Head Coach Sean McDermott
Opening Statement: Just a couple updates here on practice: You guys know, pretty much, the guys that are out. Just trying to hit any guys that you may have in question. Micah Hyde will be day-to-day. I think most of you are aware already that Charles Clay had a death in the family. Certainly, keep Charles and his family in our thoughts and prayers and we look forward to getting him back. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.
Q: What is Micah’s injury?
A: He has a couple things going on. Just overall soreness pretty much. He has a little knee, but we hope...It looks like with the improvement he made over the last couple days we are headed in the right direction.
Q: Him and Clay won’t practice today. In addition to [Ramon] Humber and [Jordan] Matthews, what about Shaq [Lawson]?
A: Shaq will be limited today.
Q: Have Eric Wood and Kyle Williams reminded the team what happened last time they went to Cincinnati when they were the talk of the NFL?
A: They have remined the team. The great part about this team is we have a ton of leaders on this team that make their presence known in and around the building and in the locker room in particular. They lead by example, and then verbally as well. Those guys have made it very clear what it was like years ago, when the team had a good start and then stayed focused on the process.
Q: Could you tell us why you brought Philly Brown back?
A: First of all, I want to make this known, we have confidence in the guys in our receiving room. Philly is a guy that played in games. He knows the system. He knows what we are looking for. He knows what it is like to play in big games. For all those reasons, we thought it was the right time and we’ll take a look at him today and see how he looks here.
Q: How about E.J. Gaines for practice today as well?
Q: How limited are you now given your situation bringing Philly back? How limited are you in the passing game at this point? Losing a guy like Jordan, he was your veteran guy, at least for a couple of weeks?
A: It is never easy to lose a player, any player, but also a player of that quality and caliber with Jordan Matthews. We are not limited. We move forward and that is what good teams do. It is a next man up approach and I expect whoever that next man is, in this case at the wide receiver position, to step up and do his job.
Q: Speaking of the passing game, how important is it do you think for the success that you have had, which hasn’t been a whole lot of passing, but whatever you have had you have incorporated play action. More than we have seen around here for a whole while. How important is that for Tyrod [Taylor] to have that?
A: That has been huge. That goes right along with the running game. With my defensive background, I know how tough that is in order to diagnose the run and then the play action that comes off of it. That is tough to handle defensively, so it’s important that we continue to do that, continue to play our style football, in all three phases really.
Q: Stephen Hauschka, in the second straight week, is the AFC special teams player of the week. When you signed him and brought him on board, is this what you anticipated knowing you have a guy that can knock in 50 + on a regular basis?
A: I think Danny Crossman does a great job of knowing his phase of the ball. We went through it in the off season. Danny identified Stephen as a player that fit us. Certainly, the conditions that we play in here, it was important that we had a leg like the type that Stephen has. Just the rapport he has been able to build up with Colton [Schmidt] and Reid [Ferguson] and how important that triangle is in the operation. He is kicking well right now and it’s good to see. It is really good to see and that’s a guy that spent a long time in one place, and maybe totally wasn’t in their plans like a lot of us in this building. That is what our team is all about. Guys that embrace that underdog role.
Q: The play that E.J. [Gaines] got hurt, he also caused a fumble and creates two steps later. Can you kind of speak to the effort that something like that takes, and what says to the rest of the group that was watching?
A: That is awesome that you noticed that. It is again, no different with Stephen, underdog role. Our guys, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate, how much the coaches appreciate, everyone in this building appreciates, the way that they battle and how hard they play. We had a couple other guys that did get hurt in the game, in addition to E.J., that went out and tried to play more. They were either able to do it and finish the game in some of their cases, or in other cases they weren’t able to finish the game but they went back and tried. That doesn’t happen everywhere and for that, I am forever grateful. It just is to me, a sign of the toughness, and the work ethic of these guys and the belief that every game is winnable, at any moment in the game.
Q: Do you think any defensive player in this league has played better than Jerry Hughes in the first quarter of the season?
A: I don’t know. I don’t spend a lot of time looking around the league. I know how Jerry’s played and he has been phenomenal. He’s been coming off the ball, he has been doing little things. It is easy to say, well I don’t want to say it is easy, to be a one-dimensional player and get numbers and all those things. He has bought into the system, being one eleventh of the defense. He plays the run extremely well and from a complete player standpoint. I don’t know if you are going to find a player right now that has played better in that regard.
Q: As a follow up to that, your system and how it’s really taken hold with the types of players you have in there, Jerry an example, but it seems like with Eddie Yarbrough, with [Ryan] Davis, with Cedric [Thornton]. There’s a sense here that with the way you change things up and rotate, it isn’t just about fresh bodies, there’s a style, and it seems this week, an opponent that does a lot of short, intermediate stuff, having those lineman who are that flexible athletically matters. Would that be the case and give me a sense of what the philosophy is of this line play now versus what it had been?
A: I can’t really comment on what it had been, I know how we play, how this system expects, philosophically, our lineman to play and that’s hard. Good defenses, in my opinion, and our philosophy’s opinion, are a direct result of line play. Similarly, on the other side of the ball, good offenses are a direct result of offensive line play. That’s what we believe. With the work that they do through the week, the results are not a mistake, they’re not by accident, I guess I should say. The Eddie Yarbrough’s, the Ryan Davis’, these guys are not household names and we realize that, but they’re in our house and that’s what’s important. We appreciate everything in what they do to prepare to play well.
Q: One more on Jerry Hughes, when you first came in and you met these guys for your one-on-ones, it’s no secret, the last two years for him, he was not really in a system that fit him too well. He did what he had to do, but when you met him, did you get a sense right away [that] he was really happy to see you, knowing the system you play?
A: I don’t know, I was happy to meet him. That’s probably a better question for him on the other end of that. He was a player I knew coming out of college, a lot of us knew coming out of college, out of TCU and what he was able to do. You know the ability, but we had to turn the tape on to look a little closer at how he was used or wasn’t used in certain situations. I’m happy now that he’s perhaps in a system that would allow him to be the best version of himself, just like the rest of our players.
Q: [Jerry Hughes] said he had a chip on his shoulder in June, do you think that characterizes this whole defensive group?
A: I would say our whole team. I remember as you mentioned June, with Jerry, he was one of the first ones in every morning. You evaluate a lot of things, not only what’s going on on the tape that we turned on, but also what’s going right in front of you. I’ll say the same thing for Tyrod [Taylor], as you guys have heard me talk about at length, with the work ethic, and getting himself healthy again. Same thing with Jerry, there are some guys that were in here before the sun came up. That’s what life’s all about, that’s what this team is all about. Guys that work hard and put the time in, good things come to good people who work hard.
Q: What level of addiction have you sensed from players about the process this week?
A: We’ll see, we’re growing, that in of itself is a process. We have to continue to grow, and trend in this (points up) direction. Some things are seen on the surface, some aren’t. That said, some of our works are seen on the surface and some aren’t. We have to make sure that we get those corrected, and be addicted to those rather than patting ourselves on the back for anything we’ve done at this point.
Q: How would you assess the play of the offensive line in the first month of the season?
A: I think they’re growing just like our team. There’s some really good moments, and then there are some moments where we didn’t play as well as we could’ve or we didn’t put a team away when we should have. We have to continue to look at everything of this football team. I’m looking for us to control the line of scrimmage, that’s highly important when you want to play good quality playoff caliber football, and protect the quarterback at the same time. We can’t end up in third and long situations, and we’ve done that entirely too much to this point.
Q: How do you feel they’ve responded in times when you or Rick [Dennison], or just the game situation has challenged them to step up?
A: I think they’ve risen to the challenge in those situations. You go back and you look at the fourth quarter of the Jets game, fourth quarter of the Denver game, fourth quarter of the Atlanta game, and the 19-play drive, the drive in Denver that got us into basically a four-minute situation. That’s who we can be and that’s a mindset, that’s an identity, and that’s the attitude we need and we’re looking for.
Q: What do you think it’ll take to get over that hump with running the ball to the level, you set a really high standard out of the gate, and obviously, haven’t really come all that close since. You ran and were persistent last game, but what about effectiveness to the level you’re looking for?
A: Well hard work. Hard work.
Q: The Bengals look like they’ve played pretty good outside of the game against Aaron Rogers. They play pretty good defense in all their games, what are you seeing that’s going to create some trouble this week with that defense?
A: This is a team that’s been to the playoffs the last ‘x’ amount of years and this is a good football team. Anyone who looks at a record at this point in the season is making a huge mistake. They’re lead obviously by what they do defensively, Coach [Paul] Guenther does a heck of a job of putting his players in position, they do a lot pressure-wise, they do a lot disguise-wise. They’re fairly similar to our defense with some of the things that they do, they have really strong personnel. This will be a big challenge for us offensively going against that defense as you mentioned. Going back to what Vic [Carruci] mentioned, we need to be able to run the football, we need to be able to control the line of scrimmage as was mentioned earlier. Communication will be key, with all the different looks that we’re presented with, in a hostile environment, that we can all be on the same page across the board offensively.
Q: How did Marcell [Dareus] shake out after that game? I know you said it was both rotational and injury. How did the ankle do?
A: Right. I think we moved in the right direction. He continues to get the treatment he needs to get at this point and taking care of the business off the field with respect to the treatment. I think we’re trending in the right direction.
Q: Do you expect him to ramp up a little bit this week?
A: Yeah, we’ll see. You hope second week back, as opposed to the first, you’d think logically that would make sense. We’ll just see. I won’t know until we get on the field a little bit more here.
Q: To that point about the types of athletes you have up front and fitting the way you do things and, like you said, forget about whatever happened beforehand. Is it fair to say that a space-eater guy might not be as integral as those quicker players and those more versatile athletes that may be on your roster? We talked about Yarbrough, Davis, the ‘no-names,’ but is that fair, too, in terms of your calculations of who to put in there [and] when to put them in there?
A: I thought you were talking the offensive side. But defensively –
Q: No, the defensive side.
A: You know, it’s really who can get the job done. There’s things we look for, the measurable, where you say ‘hey, is the chin over the bar that there’s not going to be a fatal flaw,’ and then you go to the character and that type of formula, as you guys have heard me talk about. I keep repeating myself, I know, but that’s what we philosophically believe in and how hard those guys play. It’s how they all fit together, really. Just like our team, how it all fits together. A lot of things look good on paper, but it’s got to fit together and I think that’s true of our football team, if things fit together, when you’re building any team, that’s the important part. Guys understand their roles and they put the work in.
Q: I know you have a rotation along the defensive line, but there’s also some symbolism to who starts the game and who’s listed as a starter. How fair would it be to call Cedric [Thornton] the starter, or is there still a chance that Marcell takes that back this week?
A: Right. There’s great competition on our roster right now and I love that and the players want that. That’s why they work during the week. They understand what’s at stake. We’re only going to continue. Competition takes everyone’s game up a notch. That’s good for us.
Q: Your defense has allowed 19 points in the second half of their games, total. What gets the credit for that and what kind of adjustments are you making at halftime, because 5 points a game in the second half is pretty eye popping?
A: Well, I give a lot of credit to the defensive staff. The staff, overall, I think has done a really good job. We’ve only been together a small amount of time and to be able to make appropriate adjustments before it’s too late in a game is key. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job of that. Rick [Dennison], Leslie [Frazier] and Danny [Crossman], all three of those guys and their staffs have done a phenomenal job. Then the players, give them the credit because to make adjustments is one thing, but you have to be able to execute as well in the second half. We’ve done some good things.
Q: Is there a veteran or two in the locker room at halftime on that side of the ball that maybe gives a little more input than others?
A: I don’t know about input but there’s input at each position group, really. You look at Preston [Brown] at the linebacker position and then Kyle [Williams] up front as well as Jerry [Hughes], and then in the secondary with Micah [Hyde] and Jordan [Poyer]. It’s almost by committee when you talk about the emotional end of it, which is also important as well.
Q: What do you know about Matt Milano? Kind of a big spot for him this week as it looks like he’s going to start. He’s one of your guys. You drafted him. Is he ready for this moment?
A: He’s ready. He’s ready and he’ll only get more and more ready as he puts the time in this week, just like our team. I thought he came in on a big stage last week and handled himself well for his first real, live game action. What’s important is where we go from here. I think Matt clearly understands that and then it’s important that we do things around Matt to help him as he continues to grow with his career at this point.
Q: The stats may not be there yet for Zay Jones, but how would you assess where he is both on the field and mentally in his first month as a pro?
A: I’ll tell you what, I love the big catch he made in the third quarter of the game last week. I thought that was huge and that, to me, shows me where he is mentally. That, to me, shows me where he is skill set wise, also. He’s only going to continue to get better. That’s what happens when you work hard and when your mind is in the right spot. I feel good about him and I look forward to watching him grow. The great part about it [is] the rest of our young players. How many other rookies were on the field around the league when you look at, like we had Tre [White], Dion [Dawkins], Matt Milano, Zay Jones, and then you had Tanner [Vallejo] was on the field with special teams. That’s four rookies playing on the field at one time, and then you add Tanner with special teams. That’s a heck of a job. It’s a great job. Credit to those guys for being ready and credit to the staff for having them ready. Just like we always have to do, we have to continue to develop the second layer of our football team and these players, whether it’s young guys or older guys, they’re ready to step up and that’s what we’re counting on.
Q: What makes A.J. Green so hard to defend?
A: Well, you look at the combination of height, weight and speed. His catch radius is phenomenal. He’s an elite receiver and he’s an elite receiver for a reason. He’s been that for a number of years.
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Quarterback Tyrod Taylor
Q: Last week you had 8 shots down the field on 20 attempts. Why the sharp increase from previous weeks?
A: Yes, we thought last week we could push the ball down the field a little more on some of the things they were showing on film throughout the week. We definitely have speed outside, wasn’t able to connect on as many of them as we would have liked to. It’s definitely something to show other teams that we definitely are still trying to push the ball down the field. Taking shots is part of our offense, we just have to continue to keep building and growing with that.
Q: Would you say it’s partly game plan related, but also partly where you want to take the passing game?
Q: Tyrod, you guys have used play action, or more it seems, over the last couple weeks for sure. Just talk about the importance of what that means to this offense when you can successfully use play action?
A: It is definitely a big part of our offense. Showing looks, showing pass looks out of the multiple runs that will show, as well to keeping the defense honest. Over the past four weeks we’ve played a bunch of groups on defense that have fast flowing linebackers. Trying to get those guys to suck up underneath the rush, and try to get something behind those guys.
Q: Why do you think the production of the play action pass is better this year even though the rushing production has been down a little bit with Shady’s [LeSean McCoy] yardage?
A: I can’t really pinpoint why that correlates to one another but getting Shady going is definitely something that we are going to continue to be persistent about. As far as in the play passes, guys are making plays down the field, winning those matchups, taking those challenges and like I, said going out there and winning. We’ve been able to find some areas in the play pass.
Q: What do you see in defenses that still respect the run even though?
A: Absolutely. When Shady is back there, I mean with any of our backs, Shady, Mike T. [Tolbert], Taiwan [Jones], with any of those guys in the back field we have been known to run the football. It is definitely a threat with those guys getting the ball. Having Shady back there definitely opens up things behind the linebackers but, like I said, we definitely have to get Shady going.
Q: Are you concerned that you have to say that right now that you definitely have to get Shady going after three weeks of not seeing him do what he did in week one?
A: No I am not concerned. [We have to] continue to be persistent in our running game. Shady is a great back and our offensive line is doing a great job, growing each week. We’ll continue to keep, like I said, continue to keep being persistent and he’ll bust a couple of those runs out. It’s going to be big for our offense.
Q: How will not having Jordan [Matthews] affect what you’re trying to do?
A: Losing a guy like Jordan for a couple weeks definitely hurts our team, but at the same time we have guys in that wide receiver room that are looking forward to the challenge to step up and make those plays. I have 100 percent trust and confidence in those guys to go out there and make plays.
Q: Sean [McDermott] said that the older guys reminded him of what happened six years ago when they were unbeaten going into Cincinnati. Does that get your attention? Does this team need that kind of reminder?
A: No, that doesn’t necessarily get my attention. The past teams are the past teams, all we can do at this point is learn from it. My focus, week in and week out, has got to be on the opponent that we’re facing, and this week that’s Cincinnati, a very capable team, a very good team. We have to put all [of] our effort and our energy and our focus into preparing our butts off and going out there and playing on Sunday.
Q: How important is it when a guy like Zay [Jones] might be pressing a little bit, he doesn’t come up with a couple plays, you guys don’t connect on a couple things here or there that maybe you could, for you to keep going back to him, like you did. I mean he had the big catch, obviously, on the sideline. How important is that, though, to show that you still have faith in him?
A: Very important. I’m not going to be perfect, he’s not going to be perfect, but the main thing is that we continue to keep pressing forward, and continue to keep believing in one another. I have all the confidence in the world in Zay, he’s a great player, a great talent, wants to learn, wants to be the greatest. I’m going to continue to keep giving him opportunities, and he’s going to continue to keep playing well.
Q: Tyrod, I mean Jordan gets hurt. Were you glad that at least they replaced him with a guy [Philly Brown] you know? Is that going to help at a smoother transition this week if he’s part of the game plan?
A: That definitely helps our team. A guy that’s known this offense, had success with it in the preseason, a guy that’s not going to come in and have to learn from first day install. Him having a knowledge of the playbook definitely helps speed up the process. Just got to stay after practice throughout the week and talk through some things, get on the same page mentally and chemistry wise with him.
Q: Tyrod, do you guys, you know, no points in the first quarter this year, have you guys dissected maybe why, it might just be an anomaly, but why that’s happened through the first four games?
A: No, I actually didn’t know that until you just said it. Definitely something that we have to be better at, coming out and starting faster, getting those points on the board. It’s been limited possessions a couple of those games, but we have to be better at that. Finishing strong and starting fast as well.
Q: Tyrod, how much of this team thrives on playing that underdog role, plays into the chip on their shoulder mentality and uses that as motivation?
A: Everyone in that locker room, I would say, plays with a chip on their shoulder. It’s something that we have to prove each and every week. 3-1 right now, but that doesn’t necessarily change our mindset. We’re continuing to keep grinding away, focusing on our fundamentals and just keeping that hungry attitude each week as we approach game days on Sundays.
Q: When you look at Cincinnati’s defense, what unit or what area concerns you the most? What sticks out to you on film, maybe?
A: Overall, they have a very good defensive team; they’ve been together on the defensive side for a while now. Of course, their front seven is definitely a strong group, physical group and they have confident DBs on the back end. It’s definitely going to boil down to our execution and us going out there and being the more physical team.
Q: How big of a step was it going into Atlanta last week on the road, and beat that team, you have a team on the road again this week, the step you guys took last week by winning that game on the road?
A: That was a big step for this team. Everything didn’t go perfect in that game, but we were able to find a way to pull it out and come out with a W. That’s behind us now, we’ll learn from it, but like I said, all [of] our energy and our focus is going in towards preparing for Cincinnati right now.
Q: Is it even possible for this team, for a second, to just drop its guard after two big wins?
A: Not at all, and that’s one of the things that Coach McDermott preaches to us each and every day, is just our consistent approach. Trusting the process, not making one game bigger than the other. We’ll continue to keep preparing the way that we do. We’re going to continue to keep practicing the way that we do, and we’ve just got to continue to keep pounding away day by day, focusing on getting better than we were the week before and the day before.
Q: Dion [Dawkins] has two starts now under his belt. What have you seen in his development in watching film back the last two weeks?
A: He’s getting more confidence the more he plays. He’s been up against a number of good guys the past two weeks. He’s going to keep challenging each and every week, but he’s gaining more and more confidence and he’s looking good out there.
Q: Tyrod, change and injuries at the wide receiver position. Nothing new in previous years that you’ve dealt with. How much has that held back or affected your growth as a quarterback?
A: Injuries in this league happen. Unfortunately, it’s to a very good receiver on our team now and we have other injuries as well. As far as affecting me, I have to go out there and make plays with whoever’s out there. Like I said, I have confidence in those guys in the receiver room. Guys are willing to step up and take the challenge. Yes, we miss Jordan, but it’s not going to be the end of the world, either. He’ll be back and we’ll be better as a unit once he comes back.
Q: Charles Clay is on pace to double his production from last season, so what has been different for him this year?
A: I would say, definitely, me going to him more in some of the one-on-one matchups and taking advantage of those. I tried to over the past couple of years. Probably did more of it towards the end of last season than the beginning part of it, but [I] just trust him to make those plays and we’ve been on the same page and he’s going out there and playing at a high level.
Q: How much has he benefitted, obviously, he’s probably done better, but just from losing Sammy Watkins and not having that target on the upside?
A: I wouldn’t say Sammy took away from his targets. Like I said, it’s more so just me growing with Charles, us growing with each other going into year three of playing with each other. Knowing what he does well and me just trusting that he’s going to go out there and make that play.
Q: Tyrod, does it still mean anything to you when you see on the schedule a quarterback coming up that was in your draft class? I know you had Cam [Newton], you beat [Andy] Dalton last year. Do you feel anything about that at all?
A: Yes, on the personal side, definitely. But I don’t let that affect my approach going into the week. I always will remember draft day. It’s something that drives me, so definitely.
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WR Zay Jones
Q: LeSean said that he talked to you a little but about just maintaining your confidence, keeping it going. Rookies all go through ups and downs, especially rookies. In fact he said eight year veterans do it too. Are there guys that reached out to you and kind of said that?
A: Numerous people have. This is not something that just happens to me or you know, like dude it’s football. At the end of the day it’s hard. This is the National Football League. If it was easy everyone would be out there catching passes. This is not something you just roll the ball out and do, it’s going to take time. People have come to me and said you need to do this and you need to do that and I’m like I get it. I’m going to do better, I’m going to catch ball and I’m going to do my thing. But I asked people did you know who I was my freshman year of college? Usually the response is no. It took time for me to develop and become one of the best. I know I’m going to play in this league for a long time and I know I’m going to do well in this league. I’ve got great support around me. Shady [LeSean McCoy] is one of the guys I talk to and he was like “man just keep doing your thing, everyone believes in you, everyone’s confident in you.” There is a lot of outside noise but I really could care less.
Q: That kind of falls into this team as whole seems to have a chip on their shoulder. I mean people doubting them, is that something you in particular feed off of?
A: I mean, there is so much. People [said] that we suck a few weeks ago, now everyone’s like “oh the Bills are good.” You have to take everything with a grain of salt and not really take all that in. In house, we have process and we know what we have. We are a damn good football team. We have great players on this team, we have unbelievable coaches doing the great things day in and day out. I’m trusting them 100 percent. Our focus is the Cincinnati Bengals and what we need to do to win and get it done.
Q: How much does it mean to you that no matter if things goes your way or not, no matter how that happens, on a pass Tyrod [Taylor] keeps coming to you?
A: Yeah, it’s just like life. Some things go your way, some things don’t. You have to wake up every day and keep working. I am no longer going to get discouraged by what people say or what people might think. I understand that now. Did you see the Yankees’ pitcher?
Q: Yeah, I did. I’m a Yankees’ fan.
A: I am sure he is an unbelievable athlete and he’ll be back pitching, pitching his ass off. There is going to be ups and downs, but you just have to keep on going.
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RB LeSean McCoy
Q: LeSean, Coach [Sean McDermott] talked about the whole team having a chip on his shoulder. When we came in the locker room after the game, obviously, you were a little bit fired up because people had been doubting you guys. How do you go from that, to knowing now that you guys are going to be expected to win more games and keeping that fire going I guess you could say and keeping that lit?
A: Just the same attitude that we have been playing with since camp. Each week is a new team, with the same attitude, [we] prepare well, [and] respect all your opponents. Just have to get it done, find ways on defense, special teams, and offense.
Q: Is there a concern that Sean talked about on Monday, about this team handling winning? You know this is something this team hasn’t had to deal with within the last two years for a lot of reason.
A: Well the season is still early. I mean we are only going into the fifth game. Nobody gets crowned or [are] champs in five games. We just have to stay with it. Like I said before, just preparing well, and getting it done. Executing, minimizing all our mistakes during the game and just play ball. It’s so early in the year to kind of crown anybody, we just have to finish out.
Q: After the Denver game and the Carolina game you talked a lot about not winning a certain amount of one-on-one battles. It looked like you did that a little bit more last week. Do you feel like you are getting a little closer to what you did Week 1?
A: Well we’re getting there. We play a lot better I think running the ball, but still not to the way we run the ball [over] the last two years. We’ll stay at it, I’ll getting going even more and we’ll see, we’ll see this weekend.
Q: Where has that put you mentally, not exactly being at the same level like you said but the team winning?
A: Obviously, everybody wants to play well and they want to put the numbers up but we’re winning games. I am still excited as much as [if] the normal numbers were [there] to win. But that is the type of competitor I am, I want to compete and I want to get it going. We will, it’s early in the year. We’ll plug at it, stay at it and we’ll get it going.
Q: How much easier is it to have a kicker like you do, where as an offense you know you don’t have to get to the 30, you can get to the 35 or 40 and be in field goal range?
A: Yeah, well plus me being here over the years, we’ve had drives and we needed kicks to be made and they [were] missed, where it kind of helped us out to win games. I think this year we have that kicker. He [Stephen Hauschka] is executing for us, getting us out of jams, driving the ball on long drives and him bailing us out, but you need that. I think good teams have a good kicking game. All points matter.
Q: Speaking of points LeSean, this might be just a quirk after four games but you guys haven’t scored in the first quarter yet. Last week you have a thirteen-play drive right off the bat there but you guys had to punt it at the 40, have you guys thought about dissecting why it is that you can’t get those points early?
A: Yeah, no I am not sure. This is something we have to focus on. Just finishing drives that has kind of been our issue. I haven’t gotten in the end zone yet either. So just getting in the end zone, finishing drives, and putting some points up.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Patrick [DiMarco] and the job he did on Sunday, especially that long drive?
A: Yeah, he’s been doing good, kind of rewarded him for his good blocking, gave him a little hand off. Pat, he’s a hard worker. You could tell he plays with a lot of heart. We ask him to do a lot of different things and he does them very well. Happy to have him on board.
Q: You brought up that you haven’t got in the end zone yet this year. Obviously, it’s something you must be thinking about, at least a little bit. Do you feel like it’s one of those deals where, maybe you get one and then you get two, and three, and they start to stack up?
A: Yeah, I mean they come in bunches. The way it plays out, you’re lucky to get three of them in a game, two in a game. That first one, that first game, that first touchdown, yard, they all kind of roll together. Just have to get over that, get level, man, and get it going.
Q: First four weeks, LeSean, you’ve faced some fast flow defenses. Would you put this Cincinnati defense in that category, or are they a little bit different?
A: I think they’re a good defense. I think the last couple weeks we played some of the better defensive teams in the league, but they’re in that category. They’re an aggressive group, lanky, tall. Over the years, they’ve been a good defense. I think the last two years, we’ve faced them, so we know what they’re all about. It’ll be a good matchup for us.
Q: With Jordan [Matthews] going down, another loss in the receiving core, is there a heightened sense of urgency that the running game needs to get going?
A: Yeah, I think we’ll run the ball even more now with Jordan being out, but [it’s an] opportunity for guys to step up, make a name for themselves, potentially get more out balls, more opportunities to catch the ball. It’s one thing about when guys go down, it gives the next guy opportunity.
Q: How do you think Tyrod did turning his running back in the passing game after his press conference last week?
A: (Joking) He could do a better job of that, for sure.
Q: A guy like Zay [Jones], who’s had ups and downs early in his career, what type of advice have you reached out and given him?
A: Yeah, you know, we’ve talked. I told him, like, even nine years, eight years in the league, there’s times where I start to pace if I’m not playing well because the expectation level is so high. Certain players, they don’t feel like that. Certain players have a solid game, and they’re content with that. Good thing with Zay, he’s not like that. We share that same passion, so I’ve been telling him ‘keep at it’. If he wasn’t no good, they would go in another direction. I think he has a lot of potential, he has a lot of talent, so just stay with it. You’ve got to block out the media, got to block out friends and family, even negative opinions, because you’ll get that. The same ones will give you credit when you do good. It’s hard for a young kid, because in college, they’re used to being the guy on campus, the teachers love him, you know etcetera, etcetera. That’s probably his biggest issue, maybe the Twitter comments and stuff like that. He’s young, and he’s a good player. He’ll have his chance to keep making up for it in different opportunities.
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DE Eddie Yarbrough
Q: First of all, [Sean] McDermott kind of gave you a shout out as one of these guys that he’s really kind of kept an eye on. That has to feel good for you to know that you’re obviously doing work with the head coaches and the coaching staff really points to you as a guy they can depend on.
A: It’s funny, that’s the first time I’ve even heard of that. I don’t check anything media-wise or what’s online, I don’t look at the interviews, I don’t look at anything. That is the first time I’ve heard this, so yeah, that’s awesome to hear. Glad to be contributing and getting a little shout-out, that’s cool.
Q: How good is Jerry Hughes playing right now?
A: To put it in words, I’d say ‘out of his body’ I’d say. Even this last Sunday, when I was looking at the other side, I’m like ‘I got a great get off, get this, get that,’ and I’m looking, I’m running back there and Jerry’s already back there and made the play and I’m like “Okay, Jerry.” He shows up every single practice, every single game, and it’s really been fun to watch.
Q: What part of his game jumps out to you, and you maybe try to mold yourself after?
A: I would say his low pad level and his intensity on every play. Every movement, it’s everything that he has. I try to incorporate that to my game personally. He’s perfected it, he’s playing really good ball right now.
Q: Micah [Hyde] was saying that you guys are kind of a group of misfits. You guys are once again the underdogs; you know the underdog role yourself. Do you think that the team is kind of rallying around that?
A: Oh yeah, 100-percent. We’re the, like you said, kind of the Motley crew. We definitely embrace that, and, hey, some of us are the guys that nobody wanted, but we’re making statements and we’re out here to prove people wrong, so excited for the opportunity.
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DT Marcell Dareus
Q: What does the competition part mean to you? Do you feel each week that you have to compete?
A: I wouldn’t feel right knowing that the guy that I’m playing with that’s playing the same position as me, isn’t trying his best and doing the best he can just as well as I am. We’re all out there trying to be the best to help the team. Like I was saying and what [Sean] McDermott has been preaching to us from day one. We are 1/11th. We want everyone to own up to what their position is and what their role is and do the best you can at it no matter if you are a starter or a backup.
Q: Would you want to see more, you had 22 snaps this past week, lower than anybody else on defense. What is your thought about going forward from that?
A: Honestly, I’m trying to keep my mind clear and focused on the plays ahead, focused on the big games ahead. I have one job and it’s to do the best I can at that. He has a solid plan on what he wants, what he has for this team, what he has for me and everyone else across the front, the whole defense and offense. I know he has a plan for the future, he has a plan for this game coming up. We’re just focusing on playing one game at a time.
Q: What kind of an adjustment has it been for you though, to get used to not playing as many snaps as your accustomed to?
A: Injuries occur. I am doing the best I can to play through them and McDermott, he understands. He’s fully aware as I want to play, he needs me to play, he wants me to play. We are doing the best we can in the training room, doing whatever we have to do to get out there and play the best possible.
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LB Preston Brown
Q: What’s it going to be like for you going back home again two years in a row here to play?
A: It’s always fun to go back home, and it’s even better when you get a win. We’ve got to out there and handle our business Sunday, a victory is sweet.
Q: Preston, what challenges does this Bengals’ offense bring?
A: I mean, they have a lot of challenges. Everybody knows they have A.J. Green, a guy that can take the top off a defense. They got [Brandon] LaFell who does a lot of things underneath. They got number 12 [Alex Erickson], a guy from Pittsburgh [Tyler Boyd], a lot of weapons, the three-headed monster running back [as well]. They’re doing a lot of things well, as soon as they got a new offensive coordinator [Bill Lazor], they’ve been scoring a lot more points. You have to take the first two games out of it, and just watch what they’ve been doing the last two.
Q: I was going to say, how important is it not to overlook them, given the fact that they are only 1-3?
A: Yeah, I mean they had Green Bay on the ropes, and they did a great job against Cleveland. We know they’ve been moving the ball a lot better now with a new OC, they’ve been doing things well. We just got to go out there and play good because their defense is good as well.
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K Stephen Hauschka
Q: Is it fun to hit from 55 plus, or whatever? Is it like someone hitting a 300-yard drive or a long home run where you kind of watch it a little bit?
A: Yeah, it’s fun to be out there. The crowd’s yelling, it’s a position I want to be in, this is what I trained for. This is my job, I love it.
Q: Is it different for you? Do you do anything different when it comes to a 50 plus kick, a longer kick? Is there a different angle, a different approach?
A: No, not really, it’s the same thing.
Q: Obviously, they’ve got to come off a little bit lower though. How do you compensate and think about, obviously, the lower, the more chance for a block, things like that? Does that ever go through your head, something like that?
A: I don’t think they necessarily come off lower, I think that’s maybe outside of 60 yards you might have to drive a little bit, but I think from that distance, I don’t think it comes off lower.
Q: Your nickname, Hausch-money, what do you think of that?
A: Yeah, I like it. I’ve had that for a little while. Yeah, it’s awesome that it’s come to Buffalo now.
Q: Do you feel like a more important part of a, you know, people always talk about, when you hear about the kicker being described as ‘not even a real football player’. This team, considering the defense first mentality, you were the difference literally the last game, you kicked four in the game before that. Do you feel like a more important part of the team than a normal kicker would be?
A: Not at all, I think I understand. I’ve been around it, I’ve seen the ebbs and flows of the season. The games are going to go different directions, and next week, it’ll probably be another player on the team that you guys are talking to, so I get that. I’m just happy to do my job, whatever that entails each week.
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C Eric Wood
Q: I think ESPN power rankings have you 16th and behind all the teams you beat, so maybe they’re not that crazy about you. But, you’re not getting a lot of credit, does it seem that way?
A: Yeah, I mean a little bit but that’s fine. I probably pay attention to the media a little less now at this point in my career than I did then. I might not notice as much now, but it doesn’t feel like it did that year at this point.
Q: Is there a group guys that kind of embraces that underdog role and that chip-on-your-should kind of role?
A: Yeah, but I honestly feel like this group of guys, we have a really consistent group of guys on this team, where I don’t feel like it would make a huge difference, like within week to week effort if we were 1-3 or 3-1. We’ve got a pretty mature team led by a coach that isn’t letting us forget how much we still need to grow.
Q: Is there a different feel with the early season success, maybe in years past, that you’ve seen with this team?
A: Yeah, what I see is that we just have a long way to go to be where we want to be. We’re fortunate to be 3-1. I say fortunate, we earned those wins, but, with as much room as we have to grow, it’s exciting. It’s exciting where we could go with the right amount of work and the right attention to detail.
Q: What lessons do you take from some of those hot starts that didn’t turn out the way you wanted to?
A: You know, in 2011, I think the injury bug hit us pretty good, I think that was part of it. We had a couple come from behind victories that, like I said, we earned those, but they were improbable wins, I think two 21 point comebacks. We were really hot on offense at the time and not quite so hot on defense. We were getting some really opportunistic turnovers. I think it’s a little bit more sustainable when your defense is playing this good and keeping you in any game at this point, and with a new offense, I can only see us going up from here.
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DE Jerry Hughes
Q: Your chip though, where did it start growing and what was the genesis? Was it playing in a defense the last couple of years that really wasn’t suited to you and maybe you took some criticism for how things went, is that where it starts maybe with you?
A: I mean I think it has always been there. That’s just the way I play football.
Q: So we’re talking in college?
A: Yeah, yeah. Anytime you call my name, you put me on your team you’re going to get me, 110%. I think that’s just the way I play, that’s just the way I was raised, honestly. If I am going to go out there I am going to give it my all, I am going put it all in.
Q: But you weren’t comfortable in the defense under Rex [Ryan]?
A: I mean it was a 3-4, it was a lot different than what we are doing now, a 4-3 certainly suits me. That’s just what I played in college, I’m a defensive end and I love having fun.
Q: How much are you dropping, if you had to give us a percentage right now, how much are you being asked to drop?
A: It just depends on what Coach [Leslie] Frazier calls. I mean we have certain plays for that and he is going to use them whenever he feels like. We’re not going to hold anything back so it’s just whatever he calls and we have to be comfortable upfront to do it. I think for us being in a 3-4, it certainly helps.
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LB Lorenzo Alexander
Q: Speak on the Atlanta Falcons, did you feel pretty good about containing them, like their big plays, their 30+ plays ?
A: Yeah, you know what helped us was the turnovers. I mean we were able to stop them a couple times when they got some stuff going, get some turnovers, fewer downs. We were able to take advantage of their offensive line I thought with our pass rush. Matt [Ryan] had to get the ball out of his hands so he didn’t have time to really throw the ball downfield, then when Julio [Jones] and [Mohamed] Sanu go out, I mean that makes it a lot easier to cover, play coverage and not really have to double Julio and maybe leave some of those other guys one-on-one to take advantage of you. So, some things worked in our favor and we took advantage of it and that’s going to happen throughout the entire season. We just continue to build off the top of our success.
Q: This week you are facing [Tyler] Kroft their tight end, he is filling in for [Tyler] Eifert. Really kind of coming out the last two weeks, he had two scores last week. What have you see from him cause he kind of is a little bit of an unknown if you will?
A: He’s a solid player, tight end. I think like with a lot of players in this league all you need is opportunity, right? That was kind of my gig last year, finally getting the opportunity to play. He’s in this league for a reason, on that team for a reason, and he is stepping up while their Pro Bowl tight end has been injured. Obviously, want to keep an eye out on him. Want to respect him but fear none obviously. I look forward to competing against him throughout the game. I’m pretty sure he’ll get some plays but we’ll bounce back and hopefully out-execute them throughout the entire game.
Q: Sean talked this week about this team handling winning, something they haven’t had to do for a couple of years. How important is that and how do you do that, what do you say to a guy to do that?
A: It’s huge, I think you just have to continue to trust the process and stay focused. I’ve been a part of teams that have started 6-2 and not make the playoffs, it can happen and turn on you quickly. And I think that happens when guys lose focus or start reading the press clippings, start making everything become routine and not being committed and trying to figure out ways I can get better and really dissecting their own game because really we all have a little bit of weakness in our game from week to week that teams try to exploit that following week. If you don’t continue to stay on top of those things, take the coaching, be a professional and working on things, eventually somebody is going to figure you out and get you. That’s why I think you see a lot of times, even with the young players, young players have early success and then maybe after Week 5 or 6, teams start figuring them out and now it turns on them quickly. I think we are kind of symbolic of that as a young team, right, so we have to overcome that and making sure that we stay focused and continue to get better each and every week, and not really rest on what we’ve done in the past as far as winning games.
Provided by the Buffalo Bills.