Head Coach Doug Marrone
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Q: Chris Williams left practice, any injury update on him?
A: He has a toe [injury].

Q: And Lee Smith was out of practice today too?
A: I didn’t hear any report on him.

Q: Scott Chandler, any update on when he will return?
A: When he gets cleared, they haven’t told me yet or given me a time frame.

Q: Gragg, do you think he’ll be able to go full go for you on Sunday?
A: I hope so. He did a good job today coming back.

Q: There are about 6 former Syracuse coaches in the Hall of Fame game, maybe a little extra drive for all of the Syracuse presence?
A: I always admire Coach Coughlin. He helped me out quite a bit when I was the head coach at Syracuse. We’ve always had a good relationship, and I think the common denominator is that we both went to school there, and we’re in this profession together. So, I have a lot of respect for him, I’ve always followed him, always admired the work that he’s done, and like I said before, we used to meet once a year, I’d go and talk to him and he helped me out quite a bit.

Q: How do you think Stephon Gilmore has looked through a couple weeks of camp now?
A: I think he’s looked very good. Last year, that injury, that was a tough thing to come back from. He’s come out and been like he was in the beginning of last year prod to the injury. He’s been playing real physical and he’ll get better and better each day.

Q: In what way did it take away from him most?
A: I think it took the most away from him in that you play this game with two hands, then that happens, you take one hand, tie it behind your back and still try to play. That would probably be the best way to describe how he had to play.

Q: How about CJ [Spiller], he’s another guy that had an injury situation last year that hampered him quite a bit, how has he looked in camp?
A: He doesn’t look hampered now, he looks more explosive than he did during the season last year. We just have to do a good job in the preseason with the amount of carries we give him and how much work he needs to get to get ready for the season.

Q: Chris Hogan said he has benefited a strong offseason of work, what do you think has made that work for him?
A: I just think having an opportunity and taking advantage of it. I don’t think anyone here would have argued that Chris wasn’t a hard worker. He’s reliable, last year he showed us that and on third down our quarterback had confidence in him to go to him when he was out there in the slot. He’s strong, he’s a big strong player, he’s been playing well, and he’s made some good moves this week.

Q: Do you have an idea for the number of series for the starters this weekend?
A: No, we’re going to wait to discuss that until after tomorrow night’s practice so we know who’s available and who’s not, things like that.

Q: Expectations pretty much the same going into the first preseason game?
A: The expectation is that we’re going to play the game to win.

Q: Your thoughts on Erik Pears?
A: Yeah, he’s come back better, he’s coming off an injury the year before. He’s got tough competition every day and that should help him during the season.. He has to work and compete to make a block going against Mario [Williams].. Those two guys have worked well together.

Q: Your thoughts on Andre [Reed] as a receiver?
A: I have a lot of respect for him, he was a heck of a player, I know that. I really haven’t seen a lot of what he did though.

QB EJ Manuel
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Q: Can you talk about Chris Hogan’s development?
A: Chris has done a great job. He’s a guy who I would consider an “everyday-er.” He comes to work ready to go. He’s very assignment oriented and he’s made some huge catches for us on these third down conversions.

Q: Can you speak about your level of comfort in terms of timing here in week two?
A: I just think the more I’m working with the o-line. Those guys have done a great job, especially this week, picking up the defense’s blitz and their looks. We’ve been communicating very well in the line of scrimmage. So that allows us to really pick it up.. For me, as a quarterback, when you know you’re protected, you can truly just sit back there and pick the defensive part and distribute the ball to those receivers. Cyril (Richardson) did a great job coming in today and filling in for a guy. I’m very happy for those young guys. The more reps they get, the more it’s going to help those guys later in the season.

Q: You have an extra preseason game. Have the coaches addressed the fact that you have an extra one and is it going to change your approach?
A: We just see it as our first game. It’s not like, “Oh, we have five instead of four.” We’re just processing it as, “We have the Giants this Sunday.”

Q: Are your expectations raised for this first preseason game in light of the fact that it’s many of your second year?
A: I’m not really looking at expectations yet. I’ll probably start looking more into that on Friday or Saturday. We’re still working each day against our own defense. So, we haven’t truly broken down any film on the Giants yet. But, obviously we want to go out there and put out a great product. It’s national TV. It’s the kickoff of the NFL season so obviously we want to start off with a bang.

Q: What are you hoping to get out of the game on Sunday night?
A: A productive night, a bunch of drives and we move the ball. Whether we score a lot of points, which would be awesome, but the main thing is that we want to see guys get in and out of the huddle, go through plays and just execute. This is our first game, so we just need to go out there and practice what we’ve been doing out here every day.

Q: What are your views on Stephon Gilmore as a cornerback?
A: Steph is awesome. He and I have a great rapport back and forth with each other, just as far as what he’s looking in me and what I’m looking for in him. We were good friends before we got to the Bills. I played against him in college. The communication we have back and forth is good and I think we’re both benefitting from that. And him going against Sammy [Watkins] every day, Robert Woods every day and Mike Williams is only going to help him when it gets into the real season.

Q: Can you talk about the offseason film study of quarterbacks you did?
A: I watched Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, Cam Newton, quite a few guys and Colin Kaepernick, who I worked out with, as well. That was just simply seeing what they do, good or bad. Whether they have a great game or bad game, I wanted to see how they would bounce back the following week. There wasn’t anything specifically that I was looking at technically as far as what they do, but I just wanted to see how they work week-in week-out. Those are some of the most successful quarterbacks in the league and I see a little bit of my game in each of those guys.

Q: How do you think that film study has benefitted you?
A: Tremendously. I think throws that I’ve started to make this year, at least attempted to make, are throws I wasn’t doing last year. I think instead of being more cautious, not that you’re being dangerous with the ball because you still want to take care of it, but our receivers want to make plays. They want the opportunity to make a big catch. I think watching a guy Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, they cut it loose. They allow their receiver to go out and make a play and earn their money. That’s what I think I’ve started to do this past camp.

Q: Do you think you need to open it up this season and take more chances downfield?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think we’ve done that these past couple weeks. Hopefully you guys have been watching the practices. I think we’re throwing the ball vertically down the field, hitting the seam, throwing the deep ball very well and the guys are doing a great job tracking the ball and catching it. The ball is not always perfect, so that’s what football is about. It’s a game. You’ve got to go out there and make plays and that’s what we’ve been doing.

Q: What happened on that 99-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins?
A: I just dropped back and threw it and he ran a great route. It was against Gilmore, which says a lot, as well. Being backed up, that’s kind of your dream as a QB, a chance to have a 99-yard touchdown. Sammy did a great job stacking him and it was a huge play for us

Q: Has there been a discussion about the game Sunday?
A: Not yet. We haven’t really, like I said, discussed the game itself. I watched a little bit of film on the Giants, but nothing extensive. I still think we need to focus on the practices we have here at St. John Fisher first. Obviously, toward the weekend we’ll get prepared for those guys.

Q: Is it an honor to play in this game?
A: No doubt. No question. To have Andre Reed be somebody who is being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Obviously, with Mr. Wilson passing not long ago, to be able to go out and play against the Giants in the inaugural game on the season

Q: Do you think the offense has made gradual strides throughout camp?
A: Yeah, I appreciate that. Definitely, definitely. We’ve been making strides. Even in the dog days of last week, I feel like we were still making strides to get to this point. It’s not always going to be perfect and, like I said, the o-line has been doing a great job. They’re going against some great guys on the defensive line. Like I said, our communication has really picked up. I think that’s just allowing us quarterbacks to have time to throw the ball downfield to our receivers.

Q: How do you feel the offense in progress?
A: I think we’re progressing along the time line that we want to be progressing. We’re still four weeks away from the opener in the regular season, so as long as we continue to brick in each day and get better and get better, I think we’ll be more than ready to go against to Chicago.

Q: Can you talk about the red zone work this year as opposed to last year?
A: I don’t really recall. We didn’t do that at all last year. I think that’s something I’m happy Coach Marrone implemented for us. It’s been like the past eight practices that we’ve done red zone at the end of practice, just like a quick seven-on-seven. I think it’s helping us be more physical in the red zone because it’s tighter. Obviously, the throws have to be more on point and on time. At the same time, we’re comfortable down there. It’s not like it’s a foreign area for us. I think that’s one thing that we wanted to get better from last year. Our percentage wasn’t as high as we wanted it to be in the red zone. As long as we’re about 60 percent, we’ve been like 70 percent the last couple days doing it in practice. I think that’s really going to help us.


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