Offensive Tackle Marshall Newhouse
Q: When you were released by the Raiders, you had a tweet saying you feel as ‘encouraged, passionate and alive as I’ve ever felt.’ Just kind of explain what did you feel, what did you think about that? Why did you tweet that? Why did you feel encouraged, passionate, and alive?
A: Well, a lot of that comes from maturation. I just finished my 8th year in the league, going into the 9th, and you gain a sense of perspective about what this job is and its role and its positon in the greatest game of life. I used to have times where I was in a dark place and football, at times, had too much pull on how I felt day-to-day, and I’m definitely better now having gone through that. It was just the realization in that moment of, yeah, it was a gut punch, but realizing that there’s still a lot of football for me to be payed regardless of where it is. I have a lot of life left to be lived, and it was just kind of a status about where I was mentally and emotionally. [It was] more for myself than anyone else, obviously I made it public, but it was a shock at the beginning, but also not a shock. [When] you play in this league lone enough, you know when there’s turnover, guys come and go - that’s just how it goes. I thought I carved out a role there, but like you said, this long in the league, there are few surprises left. The whole statement was just me taking an inventory of where I am and where I hope to continue to go.
Q: I’ve seen that you’ve played both right tackle [and] left tackle- you came in in your career. You played there for a while. You even played a little bit of guard in your career. At this point, do you feel like you’re a one spot, swing guy? Kind of tell us where you think you are and where you belong here on the offensive line.
A: Well, obviously I played tackle in college [and] I played tackle a majority of my career. I feel most comfortable at tackle, whether it’s left or right. Yeah, I think the adversity that we were going through for me to get thrown in there at guard at times I think added to my value and just added to my repertoire of things that I can do and feel comfortable doing. I’m definitely at the point where tackle is the most comfortable, but whatever helps us win football games at the end of the day [I will do]. The time that I play, I think I played left guard on Monday Night Football against Geno Atkins, I didn’t know that was going to happen until it happened. That’s just kind of what you learn in football, that being ready for those moments is more important mentally, and obviously the physical- the reps matter and he lack of them can show, but being ready for anything at any moment I think adds to my value and what I can bring to the team.
Q: To piggyback on that, Marshall, what would you say are your strengths that you bring to the table in general?
A: I’d say I’ve had great feet my entire career. When I use them, I’ve got great hands. I’m smart, I can anticipate a play hard. I love being part of a team and I still feel like I, at that 29 years [of age], after eight years in the league, a lot of room to improve. I think Juan Castillo, we were familiar with each other coming out of the draft, talking to him on my visit was enlightening [and] encouraging. He also sees room for growth in me as well. I think all of those things combined bring a lot of value to the Buffalo Bills.
Q: Marshall, did he express what specific areas of your game he felt could take a noticeable step up and get even better?
A: Yeah, it was the consistency of use with my hands and my sets being more uniform and my posture being more uniform. Those are things that I try to be as self-aware as possible and self-critiquing as possible and definitely things I’ve seen over my career that I’ve slowly shaved off part of them and gotten better, but there’s still room to grow and those are things we talked about. [There are things] he thinks he can specifically help me with practice time and film studying.
Q: With respect to some of those techniques, when you go to a new team, each line coach likes things done a certain way. Having done that a few times already in your career, are you anticipating at this stage in your career [that] it will be a relatively easy transition here?
A: One thing that I have been blessed with is athletic ability, and with athletic ability comes adaptability. With a new offensive line coach, they do ask for specific things, but, like I said, the familiarity talking to Coach Castillo, he’s not trying to ask you to do anything that’s outside of your physical limitations. I don’t think he would have even wanted me on the trip if he didn’t think that he could do something with the football that I have played already and make that better. I am definitely adaptable - I’ve shown that. It’s not always the easiest thing, I won’t even act like it is, but it’s something that I have done, can do, and will continue to do.
Q: Marshall, why Buffalo? Simple question for you.
A: Well, yeah, at this point, being released by the Raiders was a shock in the moment, and then you take inventory, and the next step is ‘alright, now where?’ That’s what you pay your agents for; they’re doing their job, they’re doing their due diligence and you’re also, as a player, paying attention, saying your likes, dislikes, needs and wants. Buffalo was one of the teams on that list. Obviously, I talked to Jerry [Hughes] since he’s been here. We’ve been friends since 2006. We were freshman at TCU [Texas Christian University]. He’s always spoken highly of the ownership here, more specifically, the new staff here, so this was definitely on my radar. Having taken my visit and tour of the facilities, seeing their vision and the culture, and the things that they’re looking to do, it was a big factor as well. One part that I didn’t mention that I’ll mention now is: the fan-base. I played in, this will be my fifth new place, new market, but the fan-base is renowned just for their loyalty, respect for the game, their ability to just have fun, and take football as a sport for what is- just a game, but also wanting to win [and] sticking by their team. That’s something that does not go unnoticed by guys around the league.
Q: Marshall, I’m curious, you’ve been around the league [for] a while [and] bounced around different teams. What is it about you and your approach you think that has allowed you to stick in the league as long as you have?
A: Well, I always feel like I have room to improve, and then there’s just the level of perseverance and self confidence in what I can do and what I can bring. Football, at this level, is difficult. It’s difficult to get to and it’s difficult to stay at. There are for sure people who have taken it for granted that have played eight years, but I definitely do not. A lot of that is because of being mentally strong and persevering in the face of just a lot of weird situations and a lot of people that don’t believe in you. At the end of the day, it’s about your self-confidence and your self-belief. I feel like I have that; that’s not going away at any time soon, so I think that’s been a huge part in my journey as an NFL player up to this point.
Q: Just piggybacking off that previous question, about five teams. Obviously, teams still want you. Do you feel like you’ve got a reputation for kind of being someone who fits in well to the culture and a good teammate? Do you think that’s part of your longevity?
A: I would think so. I would call it just professionalism and being a good teammate, like you said. Sometimes, those things go farther than people realize. Obviously, the NFL is a result oriented business, so if you can’t play or can’t contribute, your time will be short, but I also believe I bring a lot in terms of being a good teammate, professionalism, my locker room presence, leadership skills, all that stuff. Within yourself, you learn how to do those things over time or you don’t and maybe you don’t last as long. I definitely felt like those are big strengths of mine and reasons why I feel like I have a good reputation around the league for being a good teammate.
Center Russell Bodine
Q: Russell, simple question: Why the Bills?
A: The Bills are a team I was somewhat familiar with. We played them a couple times since I’ve been in the league. It’s an organization that’s got a good reputation. They’re building, they’re on the rise, making the playoffs last year. Unfortunately, with Eric [Wood] [and him] having to retire, however that’s shaken down [with] medical stuff, there’s obviously some opportunity at the position there and I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the organization. It was definitely something I was interested in from the get-go.
Q: Russell, do you laugh at all with the connection between the Bills and the Bengals going back to that last week of the regular season and now AJ McCarron has signed here, you’ve signed here, Preston Brown goes the other way? It seems like these two teams have been kind of connected really closely here.
A: Yeah, it was kind of a weird deal this offseason, swapping players left and right. That was something you don’t necessarily see very often. Going back to the end of the season obviously, we were happy to pull that win off in the end and to be honest, I didn’t know the consequences that would have in Buffalo, but clearly, based off the reactions, they were pretty thrilled about it, too.
Q: Russell, you mentioned earlier Eric Wood obviously is going to be forced to retire here. Do you anticipate coming in to compete with Ryan Groy for that starting center job here?
A: Yeah, I think that’s the expectation. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and what he did in the tail end of last year. [He] certainty looks like a good player. That being said, I’m coming in [and] I’m trying to play, too. Obviously, we’ll have to figure out how that goes, but we’ll see.
Q: Russell, just your thoughts on joining AJ here and the familiarity that that presents to you, just having a guy you’re used to snapping to?
A: Yeah, I mean, obviously that’s a little comfort level for both of us, having been around each other for four years and obviously we work pretty closely. I’ve talked to him quite a bit over the day or so and I think we’re both excited about the opportunity.
Q: There have been some reviews of your play, whether it’s through analytics websites or the “all-22 looks” that have not been overly positive or flattering. Do you pay any attention to that kind of stuff and if so, how do you react to it, and do you agree or disagree, I guess, with some of those reviews?
A: Yeah, I’ll be honest, I obviously don’t read all that stuff. I think, with any player, you’d drive yourself nuts sitting there reading all the media stuff. It is what it is. I definitely think- you go through four years and 64 starts, whatever it’s been, and you definitely learn a few things, I think. Obviously, I can say at times I haven’t played up to my own expectations for myself, but I certainly think I’m still on the way up. I would say every game at this point, you’re still learning; you’re always getting better. I’m excited to get over there and work will Juan [Castillo]. He’s got a reputation for making guys into good players, great players, and I’m excited to get going on that end.
Q: Russell, have you done any recon with maybe some friends, fellow linemen around the league that have worked with Brian Daboll, just to kind of get a sense of what you’re walking into here? I know you can’t really discuss X’s and O’s under the new CBA until April, so just curious if you did any recon in that regard?
A: To be completely honest with you, I don’t know a whole lot about Brian. I have some friends that have played with Juan, actually my roommate from college, James Hurst, played with him, played under him, for two years in Baltimore and had nothing but positive things to say about him. Like I said, he’s got the reputation around the league of making guys better players. Like I said, I’m excited to get out there and get going.
Q: Going back to AJ McCarron for a second, obviously, he hasn’t played very much in his four years in the league, but you get to see him every day at practice. Are you confident that he’s a guy who can be a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL and be successful?
A: Yeah, absolutely, I believe that. Just talking to him, he’s excited about the opportunity. If you remember the little streak that he played a few years ago, we had all but won one playoff game with the best quarterback. We go down and we fumble at the end of the game, drive and basically run it out and we get a few defensive penalties, I’m sure everybody remembers or can look up that meltdown that we had against the Steelers, but from AJ’s perspective, that was- we were right there at winning a playoff game with him as the starting quarterback. He’s got all the things that it takes to do it and it’s just a matter of going out there, working hard, getting familiar with a new system, and I have all the confidence in him that he can handle it.
Q: Russell, you have started and played every game of your career since you came in the league. That’s pretty rare for a player at any position. What do you attribute that to?
A: You know, I think a lot of that’s just- there’s a little bit of luck to it, there’s a little bit of- obviously, everybody’s going to be hurting and be banged up at times. I’ve played through some stuff; some ankles [injuries], some wrist stuff, but not anything serious for sure. It’s just a matter of just going out there and trying to be a gritty guy. You’ve got to go out there and show up for your teammates. They’re counting on you and you’re counting on them. I think it’s important to go out there and show out for them every week.