The Buffalo Bills held their second day of voluntary veteran minicamp on Wednesday. The camp concludes Thursday.
Transcripts from media sessions with coach Rex Ryan, quarterback Matt Cassel, safety Duke Williams and wide receiver Robert Woods, provided by the Buffalo Bills:
Q: With it being day two of on field stuff, does it elevate much from day one or was it pretty much in the same mode?
A: Same mode. However you’ve installed, for instance on defense you put in 10 more defenses. So it’s something that you’ve already talked about in meetings. It’s not like we’ve put in 10 brand new defenses, but it is something they’ve heard and you put it in there today. So it’s a little different that way. All the communications, it was sharp I thought.
This just in, I am really happy we signed Jerry Hughes back. I literally, it’s rare that you have to pull a guy from practice because he is ruining your practice. I had to pull him today. If we were keeping track, he might have had five or six sacks. So it’s one of those deals where it’s like, let’s pull him out and get a pass off or something like that. But he really did have that kind of day today.
It’s good. Guys are flying around and like I mentioned yesterday this is a team full of speed. We had some guys open for touchdowns and kind of missed some. Every time I look out there I’m like, ‘Oof, we are loaded.’ And I’m not just talking about the offensive side, but the defensive side as well. It’s fun to watch.
I sat back and watched the quarterbacks today primarily in individual and I’ve been impressed to say the least. When you see EJ (Manuel), I don’t remember if I’ve seen him throw the ball this well in the time I’ve seen him doing it. He’s really firing it.
Q: We talked to Preston (Brown) and Nigel (Bradham) yesterday. What impression do you and the team have in those two youngsters to have the faith in them to trade Kiko (Alonso)? What have they shown you on tape?
A: Well they proved it last year when those guys were out there for all those snaps. Certainly they have the tape to back it up. I’m impressed with them mentally. The things we’ve asked them to do, a lot of different things, and they just take to it. I like the way they’re communicating with each other and it just seems like it’s a group that you’d like to have together for a long time.
Q: Also the faith that you have in a 22 year old to continue calling plays for the defense like Preston will, that must say something about him.
A: Oh God, I didn’t realize he was 22. I’m a little nervous. You know, with Preston I think he’s a coach’s kid so he has kind of been around the game awhile. He certainly has more of, I don’t know if mature is the right word, but he’s been around the game. SO I think it comes off pretty easy.
Q: Your offensive line hasn’t had pads on, so what are you able to get out of watching them in practice?
A: Well the mental part of it, you’re definitely looking at that. You want to see if guys cover each other up, use your hands and all of that. That shouldn’t be that big of a difference with pads or without pads. Obviously the run game is a huge difference. These guys aren’t teeing off on each other in the run game. So that part, footwork, communication, all of that is important. Passing game, all of that stuff is important. So that is kind of what you’re looking for now.
Q: What have you seen from the wide receivers that have been able to participate?
A: Really talented group. There is no doubt. You talk about Robert Woods, having to try to defend against him, you know what he brings. Great route runner, competitive, all of that. Catches the ball, very instinctive guy. Knows how to get open and knows how to set people up. He isn’t the blazer that some of the teammates are, there are some guys here that run. You look at (Marquise) Goodwin, he’s been really impressive to me. A guy that is not just straight-line speed, he is a route runner. He can lower his hips, change direction and obviously has that blow by you speed. He has been really impressive these first two days.
Q: Rex, you mentioned Jerry Hughes. Is he a perfect fit for your scheme?
A: Well if he keeps rushing the passer like he did today, yeah I’d say so. You can put him anywhere too. Here is a guy that plays bigger than his frame. He’s like 255 or something, but he plays much bigger. He can play as an end and he can play as an outside backer. He’s definitely a physical player. He’s a good athlete. Your great pass rushers have a feel for it. When to go inside, when to set up guys and all of that. He has it. He is kind of like a starting pitcher with about four or five pitches. He’s one of those nightmares to go up against.
Q: He could sometimes be overzealous and pick up some penalties. Do you just accept that or do you try to take a little bit out of him?
A: Well you love the passion that he brings. There is no doubt that you love that. The only thing that you might hold back on is the thing where it becomes a penalty. We want to be as aggressive as we possibly can be within the confinements of the rules. Also, we want to play tot the very end of that whistle. After it goes, you have to hold off. You can always slow a guy down, you can’t speed him up. SO we’ll handle it, but I love the passion and you love the mentality he plays with.
Q: How much are you throwing at the players on both sides of the ball?
A: It’s not everything because it would be impossible to. I’ve looked at that offensive playbook, so it’s not everything, but it is a lot. My dad always had a thing, he’d say, “Your players can always do more than you expect. So challenge them mentally and don’t let the only limitation your players have be you as a coach.” I think that’s something where you challenge the teachers in the room and then let’s get it going. If all of a sudden we just put in one or two plays a day, then that is the expectation your team has. With us, we’re putting in five defenses, 10 pass routes, whatever. Challenge them mentally and let them know that is going to be expected and then you slow off as you get going. That’s kind of how I like to do it. It’s kind of backwards of what a lot of people teach. A lot of times people will teach just this one thing and let’s make sure we’re great. I get that, but that’s not us. We want to be multiple on offense and defense. So we let them know that mentally you have to be ready to go and you have to try to stay ahead of it the best you can.
Q: Yesterday you said you didn’t know if you would change things up on the offensive line. If you did, what was the lineup today?
A: Yeah, we moved them around. So we moved (Cyrus) Kouandjio to left, right, he’s doing it all. Richie (Incognito) was playing right guard today instead of left guard like he normally plays. Then we flipped the tackles and we did all of it today. Just letting them know, don’t get comfortable and this could easily happen. When you literally only carry seven offensive lineman in to a game a lot of times you have to move guys to different positions. That’s where a guy like (Kraig) Urbik is critical. For a guy that can back up center and both guards, all that type of stuff. It’s funny because I mentioned that and in an ideal world I want him to be the backup because it’s a lot easier and you feel comfortable as a coach with a guy that can backup three spots. It’s easier to have a guy learn to play right guard or a one position spot than it is for a guy to backup three. If he ends up being in our best five, then he is going to be starting offensively.
Q: You said you flipped both tackles, meaning Cordy (Glenn) and Seantrel (Henderson)?
A: Yeah, we flipped them around today. Moved them around to both sides. Even Kouandjio as well.
Q: Is Kouandjio working mostly at tackle or guard?
A: No, he’s working at tackle.
Q: When you had to defend this offense last year, how did Sammy Watkins change your game plan?
A: Yeah, I tried to double him anyway because I knew who Sammy Watkins was, but you also have Robert (Woods) on the other side. But in this one, I sold out, in that second game I sold out completely and said we are not going to let this dude beat us. So we doubled him every snap, every single snap. What happened? Robert destroyed us in that game. That is what you love about it and that’s how they complement each other. Robert is not a guy you slouch on, he is a guy that should be double also. But I said no, I’m not going to get beat by Sammy. And I didn’t. I got beat by everyone else.
Q: What do you think about how if they double Sammy this year, they’ll also have to deal with Percy Harvin?
A: You got Percy, you got (Charles) Clay, you got (LeSean) McCoy in the backfield, you’ve got Fred Jackson out of the backfield. We’ve got a lot of guys. I’m telling you, the Goodwin kid is not one to sleep on either. I don’t know you are going to defend him with one guy.
Q: How are you juggling your time this week with the practices and also the draft preparations?
A: Tomorrow will be, obviously once we go through the practice and that’s it then it is all draft. The work by the scouting department and all that from my end of it is complete. So it’s not that I’m getting involved with that right now. I’ll have some discussions with Doug (Whaley) and things if anything changes, but we’re in the very capable hands of Doug Whaley. We’re going in to this draft recognizing that we don’t have a first round pick, so that first day of the draft, we probably aren’t going to pick. I’d say it looks pretty good that we won’t pick.
Q: For instance, were you involved with Bryce Petty coming here for a visit last night?
A: Well it wasn’t here. I guess he let the cat out of the bag, we were there. I was not there. We were there. We had good meetings with him and things like that, but I was not obviously present at the meetings.
Q: You’ll obviously take the feedback from that meeting from the staff?
Q: What will Thursday be like for you not having a first round pick?
A: Well it’s obviously not as exciting as if you had a pick. I think that is a pretty safe statement to make. But it’s still, I love the draft. I’m no different than a draft fan or a fan of football that it’s always a special day and a special time. Whether we’re picking or not, it’s going to affect what happens the next day when we do pick.
QB Matt Cassel
Q: How is it going so far just in terms of learning this offense?
A: So far so good. It has only been two days out here and everybody has to respect the fact that it is a process. It is obviously April and everybody is learning each other. We are getting familiar with one another. Personnel, terminology and everything else. We have had a good first two days. The guys have come out and competed really well. The practice tempo has been upbeat and everybody has been moving around. I would say it has been a great first two days, but we have to know that it is a process.
Q: Have you been limited at all?
A: I haven’t. I have been completely fine. Nothing has been held back at all in terms of football.
Q: How long does the process take to become comfortable with a receiver?
A: It differs from one guy to the next. I think it is just repetition and building a rapport. Understanding how a guy likes to come out of a break or the different mannerism he might have. It definitely takes a little bit of time and right now these are great camps for us to be able to get on the same page with these guys.
S Duke Williams
Q: How have things been going learning a new defense?
A: I would say it is going great. I wouldn’t say new defense. We had this defense two years ago with some similar things and similar schemes. Guys are really jumping on it fast. Learning how to play with each other. It is fun having the same defense we already learned and the second day went by great.
Q: How much different do you expect the concepts to be from two years ago?
A: We play man-to-man. Everything is manned up. We let the front do their thing. Those guys are very talented, so blessed to have a defensive front as good as we have here. Guys here have been here three years with each other. We are able to play fast and guys are learning quick. We are able to take up the defense real quick.
Q: Do you feel this is an opportunity for you with Da’Norris Searcy being gone?
A: Playing 49 to 50-percent of the snaps last year was great for me. I got my feet wet. Just stepping up as a starter this year and taking on the role is going to make it easier. I believe it is going to be a great competition. We have great safeties here. As soon as Aaron (Williams) gets back, it is going to make our secondary complete. I believe I am going to step in and be that guy. Being under Searcy next year, he was a great veteran who taught me a few things. Jarius (Byrd) too. Playing under him also was a great experience for me, so I feel like I am ready.
WR Robert Woods
Q: What did you think of the addition of Percy Harvin?
A: I think it is a great addition to our team. A versatile player who is dangerous when he touches the ball. Competition in our room like you said—but we need that. It elevates everybody’s game. Pushes the room to get better. Our offense to get better. I think it will definitely elevate our team.
Q: Do you consider yourself an example of a team being able to find an impact player in the second round of the draft?
A: I think all picks are vital to a team. I think Doug Whaley is on the right track with getting guys in here. The second round pick has been very big the past couple of years. Has got to be a good one.
Q: How has your rapport with Matt Cassel been so far?
A: It has been pretty good. We trained a little bit in LA, so we connected a bit. Come out here, connect and do the same thing in rotation with the quarterbacks. It is a big rotation so we are seeing every quarterback. He is out here making some strong throws and helping this team.