Opening Statement: Good morning. Just an injury update to keep you guys in the loop. No change really with Colt Anderson with the foot sprain week-to-week at this point. Marcell Dareus tweaked his hamstring. We’re going through the evaluation and testing it out right now, so we’ll see. At this point, his practice status is up in the air right now, so we’ll see. With that, I’ll open it up.
Q: Practice status for today you mean?
A: For today.
Q: When did [Marcell Darues] do it?
A: Probably the last quarter of practice yesterday.
Q: Obviously you weren’t here last year, but [Marcell Dareus] had injury issues, hamstring and groin type things. I’m just wondering, is it…how did he look in the spring? It seemed like he was fully healthy. I know maybe it’s minor but how disappointing is this right now?
A: Well, it’s really….Any time players miss time, you get concerned. Whether it’s Marcell [Dareus] or anyone else really for that matter. I’m going to stay positive with it and he’s done a great job of being in shape at this point in camp and has really handled things well so we’ll see how this unfolds. At this point, we hope he can get out there this morning but if he can’t, we’re going to attack the treatment the way we would attack any treatment and get him back on the field as quickly as possible.
Q: What have you seen from Marcell [Dareus] in terms of attitude, approach, everything like that since you’ve walked in the door and really since you’ve been here this week?
A: It’s been very positive. He’s done a great job. Credit to him and I think Coach [Mike] Waufle and Coach [Bill] Teerlinck have done a great job and Shone [Gipson] and his staff, the training room has done a phenomenal job and Eric [Ciano] in the strength and conditioning area, they’ve done a nice job. Again, I’m going to go back to what I said a few minutes ago with the way [Dareus] came to camp, the shape he was in. We’ll take it from there and stay aggressive with it and we look forward to getting him back on the field.
Q: I know 29 is not old, but in running back terms for LeSean McCoy, that is getting older. How do you address his age and the amount of touches he gets in training camp? And just to make sure he’s ready for the season without wearing him down?
A: Right, you bring up a good point. We’ve got to be smart and manage his reps through practice and we know what he brings to the table. I was fortunate enough to be around LeSean [McCoy] early in his career. I have first-hand experience of what he brings to the table and going against him when we were apart for the number of years we were. That is something that we have on our radar in terms of his rep count, so we’ve got to be conscious of that moving forward and we will be.
Q: If you go back to when you first were with him in Philadelphia, what have you seen in him in the time that has passed and what do you make of him now?
A: Well you watch a young player at that time come into the league and have success and then I’ve watched him from afar for the last six or so years, the way he’s developed on the field and to get to know him again personally now in Buffalo and watch how both of our careers have come back together, full circle here. We were talking about it yesterday. I’ve enjoyed watching him. You watch the maturity and growth of a young man into a grown man and that’s fun to see. The way he handles things as a pro. He’s had a nice career so far and I enjoy being around him on a daily basis.
Q: What’s a realistic work load in terms of the regular season?
A: We’ll just see, we’ll see what he can handle. Like any player, we’re going to put him in the position to be successful and try to manage the downside and it’s no different with LeSean [McCoy]. Running backs, you love for them to play like LeSean every rep of a game, but that’s not realistic so we’ll see as we move week-to-week.
Q: Do you have a vision for roles for both Jonathan [Williams] and Mike [Tolbert] behind him at running back?
A: It’s early. You talk about roles, I think it’s too early to talk about roles right now. We’re in the third day of training camp and first day of pads, which I’m excited about. Right now, we are trying to put our best foot forward – each and every one of us. Roles will be defined as we get closer and closer to the season. Guys kind of naturally settle into some roles, in particular when we get to the 53. That’ll work itself out.
Q: Gerald Hodges, it looks like there is some level of versatility it looks like you’re hoping to see from him based on the different ways you’ve deployed him here early at camp. Can you speak to what you’re hoping to see from him?
A: He’s done a nice job. He came in the back third of the offseason and did a nice job acclimating himself to our system and really putting the team first, which to me is important and to us is important. He’s played multiple positions, both outside and inside. He’s got more history inside in the 3-4 in San Francisco there. Physical football player there, we do need that attitude on the defense and we’re looking for that not only from him but also other players on the defense and this football team.
Q: It seems like there’s a healthy competition for the nickel cornerback spot. I know there’s competition around the board but Kevon [Seymour] and Leonard [Johnson] are both there, is that the way you see it developing right now?
A: Yes, both of them have done a nice job. You know my history with Leonard [Johnson] in Carolina the last year. I know what he brings to the table. I also feel like I’ve got a pretty good feel for Kevon [Seymour] and love his versatility being able to play inside and outside. Certainly a young player that did some nice things for this team last season.
Q: With Tre’Davious [White], since you talk to him far more than we do, can you just give us your perspective on his sense of awareness? And he’s not assuming anything in terms of his role here, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to have, potentially a pretty large role on your defense. He’s just trying to ring out every last minute that he’s got on the field and the meeting room to be as ready as he can. Can you just maybe give us your perspective on his approach that way?
A: It’s really going back to the research that we did leading up to the draft. Knowing some of the coaches at LSU like we do and we had some background, so we felt good about who he was off the field – the intangibles. That’s an important part of the process as you go through preparing for the draft and credit to the staff down there and the program they have. Credit to Tre [‘Davious White] and the way he’s wired. He does a phenomenal job and a lot of that happens off the field in his preparation and the work ethic and how important this game is to him. He knows he has to earn the right to be on this football team just like the rest of us. That goes for all of us. You see that with the other young players that are out there doing the same. Zay Jones and Dion [Dawkins], they’re out there busting their tails to earn the right to be on this football team and make a large contribution.
Q: Sean, is Lorenzo [Alexander] a guy that you might want to keep a snap count for too because he seems very prideful in special teams and he’s coming off a Pro Bowl year defensively?
A: Yeah, you know you wish you had more Lorenzos. It’s like a cartoon, you know, Bugs Bunny hitting the ball to Bugs Bunny. Lorenzo, what more could you say about an individual? He puts the team first. He wants to play special teams, which he’s a phenomenal special teams player and that really typifies our football team, in terms of unselfish, he’s going to do whatever’s asked, he understands the importance of special teams and how important winning games is. And yet, he had a phenomenal year last year on defense in terms of production. So we’re going to use him, and put him, like the rest of the players, in positions of strength and one of those is attacking the quarterback coming off the football. Once he gets comfortable with the system, the foundation of it, we’ll get a little bit more creative from there. But he is a big part of what we do, from a leadership standpoint one of the big leaders of the football team.
Q: Yesterday we Nathan working in with the second team offense. What has he done to this point to earn that?
A: We’re just looking, we’re looking at things where TJ [Yates] and Nate are rolling in and out and just getting them more reps and a chance to isolate with the second group. He made a couple phenomenal throws yesterday. You know, a smart football player, its’ important to him. You see that it matters to him that when things go well and when things don’t go well. The part I loved yesterday was he had a play that didn’t go well and he came back and was mentally tough and put the ball right on the numbers the next time. That’s the type of maturity, that’s the type of mental approach that’s important to have in this game and at the quarterback position, specifically.
Q: Would you put it out question him even winning that backup job?
A: That’s too early to tell at this point.
Q: I’m not saying you have to proclaim it now. I’m just like--
A: Everyone has to earn their spot. We evaluate every rep. We’ll just see how he progresses.
Q: A lot is expected of Shaq Lawson this year. I know it’s just two days into camp, but what have you thought about his start? And now that the pads are on is that a chance for a guy like him to show what he can do?
A: Yeah, this has all been touch football up this point in time, right? Today the truth serum is on the table because the pads come on. You want to be patient with the evaluation this time just because it’s been to this point two-hand touch like I mentioned. With respect to Shaq, I think he’s done a phenomenal job, you know. You wish he had all of last season under his belt. He has the injury there and the challenge, but the way he’s attacked that, the way he’s attacked the offseason and I like what he and Jerry [Hughes] are doing on the opposite sides of each other. They’re coming off the ball well, they’re aggressive. With the system, he’s getting a feel for the system and those two are fun to watch. Those guys are coming off the ball with a lot of twitch and when you can do that up front, that sets the tone for everything else behind it.
Q: Do you keep this in mind that he [Shaq Lawson] missed this last season?
A: Well, when you look at the-- you have to keep it in perspective on things. I mean you could say the same thing for Reggie [Ragland], Reggie missed the whole season pretty much last year. So, all of this is new for Reggie. For Shaq, half of it’s new. You do have to keep that in mind that as a young player develops, he’s someway six months into wearing the helmet at this point
Q: Do you see benefits for Shaq, playing alongside with some of the more tenured portion of your defense with Kyle [Williams] and Jerry [Hughes] down there. Does the experience they have help acclimate him?
A: That’s huge because as coaches we can talk in the meeting room. What’s important is the other level of teaching the other level of wisdom that comes from older players in the positon. You mentioned, Kyle and Jerry. That’s important at every position. So, as we build this roster, we’ve tried to do that at different positions. As you’ve seen Lorenzo [Alexander] in the linebacker room. And not only from a wisdom standpoint, but also a leadership standpoint. What happens in the season, the highs and lows, that’s important for me and our locker room as well.
Q: Philosophically, other than weekly game planning, how much of your defense do you want to have in by let’s say halfway through camp, all way through camp or is it all in now and just kind of doing certain pieces here and there?
A: I would say most of it’s in. The way we handle the spring is we put it all in and this right now is just going back through it and the same basically, order, in terms of the installation. Some of it we leave, it’s kind of acquitted to boulders and rocks and pebbles. So the boulders and rocks will be in and then the pebbles come when we show that we’re ready for them in terms of the scheme. We want the players to be able to master the fundamentals and the boulders and the rocks and when we show that we’re ready, get to some of those more granular items on the list.
Courtesy of the Buffalo Bills
DE Shaq Lawson
Q: You came off the field for a little while there, you came right back on. What was going on there?
A: My toe got stepped on. I feel like I’ve been getting my toe stepped on all week so it just got stepped on a little bit, my last three toes. You know how that feels, when you get your pinky toe stepped on.
Q: You were outspoken a little bit in a good way about this switch in the defense in the offseason and what you think it can do for you, playing in a 4-3. Has it been good for you so far, playing in a 4-3 versus last year?
A: Oh yes sir, it’s been great. Starting off great count but from this year to last year, even though I was hurt I was still having a tough time trying to learn the 3-4. This year is easier, [I’m] understanding [it more] and there’s only one thing to do – play attack.
Q: Were you able to turn it up today? First day in pads, first day close to real football, just being able to let it loose.
A: It feels good to put the pads on and see where everyone is at. First day of pads is kind of rusty because you haven’t had pads on since we played the Jets. I was kind of rusty but we got out there, the defense kind of started out slow but we picked up and had a great practice at the end.
Q: Are you leaner? Because you look a little quicker out of your stance. Are you trimmer? Maybe just give us your body composition here.
A: I’m leaner. I was kind of the same weight last year. I actually lost a lot of fat and put a lot of muscle on. I’m about 267-268, that’s my range. Last year I was probably like 275.
Q: But its better weight now is what you’re saying?
A: Better weight, better weight.
Q: What did you play your last year at Clemson?
A: My last year at Clemson, I played like 280-285.
Q: Your spin move today, it looks like you like to go to that. I don’t want to give away your bag of tricks here, but is that kind of one of your go-to’s or what do you feel most comfortable executing?
A: That was my go-to in college. I just really got back to it and started with it this offseason. I feel a lot more comfortable doing it so I had to try it out today and I actually tried it out yesterday in team. I feel like I’ve got the spin move back but other than that, it’s just basically me working on [other moves] this offseason, working on my pass rush and adding more to my game, [like] power.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander
Q: This year are you going with no rep count? I know last year they wanted to limit you on special teams but you take so much pride in that.
A: This year, I think we’ll be a little bit smarter. I probably won’t be on punt return. Last year, I did three of the four but I still want to be on punt and kickoff coverage as much as possible. Even though I’m prideful about it, I want to be smart about it as well and I want to be put in a place that’s most helpful for the team. I want to be out there. If it’s bad for the team, I won’t do it but if it’s the best thing for the team, I want to do it.
Q: You’ve lined up in a lot of different spots in a lot of different defenses in your career. Obviously, this is a very different role compared to last year. Can you just compare and contrast what you’re doing now?
A: I think the biggest thing is just your perspective of when you’re playing the run. I’m off the ball, I have keys, I got a lot more vision in front of me, I’m looking at the weak-side fullback, the weak-side guard, the front-side guard – there’s a lot more vision that’s in my perception. I just got to be disciplined with my eyes versus being on the edge – I’m just looking at the end of the line of scrimmage and trying to destroy him. So that’s probably the biggest difference. Luckily, back in 2012 and 2011, I played behind London Fletcher, one of the best that ever did it and I learned a lot from him. So I’m pulling a lot of those notes out, a lot of memorization back out and just try to apply it now and get better each and every day.
Q: Clearly, it’s a role that you feel comfortable in and when you re-signed here, you wouldn’t have if you didn’t.
A: Right. No, not at all. Playing in space is what you do on special teams and that’s probably even harder because you’re running full-tilt and you’ve got this guy that runs a 4.2 running full tilt making plays on that. At least I know where my help is. I got help out here [and] it’s easy to play once you understand that. You can play fast and play physical.
Q: As one of the leaders in the linebacker unit, just your thoughts on the competition between Reggie [Ragland] and Preston [Brown], and how they’re looking?
A: It’s still early. Obviously, Preston is a guy that’s proven in this league. Reggie is coming off an injury and trying to work his way back into it, but it’s a healthy competition. Everybody’s helping each other and everybody’s continuing to get better each and every day. We want to continue to set a standard of being the best in the league as far as a linebacker corps and we’re going to have to do that by committee. I always say ‘starter is just a title,’ because everybody’s going to play in this defense. There are packages and different skill sets that different people are great at. So whoever is the starter, it’s just a title and you have to learn how to contribute and learn your role. Don’t be settled with your role, but you have to embrace it.
Q: How was it to get pads on for the first time today?
A: I love it, because this is where you start separating yourselves. All of that ‘soccer’ that we’ve been doing before is now real football to me so this is really where you can really be physical, set the edge, and really come downhill. And this is really where you start establishing the football team and the identity of being a physical and fast team because some guys don’t like contact. Some guys relish in it, and that’s what I like to see. I just love the contact of the game.