Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Opening Statement: Good morning. Just an update, injury-wise: a couple new injuries to bring to light. Jordan Mills has an illness, came in this morning with a stomach bug. Kevon Seymour, we’ll list as day-to-day, he hurt his shoulder yesterday in practice. Tanner Vallejo did have his knee scoped yesterday, we’ll list [him] as week-to-week. Marcell Dareus, a little bit of a hip issue going on, we’ll list him as day-to-day. Jordan Matthews as well as Cordy Glenn, both of which are progressing well, they will make the trip [to Baltimore]. We’ll continue to list them as day-to-day. We believe they’re headed in the right direction moving forward. Out for the game will be Colt Anderson, Jeremy Butler, as well as Rod Streater and Tanner Vallejo. With that, I will open it up to your questions.

Q: So Cordy [Glenn] and Jordan [Matthews] are making the trip. Do you expect them to play?

A: I really don’t at this point. We do want to get them acclimated to traveling with us and going through that process. Staying in the hotel the night before, being in the meetings, and we also may even look at having them warm up with the team and be on the sideline there too. Just getting them acclimated to the process.

Q: I’m assuming [Dion] Dawkins will get at least a look at left tackle?

A: Yes. That’s correct, he will.

Q: Sean, what do you think the challenge is for Dion, now needing reps more on the left side but knowing, hopefully, that Cordy [Glenn] will be there to start [by week one] and kind of getting him back over to competing at right tackle?

A: Well, if you’re Dion, you go at it like ‘I’m the starter at left tackle.’ As a competitor, that’s what you have to do. He has played there before all through the spring and then he played the right [side], as you mentioned, to this point in camp other than this week. It’s really done, what I think, has created a nice foundation for Dion at both sides, to be able to play both positions. We expect him to put his best foot forward, just like the rest of our guys out there so I look forward to watching him.

Q: What’s been the results of having officials in practice in regards to the penalties so far?

A: Well, for us, because I know it helps them, the local guys that we’ve brought in, it helps them get ready for their seasons. For us, it’s being mindful of our technique, being mindful of playing in the rules, and obviously just managing what goes on during practice. There’s flags on the ground so just the visual, I’m hoping, of them being around on a day-to-day basis moves us in the right direction with respect to the penalties.

Q: Have there been a lot in practice or has it improved?

A: Well, there’s been some. I walked over to one of [the referees] the other day and I said, ‘you know, listen. You’ve got to fill a quota – about five a day – in order to get paid here.’ There haven’t been as many as maybe I’d had hoped, but I don’t want penalties to begin with. They’re here for a reason and I think it’s been, hopefully, mutually beneficial for them and for us.

Q: Has Coach [Rick] Dennison reached a decision on where he’s going to situate himself on Saturday?

A: We’re still looking at that and Rick wants to put himself in the best position to be successful, just like we put our players. He’s getting himself just right based on our staff. We got Coach [David] Culley back this week, which is good, and so that changes the dynamic just a little bit as well. We’ll see how that flows.

Q: Coach Culley, if Coach Dennison is upstairs, Coach Culley would be the connection to the guys on the field?

A: At this point, Coach Culley will be upstairs for sure.

Q: Leslie Frazier yesterday said it’s no doubt that Reggie [Ragland]’s rehab and progress with his knee has kept him where he is right now on the depth chart, so to speak. The point made before, once the regular season starts, how do you weigh that with giving him enough reps in practice?

A: Well, the thing I love about Reggie is he’s doing a really good job off the field right now in terms of extra work before practice [and] extra work after practice in terms of his conditioning and getting himself where he needs to be. Coming off the injury, as we all know he’s coming off of, you start from a position of deficit unfortunately, and he’s really working hard. He continues to get himself comfortable with our system and I think that his best football is in front of him.

Q: Given all of the questions at wide receiver, does Walt Powell get playing time? The immediate need is trying to identify who the number three and four receivers will be when you play the Jets on the 10th. Is that correct?

A: We’re going to look at a lot of guys at the receiver position Saturday night, Walt being one of them. We’ve got to get out there and establish a rhythm offensively and that means getting everyone involved, whether that’s Walt or the other receivers. With respect to the suspension, that obviously is part of what Walt carries with him at this point. That said, he’s owned it, we’ve moved on from that, and I think Walt’s done a nice job [and] had a good camp so far.

Q: I guess, do you need or is there more of an urgency to establish what the receiver group will look like on September 10th as opposed to getting Walt Powell ready for October?

A: Well, just like every position, we are evaluating our personnel and we’re evaluating the best 53 for us to move forward into the season with. We know Jordan [Matthews] and what Jordan can do. Jordan’s made a tremendous amount of progress over the last week, give or take. He stays after and works with the quarterbacks and so when you look at Jordan and Zay [Jones] and Andre [Holmes], they’re developing a nice chemistry. Now, like I mentioned earlier, it’s ‘who else is going to step up and show consistency?’ I think Walt’s been, as you mentioned Walt’s name, he’s been one of the players that has had a nice camp and a couple other guys have done some good things as well so there’s some good competition at that position.

Q: In your mind, what makes Saturday night a success?

A: Again, we’re staying process-oriented. For us to go out and do what we do as a football team and establish ourselves at the line of scrimmage, and defensively we have goals that we set out to accomplish every week and we want to do some things offensively as well. We want to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. Fundamentally be where we expect to be at this point in the preseason. [We] still [have] a couple weeks to go, or a week to go after Saturday night, in the preseason but fundamentally, where are we? We hope we’re further along than we were two weeks ago and last week with blocking, with tackling, with throwing and catching the football. We’re looking to check those boxes as a football team, and then special teams. We’ve had some issues where we’ve shot ourselves in the foot with respect to the penalties. I want to see us continue to play with great effort in all three phases, namely special teams. I think we’ve played with a tremendous amount of effort and do things that we make people work to beat us. That’s what equates to winning football games.

Q: Is one of those goals as an offense to put the ball in the end zone with the first team offense?

A: Well, that’s how you win games, right? You score one more point than the other team, so that’s what we’re looking to do. If it’s 1-0, we’re going to look to win 1-0. I don’t know how you do that, I haven’t figured that out.

Q: [Canadian Football League]?

A: CFL, maybe. Maybe 2-0. Or maybe it’s, whatever. We’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for the Ravens. They’re off to a strong start and I know Coach [John] Harbaugh. I’ve worked with him and so I know what he’s developing in his football team. This will be a nice challenge for us, it really will. I want to see us come out and have the right look in our eye and get prepared to play a good football game.

Q: Will Nate Peterman still be the second quarterback behind Tyrod [Taylor]

A: Yes

Q: How much work do you expect LeSean [McCoy] to get on Saturday night?

A: Well the starters, I’d like to see them as I mentioned earlier in the week, come out of the locker room at halftime and play a series or two, give or take in there. LeSean will be around that area as a starter. We’ll see, and see how he feels. He’s been in this league long enough to know what he needs to do to get himself ready as he ramps up his reps cycle, if you will.

Q: What was it about Colton’s [Schmidt] preseason and camp that allowed you to end that competition a little quicker than some of the others?

A: I think both Colton and Stephen [Hauschka] have had tremendous preseasons. I love the development of their relationship, and the dynamic in watching them interact with Reid [Ferguson], and with Stephen and Colton, that’s a nice little triangle of a relationship there. That’s important because they spend a lot of time on their own, separate of the other guys. They’re off to a good start, I love the fact that Colton, he’s had a couple miss hits in practice, and he’s come back the next punt and has been off the charts, in terms of on the good end of things. His mental toughness I think is definitely headed in the right direction.

Q: For one week now, we’ve seen Vlad Ducasse pretty much take all the reps at right guard, what have you seen from him to give him a leg up on John [Miller] at this point?

A: Well it’s still an open competition. Vlad will start this week, John started the first two games, and they’re going to continue to rotate. Having said that with that guard position, both of those players bring value to our football team. Both have started games before in the NFL, they’re tough, they know what we want to get done schematically upfront, and the players around those two trust them inherently. That’s a healthy competition and one that’s been fun to watch so far.

Q: In regards to the position competitions, how important is it for you after this third game to solidify those position battles and shore up the top of your roster?

A: Just overall, you want the roster to take shape, and the team to take shape, and we’re getting there. What happens a lot of times, in this first year, there’s a little bit more loose ends at this point, where you’re trying to shape it, because there’s a lot of open positions that are being battled for at this point. That’s healthy, and we want that every year. That said, it is important that we start to shape the shape of this football team, and we’re seeing that take shape on the practice field, the last two games. We’ll see a little bit more take shape this week on Saturday night, and you want to stay healthy to continue to shape it. The guys are working extremely hard, I love the work they put in through this week, earning the right to win come Saturday night. That’s what we can control, and that’s what we’re focused on right now is what we can control and how we play Saturday night.

Q: Do you plan on making those decisions though before the fourth preseason game?

A: We’ll see, it depends on the position. It probably depends on what happens and what unfolds Saturday night. There are certain guys that have a better grasp on their position than others. And I’ll say this, I think every year, if you have the right approach, as a coach, as a player, you come into training camp expecting to earn the right to be on the team. Yes, there have been some players that have potentially been in one place, or started the year before. That said, I believe I’ve been around some really good football players who take that same approach. I learned that from Brian Dawkins back in Philadelphia over the years. He came to training camp and said ‘hey, I’ve got to earn my seat on this football team.’ If a guy like that can say it, and feel that way and have that type of attitude and approach, then we all can.

Q: After last week’s performance by the offense, Tyrod [Taylor] said ‘hey, no excuses, we have to get things right,’ how has come through the week of practice here to prepare for Saturday?

A: One thing I noticed was his leadership, and it hasn’t changed. He’s the first one in the building, or just about the first one in the building and one of the last to leave. From a head coach’s standpoint, I appreciate that, I know his teammates appreciate that about him. I feel like he’s more decisive, and playing more free within the offense. He’s developing some continuity and chemistry with his receivers, and Jordan [Matthews]. Even though Jordan at this point, is probably not going to play Saturday night, you’re seeing that develop through practice reps together. That’s been good to watch.

Q: In respect to playing more free, could you maybe be more specific in terms of the latitude that you guys afford him within the scope of the offense, and the challenge that a quarterback faces sometimes when he’s trying to acclimate himself into a new offense? He wants to kind of play it by the book sometimes, but you’re saying he’s playing more free, has he reached a point where he feels comfortable and loose where he knows what the parameters are?

A: For our players, I want them to know that playing free is powerful, there’s power in that. We’re not going out there to think. I’m the one that has to think, thank God I don’t have to play, I’m the one that only has to think. They have to go out there and play, and basically default into the habits that they’ve built up through the week, or through the preseason. When you do that, there’s power in that. You tend to have, or put on display the best version of yourself when you play free, and play aggressive.

Q: When Kevon [Seymour] is healthy, is he still in the mix for the outside spot opposite of Tre’Davious [White], or is he strictly inside?

A: He’s in the mix for both positions, and that’s the great part about Kevon, he plays outside, he plays inside. The added reps, the time on task will help. We look forward to watching him.

Q: You spoke earlier about supporting and respecting players who make national protests during the national anthem, is that something you think could divide a team, if some protested and some didn’t?

A: I could imagine, like anything out there, if you don’t handle it the right way, things get out of kilter and become what you don’t want them to become. In this case, like I’ve said before, if you start and end with love and respect, and that’s what we’ve tried to build here from day one, it can also be an advantage, in terms of how we’re building this football team. Around love and around respect, and that’s what I see on our football team right now starting to take shape as I’ve said before.

Q: Going back to that outside corner position, I know you said that E.J. Gaines is a guy who’s put himself in the mix, but what are you looking for from that competition this Saturday?

A: Consistency, understanding what we do philosophically on defense, and players that are going to play consistent. I told them this story the other day, I used to drive a Honda Accord. The one thing about it, I said ‘it may not have wheels that spin backwards, but I know one thing about that car, when I go out, rain or shine, morning or night, that bad boy is going to start.’ That’s what I’m looking for throughout the entire football team is consistency. With that comes trust and we need to continue to develop trust on this football team because that’s an element and a characteristic of great teams – we all trust one another.

Q: There have been some rumors out there about LeSean McCoy potentially being traded. Is the team in any position at all to trade LeSean McCoy?

A: No.

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