, one of my small, you know, gigs.

Q: LeSean, the baseball game is in Rochester, how important is it for you to get out, and see fans that you might not necessarily see on a daily basis because they aren’t in Buffalo?
A: Yeah, well one thing is in camp, my first year here, I just, kind of seen and gravitate to the fans, out there in Rochester. They support us, you know they only see us once a year really due to camp. And then, obviously coming out to Buffalo – the fans here are tremendous. And they work well with us, as far as working the different details and deals out; Kind of giving us what we want, and it made sense. So just getting back to those fans and the support over there, who only get to see us once a year.

Q: You were joking that nobody’s covering you in the slot, it’s suffice to say you feel pretty fast here through the first couple of weeks of OTAs?
A: Well, it’s still early, so everybody’s just trying to be safe, I know I’m trying to be safe. Just learning the playbook, running plays – just work hard with your teammates, learn them a little bit – some of the rookies; You want to get to know them, and let you know, your type of personality, and what you expect from the hard work, and putting the preparation in for a long year. Even like new guys that came to the team from a different team, it’s always best to kind of get to know them. I think this is this period, this is what it’s for, kind of learning the plays and learning the personnel, and the new coaches. I mean, I’m lucky to have Sean McDermott, and knowing him from Philadelphia, but a lot of these guys haven’t – just getting different questions about him, so this period, this is what it’s used for.

Q: Late last year, you were one of the veteran players that were pretty vocal about player accountability, player-to-player accountability, how much will this staff aid in fostering more of that to kind of help support the veterans in the locker room?
A: Well you can tell that when they hired Sean, that’s probably one of the biggest things that they looked forward to when hiring a coach – the type of discipline, the accountability from the coaches and the players, so you could tell that was a big reason why they hired him. And I know him, so that’s one of the things he preaches to his players. He’s a guy that’s not about yelling too much – he’s strict and stern in what he wants – as a player you know that, you respect it, you want to play, you want to have a good, successful year, you want to do everything the coach asks. So, that’s one thing that he’s good on and he’s big on, so I was actually excited to know he got hired.

Q: What’s the biggest difference in the playbook that you’ve seen so far from the last two years to this year?
A: The running backs getting the ball in the passing game; That’s something I’ve been a part of, but it’s been a while since I’ve actually got the ball a lot in the air – we do a lot of that. [Rick Dennison] he’s big on that, you look at all the successful running backs that’s been in his offense, from Arian Foster who I’m a big fan of, he did it on the ground and in the air. Everything looks the same, actually talking to Sean about why he hired [Rick Dennison], the biggest thing is – he said that it’s harder to defend because everything looks the same, as a defense, they look for alignments, they look for different cheats, different formations, and everything looks the same in our offense and it’s hard, if it’s a pass or run, you can’t tell. Being a part of that, is special to me because you don’t know what it is, and then the ability to get the ball to you running backs in open field with routes against linebackers, it’s an easy win.

CB Tre’Davious White
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q: Mentally, how is it managing being a new father with football, just signing a contract – everything is going on in your life right now.
A: Everything hasn’t soaked in yet, man. First of all, being a dad is the best thing in the world. And then, just coming out here and being able to do what I love to do, it’s a blessing and I just – every day I wake up, I look at it that way. I look at it in that aspect – I come here every day with a positive attitude and ready to learn.

Q: Ronald Darby says he’s kind of been thrown into that role as the leader of the cornerbacks. How has he helped you through this transition early on?
A: As you could see, each and every play we come off the field, we’re talking. I want to know what he’s thinking, I want to know what his receivers have done to him, and he’s asking me questions and he just wants to see how I’m picking up the defense. Just coming from LSU, I pick up defenses quite well and I’ve been doing the same here. There are still some things I have to learn, but I feel like I’m progressing pretty good.

Q: He also said that he’s the second best dancer on the team behind [Walt] Powell. Would you agree with that assessment?
A: He really hasn’t danced a lot yet. But he hasn’t got his hands on the ball, but once he gets a pick, I feel like those dance moves are going to come out.

C Eric Wood
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q: End of a week of OTA’s, and a new beginning for you, of sorts. How does it feel to be back out there with your teammates?
A: It feels good. I’m coming back slowly but surely. [I’m] out here getting comfortable, it’s taking a little time off, but it feels good.

Q: How much of it is mental at this point and just getting over that mental hurdle?
A: Yeah, I’m healed at this point so there’s not a lot of risk in playing. I’ve just got to get back to where I’m playing at my self-expected level of play, but it’s coming along. The training staff did a nice job with me and I’m almost all the way back.

Q: Are you limited at all in what you do?
A: I’m not going every single day, but when I’m out there I’m not limited at all, if that makes sense.

Q: How much different is this offense terminology-wise?
A: It’s another new offense so a lot of new terminology. This offense has been around a while so it’s very familiar to the coaches. They’re not making up anything on the fly, but to us as players, it’s new to us but we spent a lot of time in the meeting room getting comfortable with it.

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