Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Opening Statement: I’ll start out with injury updates: Reggie Ragland, Zay Jones will both be full participators in practice today; Sammy Watkins, individual drills only; Cordy. Glenn at this point is still week to week with the ankle; and Seantrel Henderson will be out today dealing with a cyst in a sensitive area on the backside, he’s day to day at this point; and then John Miller will be limited today. Just a quick note on the Jeremy Maclin visit yesterday: we had a nice visit. Jeremy and I, as well as some other members of our staff, overlapped in Philadelphia for a couple of years there. Jeremy’s a very good person and a good football player and really, that’s all I’m going to say at this point. Really don’t want to get into the other parts of it, just want to keep that between us and the player at this point. With that I’ll turn over to any questions.

Q: Coach, what do you hope to accomplish by the end of OTA’s tomorrow to hit the ground running with the mandatory minicamp? Do you have a specific kind of big picture, we need to be in a certain spot by the end of tomorrow?
A: There is a big picture. There is a vision that I want it to look, that we want it to look like as we progress every practice. I would say that there’s a potential sticking point we have to be by, at this point, by the end of the day tomorrow. What I would say is we have to continue to improve. We do that through the focus of the process, the work we put in, and the work’s been phenomenal. The players, first of all, just participation alone, has been phenomenal. In terms of attendance, that’s hard to come by [at] this time, around the league, this time of year. Credit to the players, credit to the staff on that, but the vision is to continue to improve and focus on us.

Q: Sean, you noted that Sammy Watkins is going to take part in individual drills only. Has he been doing this all week? Is this a first, and is this an indication that he’s on track or maybe even ahead of schedule?
A: Tuesday. He started that Tuesday, and with the individual drills only, and he’s done a nice job. Credit to Sammy, credit to our training staff and the way he’s attacked the rehab with them. That has to continue, though. This is one step in that process of getting Sammy back to where he needs to be and where we need him to be.

Q: When is your anticipation that he [Sammy] will take that next step whether it be next week or the start of training camp, as far as full participation?
A: It’s one day at a time at this point, it really is, it’s one rep at a time, one day at a time, and we’ll just take it like that. And he’s going to – we’re going to get him in the summer, and then, we’ve got a plan in place or we’ll have a plan in place in terms of what’ll take place between now and the time he reports back to training camp, just like we’ll do with all the players.

Q: Sean, general question regarding free agent visits, or free agent pursuits – you said more than once, and so has Brandon [Beane], that the idea is long term vision and building. How much does that still apply when a guy like a ‘[Jeremy] Maclin’ is in the market or ‘[Eric] Decker’, these guys that are accomplished players – and then presumably from cheaply and your kicking the tires at least, what does that say in terms of how you’re approaching players?
A: I think it speaks to that, it really does. And when we talk about short and long term, this is a good person, number one, and a good football player that at any point – whether it’s a guy we’ve had experience with, in this case Jeremy, or any other player, we’re always going to look to add to this football team; Guys that have the character we’re looking for, the types of skill we’re looking for, the D.N.A. – call it what you want to call it – we’re always looking to add competition at every part of this roster. This is no different, in that situation.

Q: Is there any delicate balance or dance with the idea that you’ve got to be conscious of how you spend your money and age of these players and again, the future versus immediate?
A: There is. There’s great consideration given. We’ve given great consideration like we do. You’ve heard me use the term multiple times, methodical and thorough and it’s no different in this case. There’s no knee jerk reactions. Those are not healthy over time. Usually those put you in a bad position as an organization. In this case, it’s very methodical. It’s not emotional. It’s driven by the short and long term goals and vision of this organization.

Q: How did you feel about [LeSean McCoy] and [Tyrod Taylor] sort of publicly recruiting [Jeremy Maclin] and did that put any pressure on you and [Brandon Beane] to get him in here?
A: We don’t look at it that way. I appreciate the fact that those guys know and respect [Jeremy Maclin] in this case. [LeSean McCoy] invited me to go to the game the other night. I was waiting with my bags out front but he never showed up for the game. Anyway, that’s a healthy dynamic that we have with a lot of our players. They’ve got to know that they have a voice too and there’s ownership. I respect that and that’s healthy. That said, we’ve got to do what we feel is in the best interest of this team.

Q: Did what [LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor] had to say lead you guys to bring him in?
A: We’re always going to listen. I would like to believe the good Lord gave me two ears and one mouth, so I would like to think I’m a good listener. That said, like I said before, we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of this football team. Sometimes those decisions are going to be agreed with and sometimes they’re not. Leadership at times is lonely and I’m ok with that.

Q: Would you prefer not to hear [LeSean McCoy] tell everyone in a video the expectation that [Jeremy Maclin] is a 1,300-1,400-yard receiver with 90-100 catches? It’s still a negotiation and that doesn’t seem to help the Bills’ bargaining position very much.
A: Yeah, you know, the times have changed – 20 years in the league and times have changed. My job has changed, [the media’s] job has changed. We do what we can to bring good players on board so we will see where this goes.

Q: You’ve had Gerald Hodges here for a little bit. What are your initial impressions and how many positions is he being asked to learn?
A: [Gerald Hodges] has done a great job, he really has. He’s a veteran player that has skins on the wall in terms of the amount of time he’s played in the league. He’s got a number of starts. He’s done a nice job. We are really impressed with the way he’s adjusted schematically in just a couple of practices. Last week, he took it upon himself to learn the system and came in this week and showed us that he studied last week when he wasn’t in the building. That’s been a good start.

Q: What was the reason to release Kolby Listenbee at this point in time?
A: We just felt for us, we are looking to build this roster. You know [Kolby Listenbee] is a good player and a good person. You’ve heard me say this before, it’s a tough part of the job. For us, it was just about us going in a different direction at this point.

Q: Sean, did you have any conversations with Andy Reid about Jeremy Maclin? Because it’s a little surprising that he kind of –
A: We’ve had some communication with Andy – with Coach Reid – and those conversations will stay between he and I at this point.

Q: You didn’t want to drive to Chicago to pick up Shareece [Wright]?
A: [laughs] Yeah, what a story. That, to me, speaks to the beginning signs of building a football team – building a team. When you’ve got an individual, in this case, that takes it upon himself to go through any means necessary to be here for meetings and practice. That’s – I love that. I don’t love the fact that whatever amount was paid for that [was paid], but that’s between him and Uber at this point. I know that Uber – we’ve got that partnership moving forward which I’m sure everyone’s excited about, but I just love the story. We all should. That’s what building a team is all about, is what guys do because they love one another, right? At the end of the day, he knows that he’s accountable to his teammates and he knows he needs to be here and, to me, that action spoke volumes about who he is and who we are.

Q: How did he look in practice that day?
A: He looked fine, yeah.

Q: When did Zay Jones return and how has he looked since he’s been back?
A: Yeah, Zay has gotten back on the field this week for us and each day he’s done a little bit more and so today, it’ll be full participation. He’s done a nice job and again, for a young player to go through what he went through in his first couple of days, the way he handled it mentally I thought was phenomenal. Yes, he was disappointed, more so disappointed in letting – he felt, from an accountability standpoint – his teammates [down]. That was hard on him, but credit to him. He got himself right mentally and then got himself right, now, physically with the work he put in.

Q: Though you’d prefer to have Zay and Sammy on the field at this point together through OTA’s, are you encouraged at the fact that you should be able to see them at least by the start of training camp and you’ll get a feel for what your offense will look like as a whole as you project it?
A: I think I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d love to see them now, together. That said, things takes time and so this is not the time to rush that process so I want to make sure that they’re both in a good place – mentally, physically and spiritually – then we get them on the field at the same time and we go from there.

Q: How do you envision the linebackers lining up now that Reggie Ragland is healthy?
A: Are you saying specific to names? Or –

Q: Yeah, like how will things shake out with Reggie [Ragland], Gerald [Hodges] and Preston [Brown]?
A: Right now, Reggie, Gerald and Preston are all working inside. Gerald is working a little bit outside as well, so over time, we’ll know. That’ll work itself out. Competition is good and healthy for all of us.

Q: How much do you envision Preston and Reggie getting time outside as well?
A: Not as much right now. They’re our middle linebacker position – our Mike linebacker position. At the end of the day, we’re going to play the best players. The best eleven will play and if that means that one of them moves, then that’ll work itself out over time.

DT Marcell Dareus
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Q: What’s life been like with Mike Waufle?
A: It’s been challenging. Dealing with an ex-marine, he’s not playing any games or cutting any corners. But it’s well-deserved; we need it, we are trying to be the best we can possibly be. He’s a hell of a coach and we are excited to have him.

Q: Overall, with a changing coach, give us your take on Sean McDermott’s program and how different it is from maybe anything else you’ve been a part of.
A: I mean, the structure alone is pretty detailed. I don’t want to say that he’s a micro-manager but he makes sure that we are very sharp on what we are doing. They are really on us and they are paying a lot of attention to a lot of small details and making sure we are doing the right things. I’m happy for him to be in and just really excited to see what we can do.

Q: Does it fit you? In some ways, you seem like a guy who wants to do things more your way. Do you feel like this is uncomfortable?
A: Honestly, I wouldn’t know until we get some toys on to go play. Until we get some pads, the helmet, then once the ball gets turned over….This is all fun, we are getting the fundamentals down. That’s cool with me. Once we start making some noise out there, that’s when we will figure out what we are doing.

Q: How happy or excited are you to have [Kyle Williams] back? I know there were some questions about whether or not he was going to be back.
A: That is a great weight lifted off my shoulders. To play with a guy like that, words can’t express how I feel for him just coming back and playing with us again. He doesn’t have to do it but he loves the Buffalo Bills, he’s doing it for the team and he wants to see us get across that threshold. I’m just happy for him to come back and I’m just excited.

Q: How about the system itself? That’s a change from the defensive system from what you were in. If you could talk specifically about your role and what you were in and how you feel about it, one way or the other.
A: Realistically, I really can’t say until we get to camp and get some pads on. Right now, we are just going over a real basic, vanilla form of our playbook, so we can get communication down. I’m just really excited for camp so we can really see what we’ve got going on. It’ll be a better understanding of what I will be doing.

WR Zay Jones
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Q: How did your knee feel coming back to practice and how badly were you hurting?
A: It didn’t hurt too badly. I’m just being smart. You know, it’s OTAs so I’m just trying to protect my body. I’m just trying to keep me safe. It felt great today, though. I felt like I was back to my normal self and I enjoyed it today.

Q: What do you have to do when you kind of come in and you have a plan of how you want things to work out, but you have a setback like that? As your first setback as a pro, what do you have to do mentally?
A: You know, that’s football. It’s also the people around you, the guidance that I’ve had with my coaches, the training staff, just being smart and taking extra precaution. Things happen all the time. You know, it could happen to me or anyone. So I’m just being smart with where we are in the season right now and moving forward.

Q: Zay, it’s said that players – rookies – need as much time as possible to develop and any lost time can be a problem. Do you feel that that was any sort of setback for you?
A: No. I think it’s benefitted me with the system and learning the plays and just studying my mental game more. Just being in the film room more, just being able to process everything from the meeting room and now having it translated on to the field. I feel like whether you’re hurt or whether you’re out there, you’ve just got to constantly learn.

Q: When you see a guy like Jeremy Maclin make a visit and he’s a veteran and that’s your position, what goes through your head?
A: I was excited. I think that having the caliber of player like him coming to here, whether he chooses us or goes somewhere else, we’re just going to be great. I was excited. I thought he was already here. He’s a great person and a great player. I talked to him for a little bit. To learn from him and [Sammy Watkins], would be a dream come true for me. We’re here to win, everybody is here to win. The Super bowl is the ultimate goal. A playoff run is the ultimate goal, so however we can get that done, I’m all in.

Q: It is still competitive though, as you said, you want veterans to learn from. But you also want to start…so how does that factor in to the thinking of them looking at outside receivers?
A: Of course. I feel like with all the receivers that we have in our room, we are natural competitors. I’m a competitor myself. Everybody wants to be great, everybody deems themselves as that number one receiver and you have to have that mindset. You can’t be worried about what somebody else is doing. All you can worry about is your job, what the coaches ask of you and go out and do the best of your ability and whatever happens, happens after that. Whether [Jeremy Maclin] ends up here, or wherever he is, I wish him the best of luck and if he is here, that’s just all the better for us.

LB Reggie Ragland
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Q: How’d it feel to you? Rep plays, live, instead of watching them on film and taking mental reps?
A: It’s a big difference from being out there and then watching on the sideline. When you’re out there, everything is moving so fast, and you got to get used to everybody slowing down. But it felt real good just to get back out there after like nine or ten months of just sitting and watching. So, it felt real good.

Q: Did the instincts just kind of naturally kick back in, just in terms of reading things and keys?
A: It took me a couple series to get that down, but once it started coming down, I started filling up the gaps and the holes, and dropping to my coverage a little bit. So, it felt real good.

Q: Having been sidelined so long, I know it’s not even close to a real thing yet, but do you still get an adrenaline boost being out there?
A: Always, any time you got a 300 and something pound man running after you, you’ll always get a little adrenaline rush. But for the most part, it felt good just getting hands on those guys, and just get guys up off of you, work on your techniques, and getting my techniques back [to normal].

Q: Knowing how much you love this game, and having it taken away from you, for as many months as you had to be away, is there a different perspective as you step back out here today?
A: Taking nothing for granted. Coming out of the combine last year, I was on a high – being predicted real high, first-rounder, and then being a second-rounder. But it’s all a blessing just to get drafted in its own, but now I’m just out there having fun, and just taking it day by day.

Q: In that sense, in like maybe six weeks, you’ll be stepping back on to the St. John Fisher campus – what might be your thoughts in going back to the place where “that” happened?
A: Don’t worry about it, my knee is fine. Don’t think about it, just go out there and do what I do, and do what got me here, just play football, just be myself.

DB Shareece Wright
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Q: Sounds like you had a little Uber ride there, huh?
A: A little. A long Uber ride. Yeah, I mean, I wasn’t expecting all of this but I was just trying to make it here. I was just trying to put my best effort to being here and making it to practice on Monday. I had flight problems leaving for California out of here so I had a little worries about the airlines. I was like, ‘let me make sure I just give myself some time,’ so I changed my flight to an earlier flight on Sunday and it was a connecting flight, and it got in late. In O’Hare [International Airport], I’m running through O’Hare trying to make it to my layover [and I] didn’t make it. So I start thinking on my feet right away, trying to figure out how I can make it. I called an ex-teammate who lives in Chicago, he’s out watching the Warriors game and he was like ‘I can’t drive you.’ I was like, ‘dude, I’ll pay you like a thousand bucks.’ He said ‘I can’t do it.’ I called Uber, two Ubers cancelled, and on the third one I was like ‘I’m not even going to let him cancel. I’m going to call him and explain to him the situation.’ I called him, explained the situation to him, and he was like ‘Yo, I’ll take you wherever you want to go,’ and I’m like, ‘you sure? We’re going to Buffalo, New York. It’s like eight hours – it’s far.’ And he’s like ‘oh, no, no. I’ll take you wherever you want to go.’ I’m like, ‘thank you man, I appreciate it. I really do.’ So he picked me up and I was just telling him that I’ve got to be there by seven o’clock. He was like, ‘we might not make it, but I’m going to do my best. I’m going to get you there safe and do my best. I might have to stop one time for gas, is that cool?’ I’m like, ‘man, do whatever you got to do – just get me there, safely.’ We got to talking in the car, he told me his story of how he got to the United States, got to Chicago, what happened to his family, he’s trying to go to college and be an astronaut, how he had to learn English on his own and all that stuff. For me, it was just like, man. For you to come over here and do this and go to college, it says a lot about your character and who you are as a person and he was just willing to do whatever it takes to take care of himself. He’s all he has out here and he’s like ‘I can’t depend on no one else if I don’t do what I got to do to take care of myself. It’s all bad for me,’ and I’m like, ‘wow, that’s incredible,’ you know what I mean? We got to talking, and the next think you know, he had me here at 6:58 and the [estimated time of arrival] was like 7:30. I’m like, ‘I’m going to need you to spare me 35 minutes if you could, but safely. He was just like ‘I’m going to do my best,’ and he got me here at 6:58 and I made it on time.

Q: How did you feel at practice?
A: It was good, because I was able to sleep [in the car]. I figured if I was to drive myself, I probably wouldn’t have had a good day. That’s 24 hours of being up and then coming out, trying to practice at a high level. So that’s why driving wasn’t really an option. I’m by myself, who knows what could happen. It just wasn’t safe for me. I had a pretty solid day. I got some rest in the car. It was rough, just trying to sleep with somebody else driving and you hear that ‘doo-doo-doo-doo’ and you wake up like ‘alright, everything cool.’ You don’t want to end up on the side of the road, especially since it’s at night. Thank God that I made it here safe and made it on time.

Q: What kind of car was it? Was it comfortable?
A: It was a Nissan Altima. It was nice, so I had the backseat to myself.

Q: Your driver told the Washington Post that he thought you were going to Buffalo Wild Wings.
A: Yeah. Yeah, and I had to explain to him like, ‘it’s Buffalo, New York.’ He was kind of like ‘ah, ah, ah, yeah’ and he accepted it and he said ‘I’ll take you wherever you want to go.’ Thank God for him. As I said, two Uber’s cancelled before that and just like, ‘man, hopefully this guy [doesn’t].’

Q: Did you feel kind of crazy asking him?
A: Yeah. I mean, I did, honestly. That’s why I had to call him and just explain to him [that] I play for the Buffalo Bills, I got a meeting at seven in the morning, I was like, ‘I’ll give you extra money on top of the Uber ride, whatever I can to help you if you can do that for me, I really would appreciate it.’ He kept me calm and I was a little nervous like, ‘man, I think I won’t make it.’ I’m like calling my mom and talking to her, and I had just talked to my family about making it on time and making sure I get there, so I booked an earlier flight instead of taking a later flight. He’s just like, he kept me calm – he’s like, ‘man, don’t worry. We’re going to make it no matter [what], we’re going to get there. We might be two minutes, three minutes late, but we’ll make it,’ and he did. He got me there safe.

Q: Somewhere, somehow, he made up a half hour, you said?
A: Somewhere, somehow, man. Maybe it was traffic that was – I mean, it was [estimated time of arrival] so it’s one of those things where – and I was asleep for the last four hours. I woke up with like twenty minutes left and he was like ‘we’re twenty minutes away’ and I was like ‘we’re going to make it on time.’

Q: Is this a new friend you’ve got now?
A: It definitely is. Definitely. I talked to him yesterday, [and] he texted me last night like, ‘man, the media’s crazy,’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, it can be.’ I mean, we weren’t expecting for this to happen. But like I said, when I heard his story, it was incredible in itself. Who he is as a person and for him to accept that ride, I mean, he did have to drive back eight hours by himself. That’s pretty incredible for him. He’s a warrior.

Q: First thing Coach told you when you told him how you got here?
A: I mean, I had called Coach [Gill] Byrd to let him know but I wasn’t able to contact him and then I woke up, I tried calling him back but my phone died. I was like, ‘hello?’ and my phone turned off, so he was a little worried. He sees me in the meeting, and he was like ‘you alright?’ I was like, ‘yeah, Coach. I was just calling you to give you a heads up I might be a little late. I had to take an Uber here from Chicago,’ and he looked at me like I was crazy. I’m like, ‘yeah.’ He’s like, ‘from Chicago, you took an Uber?’ We got to talking a little bit, and he was like ‘would you mind sharing that with your teammates? That’s incredible. That’s Playoff Caliber.’ And I told my teammates about it, so he was pretty surprised. I mean, I just did whatever I could to make it here. It means a lot to me to be here with my teammates and that’s what we preach every day, is just putting our best effort forward to being the best we can.

Q: Coach McDermott told us a lot of great things about you. For going through this, has he spoken to you at all about the dedication and going through all that?
A: I mean, he talked to me. He just told me, ‘that’s Playoff Caliber. That’s what we need around here.’ He told me a little bit of that yesterday, he told me he might be able to cover the Uber ride for me, and I told him that would be nice. He just told me, ‘that’s Playoff Caliber, and that’s what we need.’ For me, that’s what it was. I’m a veteran, this is year seven for me and I’m here to be a great example for these younger guys under me and show them the way. Show them that you have to make this a priority. Right now is important for September and October and November. These times right now, these times that we’re building on the field? It’s very important for us as a team just to build that camaraderie and for me to be here and just get better practicing.

Q: You kind of reset the bar for being late to meetings, didn’t you?
A: Oh, yeah. I mean, stuff happens and we all know that but if you can make it, you just got to do it.

Q: Did you offer to drive at all?
A: No, I did not. I did not offer to drive. I probably should’ve, but –

Q: Has Uber reached out and tried to make you a spokesperson yet?
A: No, they have not. Which, we’re surprised that Uber didn’t really jump on it. But, yeah, they haven’t done that yet.

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