Head Coach Rex Ryan
Alright guys, first thing’s first. Can anybody play tight end? I thought Tony Sparano did a terrific job filling in. You know, it’s funny because at practice, and I’m sure you guys are a lot like me, you look forward to it, you’re excited to see it, and then you got Tony playing tight end. But, you know, I think this time of year you’re always, you’re putting in drills, you’re putting in things and they’ve never done them before and it’s like, “Wow.” How the heck did you ever get to the end thing where guys know what they’re doing? It’s like, “Wow.” They got a long way to go to say the least. But with that said, it’s a beautiful day out and you know, it was decent. I thought the communication was pretty good for the first day putting in a couple of things. So, I think the coaches got their work cut out for them, but it was a good start.
Q: What’s the volume of what you feed these guys in a weekend like this, Rex?
A: What you do though is you try to feed them probably more than they’ve had, then they’ve put in all season at their schools. So you try to give them a lot of volume just to see what guys can handle. The guys that can, you make note of it. You don’t expect them to pick it up, you expect them to ask questions and all that, but every now and then you get some guys that, boom, they just get it. So we’ll see.
Q: Does the significance strike you when you go on the field and see Rob (Ryan) and Ed (Reed) on the sidelines for the first time and then seeing Adolphus (Washington) and Reggie (Ragland) and Shaq (Lawson) there for the first time, do you get an appreciation for that as the day begins?
A: Oh yeah, there’s no doubt. And then John Blake (defensive line coach) had a little surgery and things so it’s killing him. He’ll probably be out here tomorrow. No, I’m just kidding. They actually said they have to protect him against himself because he came back, I guess, one day after having his shoulder operated on. So he’s not supposed to do that apparently. But, yeah you’ll see that enthusiasm, that energy, from those guys, there’s no question about that. We’re excited about it and when you look at the players, yeah you look out and it’s like, “Oof. Man that looks pretty good.” So you kind of picture them in with the other guys but they’re going to be in there from day one.
Q: Cardale Jones is working fundamentally, a lot of basic things. He said Coach Lee was working his footwork and all those things but just from your eyeball, watching him throw a football and whatever he was doing, early, first impressions?
A: Well obviously he’s got the physical gifts you look for, there’s no question about that. You notice the stature and he’s got a big arm and all that, but you also notice that he’s just going through everything like it’s spinning right now. He’s throwing behind guys—he doesn’t know where he’s going with it right now. He’s got a long way to go.
Q: Coach, you have the cameras out there on the quarterback helmets. Is that more for the coaches or is that more for the quarterbacks themselves to kind of see their own eyeballs on tape?
A: Well certainly not for this coach because I’ll be honest, I’m not going to watch those. But David Lee and all those guys will watch it. But it’s really what they’re doing now and it is for these kids. It’s for the quarterbacks and where are their eyes at, in particular? So, yeah we’re trying anything. Anything that we can do that we think can help, then we’re going to do for our guys, there’s no question. But it is, I think there’s some value. I saw all the testing and all that type of stuff and I think there’s some type of value for quarterbacks in particular.
Q: Reggie Ragland was, looked like he was calling defensive plays. I know there might not a lot of them in there right now, but how comfortable are you with him right there, right away, learning all that stuff and doing that?
A: I feel good about it. You know, they call things different obviously at Alabama, but it’s still the same thing. It’s like, “Hey, by the way, ‘this’ means ‘this coverage’ here,” and all that, so, he’s trying to filter all that stuff in right now. But he obviously did that at Alabama and we think he’ll be able to do that here. Preston (Brown) will by our main signal caller, but he’ll have to learn it also.
Q: Rex, you talked about the fact that he and Shaq actually bonded, you know, previously. How important is it that they get along and they seem to…How important is that right from the hop for those two guys to have some sort of connection?
A: I think anytime you come in, it’s just like recruiting class. You come in a certain recruiting class, you’ll always bond with those guys. They’re generally going to be your friends for your colleges and maybe later in life. Same thing when you come in as a rookie. You’ll bond with the rookie class, I think that’s a given. The fact that those guys will be out there, hopefully for 10 years, playing together, I think it will just grow and grow.
Q: In those top-three guys, what qualities do they have that remind you maybe of your past defenses in Baltimore and New York?
A: I think they’re physical. I think that’s a---especially the top two that you talked about, they’re physical. All three, they have a great passion for the game, they love to play and obviously they’re all athletic. So it’s a great combination. I think the biggest thing that jumps out at me is how they play and hoe passionate they are about it, like they love to play football. Whether they can do other sports or anything, actually two of them I think were players of the year in their state in basketball. Washington, I think, was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio and I think Shaq was also. So they can do other things but I know they love football, and that’s obviously very important.
Q: Rex, will you be using that last roster spot on Matt Slauson?
A: (Laughs) Hey, who knows? We had him out here today. Matt, when we drafted him, there’s a funny thing that came down. We had like three or four guys that we were looking at, that last pick, and we had taken all offensive players. And all I heard was, “He’s never going to draft an offensive player. He’s always going to draft a defensive player.” So he was the only offensive player and we took him. He ended up starting for what, eight years now or something like that? So that one kind of worked out. But yeah, it was good to see him out here. Obviously, he’s a guy we’re very familiar with. You have him do the physicals, you have him do different things and stuff to see where he is that way, but he played for (Aaron) Kromer (Bills offensive line coach) and obviously I had him with the Jets.
Q: You mentioned short or no tight ends, Gronk (Glenn Gronkowski) had to take some snaps over there as well besides fullback. Just the observations of that and your thought of—you know that family and you know Rob (Gronkowski). What are you looking at when you see that kid?
A: I love the way he played. I thought he was---they did a lot with him at Kansas State but obviously he’s got the bloodlines. But it’s more than that. It’s the style of play and I look at him as a guy that, you know, I’m expecting big things from him. Can he contribute on special teams, can he be a backup fullback, use him at different things, backup tight end? We’ll see. He’s going to get the opportunity to prove it. But I would not be surprised if he does very well.
Q: He said that he’s more intelligent than his brother (Rob). Do you agree with that?
A: Oh, absolutely. I think that’s a given.
Q: How much did you bug him? He said you kind of told him some stories and tales and how much did you bug him about Rob.
A: I’m glad you said that. I feel much better about that now. No, I recruited him, there’s no question. At the end of the draft I called him up and recruited him myself because I really liked him when I saw him as a player. And then I guess the family was in the background, so, I had a couple of parting shots. But I always do. Every time I see him, we go after each other and things like that, but, you know, I told him, “You’re going to be doubled every snap. I don’t know if you should even show up for the game. You know that.” But no, it was good. I think Rob was proud of his brother obviously and him getting the opportunity to play here.
Q: Hey Rex, what have your impressions of Joe Licata been through meeting him and with practice now?
A: I think him and Tyrod (Taylor) will battle for No. 1 and No. 1A. No, the kid looked decent and things like that but probably an uphill climb when you look at our depth chart and stuff. He’s a nice kid and never looked out of place.
Q: Because of your personality Rex, as Cardale said, you might be his long-lost dad. Is there anything we need to know about that?
A: You guys see me throw. I can’t even throw it 30 yards now I don’t think. Okay, 40. But, I’m excited about him because he’s a big, raw talent and does he have to come a long way? There’s no question about that. But, shoot, he’s almost in a perfect situation and we’ll see how he develops. I think the other two guys, with Tyrod and EJ (Manuel) here, I think that’s going to be a great mix. And you know, he can just watch these guys and learn and he has a great position coach in David Lee so, we’ll see what happens down the road with him.
Q: Was that (Erik) Striker at WILL? Is he going to stay there or will he learn everything?
A: We’re trying to get him to learn everything but we put him in there. I think his body type fits there and the way the league is now, that position a lot of times is in space some. So we’ll see what he can do. I think the strength of his game, there’s a guy that loves to play. He’s a good blitzer and he can make plays in space. So we’ll see how he does.
Q: Is he kind of like a chess piece as a creative defensive coordinator like yourself, you can scheme week-to-week a guy like that?
A: Well you can. And the other thing too is we got other guys. When you look at (Lorenzo) Alexander we picked up, the special teams demon? Same type of thing. Smart, athletic, tough, physical. Those are the things that you look for. Jerry Hughes, we might do more of that with Jerry this year but Striker, yeah. When we saw him on tape, that’s what he loved about him, he made plays. And I don’t care what he was doing, that dude was making plays. That’s kind of what you look at. We’ll see how he develops and things like that but a special teams role and doing things like that, yeah, it’s not out of the question.
Q: Striker told us he wasn’t so sure what was so special about chicken wings in Buffalo. What do you have to say about that?
A: We already got to fix that, don’t we? That’s Buffalo wings and don’t be ordering boneless wings. Not here in Buffalo. Trust me, I know, I never do that. Yeah, we got to break him in better than that. Scott’s (Berchtold) got to. Come on, Scott.
Q: Hey Rex, you had Dez Lewis here this weekend. He got a taste of the action at the end of last season for you. Outside of maybe Sammy (Watkins) and Robert (Woods) it seems that there’s jobs to be won in that receivers group. Where do you see him fitting in?
A: Well I think he’s definitely going to be competing and he’ll be up for some of those jobs. Here’s the thing where you see a guy develop in one year. He’s really going like this (slants arm upwards). His work ethic in the weight room, all that, he’s a small college kid, but he’s really, really taken off. He’s definitely here to compete for one of those jobs.
Q: Rex, how familiar were you with Justin Zimmer before he got here and some of the athleticism he shows? I know he comes from a small school, but he definitely has the physical traits.
A: Yeah, I knew nothing about him. But John Blake had actually worked with him. I think the kid did some crazy number like 47 reps or something like that. I mean, some of you guys can do 47 reps with a bar, I couldn’t. But that’s with the bar. This dude’s doing 225 lbs, 47 reps and he did show some athleticism and thigs like that, so we’ll see. But John was really fired up about him and there’s some other guys too.
Q: What did you think of Reid Ferguson?
A: Excuse me?
Q: Long-snapper, LSU…
A: Oh geez. Just say long snapper, guys. I’m just trying to figure out these names too. I hope a guy doesn’t leave our program now. Didn’t that happen with some coach? It did, didn’t it? But seriously, you know what, you’re going to have, just like I did there, you’re going to have those brain freezes. If I have to repeat it like twice, then you know I have no idea who you’re talking about.
Q: Just pretend that you do.
A: Yeah, he did well. I think we’ll go that route.
Q: He have a nice day?
A: I thought he had a super day.
Q: Coach, I know there’s a lot of anticipation and preparation goes into the draft but now that it’s over, what is it like having those guys in the facility and seeing them in a Bills uniform?
A: It is great. It really is. You get excited about it, you really do. When you’re sitting back out there like, “Here’s this kid, here’s this kid,” I never saw the USC corner (Kevon Seymour), so this was my first time really laying eyes on him. The other guys were at the pro day but I wasn’t there. I never met him through the visits or anything like that, so yeah, you get excited about them, no doubt. Shaq, my brother goes to me and says, “Do you think he can see out of that visor?” You know it’s got that Bills thing but he says, “It does look pretty sweet though.’ Yeah, it does. I have no idea on that answer either but, no he looks good.
FB Glenn Gronkowski
Q: So, just again, first impressions…
A: Obviously crazy. Dream come true as I said before but I’m just honored to be out here, just glad for an opportunity, but just to be out here again actually doing football stuff, that’s huge. Learning plays, being out on the football field with your teammates and stuff is just awesome. Different from just trying to run a 40, jumping as high as you can, so glad those last five months are over, glad to be out here again.
Q: And you know, again, with your unique family situation, how much guidance did you get on, “Okay, here’s what you expect before you come in. This is what it’s all about?”
A: Not much. They had to go through the process like I’m going to have to so they basically just threw me in there. Basically not much talk. Just go out there, work hard and just keep doing the things I’ve been doing. It’s gotten me this far, so really, not too much advice from them.
Q: How much fullback stuff were they trying to incorporate or were they trying to incorporate some other things?
A: I mean it’s the first day. We also don’t have any tight ends here so right now, trying to learn everything. Obviously, the more I can do the better, so I think it’s an advantage there’s no tight ends here. It’s making me learn both positions, making me learn both fullback and tight end. They lined me up in the slot as a tight end, I’m in a slot position runner in some routes like that, so I think it will definitely help out.
Q: How comfortable were you at tight end?
A: Different obviously. Never really learned how to run routes in college that much so definitely something new to me. Mostly just used as a blocker, so, trying to run routes, definitely we have the best coaches here in the NFL so learning from them will definitely help out.
Q: Considering your brothers went through and nobody’s played for the Bills, you’re the first one, were there people, friends, family hoping, ‘You know what? Maybe you can.” Were they that happy where they wanted that to happen though they wanted to see you play anywhere?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously I’m close to home, close to all my friends, close to a lot of family. I’ve heard from a lot of people that I haven’t heard from in a lot of years just because they saw that I was on the Bills and everything so it’s good to hear from people that you haven’t in a while and definitely hope I can go out there and help the team win.
Q: When the Gronkowski name comes up, everybody thinks of Rob. How do you separate the persona that he’s created with being yourself? With being Glenn Gronkowski?
A: Yeah, I think a lot of people have already realized that I’m not as crazy as him. It’s not easy to be that crazy and wild but I think people are already starting to realize that. I’m a little more tame, a little more intelligent probably so I would say people are already starting to recognize that.
Q: Did Rob give you any advice before today?
A: No actually. Basically he just asked the same question. I really didn’t hear from him actually. I mean obviously we had a little bit of fun after we found out that I was coming to Buffalo. Obviously we talked a little bit of smack to each other already and stuff but specifically about today? No, I didn’t hear much from him at all.
Q: Again, growing up as his little brother and the focus on him being a Patriot, the rivalry, you got to get into that as a fan of him but now that you’re here, the mindset’s kind of flipped to fully buy into this.
A: Yeah, absolutely. Growing up my whole life I was a Bills fan though. My senior year, I think I went to every home game actually, of high school. I’m pretty sure I was at seven or eight of their home games. Obviously, the last six years I cheered for the Patriots but down deep, I’ve been a Bills fan and it’s great to be back home.
Q: So who’s the best athlete out of all you guys?
A: I don’t know. I mean, with what Rob’s done, I’d probably say Rob right now. Usually it’s between me and him, anything the family ever does, when we have friends and stuff over, it usually comes down to me and him at the end no matter what we do.
Q: The challenge of making a team, and you’ve seen it, a lot of undrafted guys, 15 undrafted players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so it’s not a bad course to have success, but how do you see the challenge of making an NFL roster.
A: I’m out here, I have an opportunity, and that’s the most I could ask for. Obviously playing fullback, you expect to go undrafted most likely. Obviously, very few fullbacks drafted in the NFL Draft so really don’t see it as that much of a disadvantage just because of the lack of the position itself. Like I said, I have the opportunity to be here and I’m definitely excited to make the most of it.
Q: With the position being kind of limited throughout the league, do you a feel a certain---that it’s on you to really show a lot more than a standard blocker guy? “I can be effective running routes, I can be valuable in multiple ways.” Is that your mindset?
A: Yeah, absolutely. The more you can do, the better it is, so obviously try to go out there, try to learn those routes that I said earlier, not really have done before. Try to go out there and play special teams, show that I can do all those special teams, definitely, I’ll say it again; the more you can do, the better. Definitely need to show I can do more stuff. Obviously, the Bills do use a more traditional fullback, so have to go out there and show that I can do that as well.
Q: How much easier has this transition been because you’re from around here and you don’t need to get used to a new city or relocate or anything.
A: I don’t know, I’ve never had to do it before, so I mean yeah, it’s just awesome. Obviously, I have my family here, my friends are here for support so obviously keeping up with them and everything and just relaxing and trying to keep my mind off of football sometimes, knowing the area and everything like that. So I’d say it definitely helps out.
Q: What did you miss most about the area? Is there anything that you had to do when you got back?
A: Definitely the food. Definitely the food. Every time I come back, the first thing I do is go to Jim’s SteakOut and get a chicken finger sub, so definitely miss the food, already got some wings and everything, so it’s good to be back.
Q: Aside from the fact that you grew up a Bills fan, the fact that they do use more of a traditional offensive set, was that one of the big rulers to once they called, it’s like, “Yeah, I’m in?”
A: Yeah, definitely. I mean, they said they want to move me around a little bit too. I mean, just a pretty hilarious phone call with Rex actually, definitely saw me playing for a coach like that so, I mean, of course the position and everything. You want to go somewhere where you’re needed, you feel that valuable and you can add something to help the team win.
Q: What sort of jokes was Rex cracking on your call?
A: Probably a lot I shouldn’t say to be honest. I’ll let you guys think of those ones.
QB Cardale Jones
Q: What did you think of your first opportunity there?
A: I liked it a lot I think it went well. Of course a lot of things you can take away from today, and that is what coaches will work.
Q: You are new to it--is it overwhelming at all?
A: No, it is not overwhelming. I mean they gave us a lot to know on the first day, but you know all the coaches have been understandable that it is the first day. They are helping us with the things we are not picking up as fast as they thought we would be. But overall, I think I am keeping my head above water.
Q: What was your comfort level?
A: Very comfortable until we started switching up my feet a little for our stance under center and shotgun.
Q: What is your normal stance and what do they have you doing here?
A: At Ohio State I didn’t really have a stance under center because I was never under center. But when I went through the whole combine process, the whole draft process working with NFL centers and working with George Whitfield. I was taught to kind of have my left foot staggered back because we would have majority of right handed centers and after they snap the ball they are going to kick the left leg back. Most times, nine times out of ten if you have a quarterback under center who has both feet up sort of say that even he gets his foot stepped on. So having my foot staggered back, my left one was giving me kind of an advantage of pushing back from the line of scrimmage just one step.
Q: Saw David Lee working with you out there after every snap--good or bad.
A: Yeah and that is what I need, that is what I want to break the habit of staggering my foot because there were times I was staggering my foot and I didn’t even feel it. You know I talked to him about that after practice, he saw two things mechanical things I wasn’t struggling with but showed up once in a while throughout the practice. I was dropping my elbow and staggering my feet. So I was telling him give me queues before the play or after the play. Hey, just say feet and I know what you are talking about, because it was like during the plays, the play before I threw the ball low and he would saw elbow you know and next play I would throw it better.
Q: Your feet position is going to impact how the ball comes out as well?
A: Yeah, I think the critical part about my feet in the beginning of the play is just the depth, but you are totally right.
Q: Jim Kelly talked you a little after practice, what did he say to you—give you advice or encouragement?
A: Yeah words of encouragement. Just saying it is the first day keep your head up, you look good. But he said something about me taking the fall step and I told him why and the example I just explained to you. I am used to staggering my left foot and then I am taking a fall step and that is worse than staggering and having your foot parallel to the line of scrimmage. He asked why and I knew what it came from and just trying to break a habit. It shouldn’t be too hard I just learned the habit three months ago.
Q: How important is it to be open minded about coming in here and being molded the way they want you to be?
A: It is very important because you have to have your trust, not just trust but faith in them coaches. Lucky enough I do. Coach [David] Lee and Coach [Greg] Roman are proven coaches. There are things, little things, I mean we haven’t really gotten too deep into mechanics or things like that too in-depth. Little fixes, little twitches he already kind of told me about. I felt better with a rep or two. I guess open mindedness played a huge role in that.
Q: Because guys can come in and be stubborn?
A: Yeah Coach [David] Lee and Coach [Greg] Roman actually both said that about learning the playbook. You know he was saying you don’t know, the good thing is you don’t know that you don’t know--that is good. But you don’t want to be the guy that thinks you know but you don’t. Basically that ties in with being stubborn that is a great way they put it.
Q: How do you look at this quarterback situation?
A: No I am not going in here saying I just want to be a backup. I am going in here knowing that that Tyrod [Taylor] is our starter. I am going in here knowing that EJ [Manuel] is our backup. I am going in here learning, working as hard as I can working with Coach [David] Lee in the film room, on and off the field. Whatever happens after that I guess is just a product of great circumstances. I mean I didn’t come here saying I want to take over anything.
Q: What is realistic this year or next year in your mind?
A: Man I got a small portion of the playbook today. I still want to execute at a higher level. Whenever I think, when I have a great grasp of the playbook and understanding the systems and defenses.
Q: Adolphus Washington said he was happy teammates saw leadership from you already.
A: Just when I walked in right off the field he was like good stuff, like guys were just like good stuff, I don’t know everyone’s name yet. But just like good stuff, you all said how he was on before we broke the huddle, hey get back in the huddle or stop talking in the huddle. Small things like, even though guys would chat in the huddle I am pretty sure they were being anxious, what should I do--stuff like that. But you know just understanding the leadership role and that is not behavior that is tolerated in the huddle and little things like that and lining guys up right and stuff like that. It can go a long way.
Q: He also said he thought you would be a better quarterback in the NFL than you were at Ohio State?
A: Basically yeah and I always thought that too when I was going through the process. Not of course while I was at school, but going through the process learning all the responsibilities the quarterback have and learning about the different things the quarterback can do. Not just within post-snap or pre-snap. So I feel like that is something I was looking forward to doing. That is a huge challenge, but I am looking forward to doing it and having that control already knowing the formations and helping guys line up and things like that.
Q: What are your impressions of Joe Licata the guy out there throwing passes with you today?
A: You say his full name like I don’t know him. He is in the quarterback room with me. (Laughs) But no he is good, man. He catches on to the coaching quick. A couple of things I was struggling with, and maybe it is just his experience being under center last year at his school but a couple things he was doing Coach [David] Lee was like do it like this. I was like looking at Joe [Licata] how to do it, okay coach looking at a Joe. I haven’t seen too much of him but I think he is a good player. A couple of the reps he took today I was trying to look at him but I was getting coached up. So I am looking forward to getting into the film room with him. I mean just for the one or two days I have been with him he is extremely smart. I mean he is a hard worker, he is a competitor or he wouldn’t be here.
Q: We have heard a lot about your big personality and coming to a coach who lets people be themselves?
A: He might be my long lost dad. I have been looking for that guy for 23 years, I think I found him. Yeah great guy man already. When I got to visit here in Buffalo he said some pretty honest remarks. He told a couple of our players, six guys up here, listen here we are not going to draft you guys, you guys are going to be gone before we have the opportunity to draft you. He told Adolphus [Washington] if you are around we are going to get you and then told me we are going to get you. We are not here to B.S. you and stuff like that. It was pretty sweet when they called. I have no clue who called me first but I am pretty sure I talked to everybody in the organization and their wives that day. But Coach [Rex] Ryan, man he stood out, because he basically said we don’t B.S. here. I told you we were going to get you, you know if you were on the table when we had the opportunity too. Just a team meeting today and the things he said out there today to us. Let us know he demands excellence, but we are going to have a great time doing it.
DE Shaq Lawson
Q: What was it like to put the uniform on?
A: It felt great to put this uniform on. Great to be with my new team and my new room. So I felt great going back out there today.
Q: What is it like with Adolphus and Reggie being on the field together and knowing you will be counted on this year?
A: Oh yeah with those guys, they lead those teams to big championships and won a lot of games with their programs. So being apart with those guys and getting back going it was great back there. Me and Reggie [Ragland] were already close friends before coming here. I met Reggie back a while ago. So getting me and Reggie back on the field was just great.
Q: How did you guys meet?
A: Back at the Nagurski Award--we were both finalist for the Nagurski Award. We met then, we were friends in the college All-Star, stuff like that. And we played against each other. We just had a great relationship before we even got drafted by the team.
Q: First exposure to the playbook?
A: It comes fast. You got to be able to learn quick. I picked up well on it today. Continue to get better with the playbook, continue to study. But it comes fast, I could tell it was a lot different than college. It comes actually faster.
Q: What were the coaches in your ear about today, just alignments?
A: Alignments, assignments, techniques, phase, playing outside linebacker like that. So it is a lot coming at you at once so you just got to be ready.
Q: What made Rex’s defenses great and how would you fit in those?
A: I mean it is an aggressive defense he had in the past and I used to watch Buffalo Bills when they had Mario [Williams] and those guys. They are just an aggressive defense and I am a very aggressive player and I can lineup anywhere and play. So that is why I fit good.
Q: What is it like replacing a guy like Mario Williams?
A: I am here to do my job. They drafted me to get after the passer, they drafted me because I am the player I am. I haven’t really thought about Mario Williams. He was a great player. I am just going to come in and do my job and do what I do best.
Q: Does it feel like big shoes to fill?
A: Nope, no sir.
Q: Why doesn’t it feel like it?
A: I have been playing this game for a long time. I have been playing behind great players like Vic Beasley. People asked me about filling his shoes then, I just continue being myself and continue working on my game.
QB Joe Licata
Q: How much fun was it to be out there?
A: It was cool being out there you know walking through the field house. You know I have been in here a hundred times throughout high school and then in college. Once you put the helmet on it is football. It is not a dream anymore it is a reality. It is getting to work and really studying the playbook and getting out there with the guys.
Q: Did it feel surreal at all?
A: No, I mean it was cool seeing the helmet with Licata on it with the Bills logo on it. Once I got past that really it is just football at this point. It is just a great opportunity for me. So that is what it comes down to.
Q: Did you feel you fit in?
A: You have to speed your feet up a little bit, get the ball out a little quicker. But football is football once you get that adjustment period it is not as bad. We are not out here playing against a Rex Ryan defense quite yet. But once that happens I am sure it will be faster.
Q: What do you think you have to show these guys to continue playing after this weekend?
A: I don’t know. It is going to take a lot of hard work just staying in that film room and asking Coach [David] Lee a lot of questions. He is a brilliant guy, he knows a lot of football. Him and Coach [Greg] Roman together, two great offensive minds. So I am going to be in their ear the whole time and just asking questions. Trying to learn as much as I can at this point.
Q: Do you think you have no margin for error?
A: Yeah, once you start thinking you have to be perfect that is when everything goes badly. I am just going out there trying to master the offense and just play football, just be me. Once you start trying to be something you are not that is when you start to get in a lot of trouble out there. I am just trying to do what I do best, throw the ball accurately to these guys.
LB Reggie Ragland
Q: I heard that you and Shaq (Lawson) go back a little bit.
A: Yeah, it’s kind of like four flats on a Cadillac. No, I got really close to Shaq through the process. At first, I thought he’s crazy, heard a couple stories of him, but for the most part, I got to know him and he’s a really good guy and he’s a great friend of mine. So, I’m glad to be here with him and he’s one of the players I wanted to play with if I had a chance to during the process.
Q: Why is that? What is it about him that draws you to want to play with him?
A: Because he’s a good player, no doubt, and when we were getting ready to play him for the national championship, all our teammates were talking about how good of a player he was. To be here and actually getting to meet him as a person, he’s got a great personality. He likes to crack around the jokes just like I do, so that drew me to him.
Q: So today, and again this whole experience of taking in a defense that a lot of people say is similar to the one you played at Alabama, did you see the similarities?
A: Oh yeah. I saw a little bit of it. You could tell it’s kinda like ‘Bama but for the most part, the only thing different about it is the terminology. So when I get down to terminology, I can start putting it piece-by-piece and doing some things I learned at Alabama, so just really got to learn the terminology and I’ll get a chance to learn it.
Q: Did you feel comfortable?
A: Yeah, I felt real comfortable out there making all the calls and getting everyone to line up. I had a great time out there.
Q: When you take the field today with Shaq and Adolphus (Washington), can you appreciate the fact that, you know, the three of you were drafted at this point to be more of the future of this defense and to be integral portions of this defense? Do you appreciate that?
A: Oh yeah, I appreciate that because those guys come from winning programs and Adolphus won a championship last year and Shaq played in a national championship and won an ACC Championship, so both them guys know how to win. Anytime you get guys that know how to win, you can start a culture like when Coach (Nick) Saban got to Alabama. Coach Saban knew how to win but he had to learn how to get his guys to buy in. Coach Ryan did a great job of getting everybody to buy in, so it’s up to him to get everybody to buy in and continue to process that like started.
Q: What are some of your impressions of Rex and of Rob?
A: They’re great coaches. They love to joke around off the field. They love on you and once you get on the field, it’s nothing but business. I’m glad I got the coaches I did because I always wanted to play for Coach Ryan, the Ryan’s actually, both of them. I get an opportunity to do that, so I’m thankful and happy.
Q: No one ever has. This is the first time they’re together
A: Oh yeah. Coach Rex always had good defenses and his brother, he was a coordinator, has had good schemes. They love to blitz, so anytime you get a chance to do that, you got both of them together, you know you’re going to get some great schemes.
LB Eric Striker
Q: So it is still resonating from that video with the people that feel they connected with you?
A: Yeah, it is. The video reached out to encourage and inspire a lot of people. I think that is, you know as you are living you know you all too want to inspire people and individuals that look up to you. And everybody’s path is different, maybe that is something maybe a lot of people saw for the first time. And said maybe that is the way it is supposed to be said, that is the way it is done if I am ever in that situation. He took the situation and flipped it and turned it into something and touched a lot of people. So if anything I am here now. I am ready to practice and get with my teammates and coaches. I am happy it touched and inspired a lot of people.
Q: It looked like you lined up at WILL today, are you staying there or learning other positions?
A: Yeah it was mainly WILL today and getting that down. It is a little new to me always looking from the outside in, in college. But you know football is football once you go over the playbook you walk through it you start to make those mistakes early. As long as you don’t make those same mistakes you know every day you are getting better. It was mostly WILL today, it was a pretty good deal I enjoyed it.
Q: It is a new look for you over there can you talk about it?
A: It is a bit of a new look. But for me, what helps me as long as I know where the guys around me are fitting, all four linebackers and the safety is coming down or something. As long as I know how that works I know my general area and where I fit and play off everybody. It is not, you know football it is not too hard to figure that it. I am looking at a different view but I am always up for the challenge and I look forward to getting better at that position, if that is what my position is going to be.
Q: Are you going to be learning other positions when it is not just rookies?
A: Well that could possibly happen as we move on and move forward but it would be smart that I start there. Somewhere, you know, the outside--that is something that I have always done so it wouldn’t be too difficult for me. Start there and get to know everything that happens in the inside and reads and what the difference. It is good to start there that way I learn. If I do move I pretty much know the outside, it is not too hard.
Q: Playing in college you played around a lot of big guys, there is a lot of size talk with you did you feel in place today?
A: As far as today in practice. No I didn’t, no I didn’t feel out of place. Obviously it is not too hard to pick me out and say okay it’s the little guy in the middle. Even if I was on the outside it is not too hard to pick me out. No, I don’t feel out of place. I feel like I have seen the big guys, I have been around, it is almost like it is normal for me to be that guy. When I was in little league I used to be the biggest guy, now it is like switched now I am like the littlest guy. But no I don’t feel out of place being in there with the D-line and other guys that are bigger than me. Like I said I have been there at Oklahoma, it feels pretty normal.
Q: And then is there that incentive to prove people wrong when the pads come on?
A: Right, right. You are always out there to prove yourself and any of the doubters who think you can’t do it. You show your coaches and your teammates first most important. You prove it to them and then you get out there on game day if that may happen you prove it to everybody.
Q: How much do you draw upon that, the want and desire to prove people wrong?
A: Well you know it feels good to prove the doubters wrong. That is just is something, everybody says you can’t, you can’t, you can’t and then you do. Well then you are like why did they always say that. Maybe is it something in them that made them think I can’t do it. But it is all about heart as well. I don’t care the biggest guy on the field has to have heart. That is pretty much where it starts from. If it felt good in high school, and felt good in college to be successful on the field and play against great players and top notch players and be successful that always feels good. That comes from heart and obviously other things and instincts, your talent, your effort as well. But my heart just drives me more than anything.
Q: Fans have compared you to London Fletcher, how much do you know about him and his game?
A: I haven’t watched any of it, I actually haven’t heard him either. How old is he?
Q: Just retired a year or two ago, played here, undersized, undrafted linebacker?
A: Oh okay, yeah I will look him up. But yeah I haven’t looked too much into so I guess I can’t speak on that. I am sure he had a big heart as well for him to be as successful as he was. I mean he had to just be a ball player.
Q: Has anyone talked to you about Sam Mills, another guy for you to look up?
A: No, alright, I’ll look him up.
Q: Like Mike Singletary.
A: Yeah I have heard of him. (Laughs)
Q: What did you know about Buffalo before you got here?
A: The thing I knew about Buffalo was that it is really cold. That is just from the start, not today. It was really good today. Then I saw the 30 for 30, and I am sure you reporters are from here and lived here, you know about the whole four times in a row thing. Man I didn’t know about that, I was like wow, but also said about the team you know that was a great team. To make it four times in a row to the Super Bowl in the NFL that is like, you know what I mean. They didn’t get the job done in the Super Bowl but that was still a great team, that is the one thing I took from it. I mean a lot of history here, a lot of great players have been through here so that is pretty much what I know. And then I guess the buffalo wings, but in my mind I have tasted a great chicken wing how better can it be here. Like I don’t know, I feel like I have had some great chicken wings. What else can you do to a chicken wing, you know what I’m saying. So what place do I need to go to is it Duff’s? Duff’s is where I need to go.
Cardale Jones: Duff’s doesn’t deliver, I was starving last night.
We can take a cab. And then I ask for the buffalo wing that is it?
Q: Chicken Wing.
A: Just chicken wings.
Q: Order them crispy.
A: Order them crispy. Alright well I look forward to that, I will come back and tell you what I thought. But like I said I didn’t think a chicken wing could to much more special. Maybe I am wrong.
Q: Blue cheese not ranch.
A: Okay. I guess I am wrong then. But we will see we may go try it today then and see what and write about it.
Q: Duff’s is a sponsor.
A: Okay then we will do Duff’s then.
DT Adolphus Washington
Q: How was your first exposure to the NFL?
A: I think it went a lot better because I was expecting the worst. So think it went pretty good. I felt like I did pretty well on picking up on the first day installment that they had. I feel like did pretty good at that. Just got to get better at communicating to the other guys and stuff like that. Overall pretty good day.
Q: What were you expecting?
A: I was expecting to go out there, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I was expecting the worst, whatever the worst is.
Q: Like messing up?
A: No, not messing up just running and learning, more than what he had to learn. I was expecting to be…
A: Yes that is exactly what is was, but I wasn’t.
Q: Were you kind of picking the brains of some alumni asking what you should be expecting?
A: Not really. I talked my position coach back at school Coach [Larry] Johnson he was saying the playbooks are this big and all that type of stuff. That kind of, not that I can’t pick it up but I just know the expectation for a professional player. They expect you to be able to, and I was just a little worried. But you know we have been taking it day by day, so I am cool.
Q: You probably know Reggie and Shaq, what are your impressions of being part of the trio drafted one, two, and three?
A: I just think it going to be a group of guys that you know help turn this into a playoff team, into a contender for championships and stuff like that. I have played against Reggie [Ragland] he played great against us in college. I played against Clemson, but I don’t think Shaq [Lawson] was playing at the time. We all three come from great programs and winning programs. So I think we definitely bring that to help the Buffalo Bills.
Q: Are there any similarities to your terminology to what you are going to use here?
A: Not really, but it is kind of the same concept. So it is not really hard to change around words, but it is pretty much the same concepts.
Q: They had you on the edge out there up front your thoughts?
A: Well they actually got me playing kind of tackle and defensive end. So I mean my comfort level is very high. I am okay with that, because I came in with the mindset that I am willing to do or play wherever I need to, to get on the field and contribute.
Q: Have you talked to Marcell or Kyle Williams yet, and how much are you looking forward to working with them?
A: I haven’t talked to them, but I am definitely looking forward to working with them and pick their brains a little bit about being in the NFL and what it takes to be successful in this league and on the field. The guy I have talked to a little bit is Jerel Worthy. Like me and him go back to when I was getting recruited out of high school he was my host at Michigan State. So I kind of know him. Preston [Brown] is from Cincinnati talked to Preston a little bit. That is probably about it.
Q: What is it like having a fellow Buckeye with you?
A: Cardale [Jones], the crazy thing about that is me and Cardale were actually really close at Ohio State. So I won’t be here by myself that is all I know. I have somebody that can help me feel comfortable.
Q: Can you talk about Cardale and how it might work out for him?
A: You know at Ohio State I always thought Cardale [Jones] would be a better quarterback in the NFL and I hope that stays true. Cardale is a smart guy and a great quarterback. He is turning into a great leader. I was hearing some of the guys in the locker room about how he was controlling the huddle and controlling the offense. I was proud to hear because that was one of the things he needed to work on.
Q: What makes you believes he is better off in the NFL?
A: Just his arm, being able to you know make his own reads. Not having a set person to throw the ball to or whatever the case may be in college. I just think he will be a lot better.