Transcript of media sessions on Friday's opening day of Buffalo Bills training camp: Head coach Rex Ryan, quarterback Matt Cassel, running back Fred Jackson, running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Provided by the Buffalo Bills.
Head Coach Rex Ryan
First off, I would like to say I thought it was going to be tough to find something to top jumping out of a plane. But as a football coach I think this toped it. The reason I say it is this day was a long time coming you can’t wait to get out. You itch and are ready to go. And you get out here and you experience the fans, you experience the great weather--on the grass man it is tremendous. You know I am glad I am getting paid what I am getting paid, but when you look at this man you would do it for a heck of a lot less. I mean way, way, way less, I know my agent is happy with this. But I am just telling you it doesn’t get much better, it was great. We are so much further along now than when I go back and look at minicamps and all that kind of stuff from a communications standpoint from all that we are hard count we are doing all that stuff already from day one. Now it is great. The two’s were a little rough out there in one of the periods. Our big thing is you go to put work in every single day and let’s see how good we are going to be at the end of this thing. I think we are going to be pretty good. And with that I will open it up for questions.
Q: What is going on with Mario Williams he seems to have changed designations in 24 hours?
A: He is good. He will be ready to roll. It is no problem. He just had a minor back thing. He is fine though.
Q: Why do you think it is so much better?
A: You know its funny, I think its just hard to explain. But as a coach this is what you live for. You got an excellent football team and a great fan base that is excited to be here, you got a beautiful day here, beautiful facilities. It doesn’t get much better it really doesn’t. The first day of camp and things is such a long time coming. It is just fantastic to be out here.
Q: In terms of what you were trying to work on in team drills today, what was the emphasis and how did you gauge your previous statement in terms of what you saw?
A: We were really doing first and second down stuff. So it wasn’t that we were moving the ball or anything in particular that way. Just the formations the alignments, assignments, techniques that is what you are really looking for and a lot of communication. I thought our communication was a zillion times better. I am not saying we are there by any stretch, but it was way better than what it was in the minicamps. Just getting guys out here, having Sammy [Watkins] on the field help you? Yeah, it probably helps you, he looks pretty good. But it just feels way better. The fact we are using cadence not just going on the first sound all that type of stuff, I think we looked decent that way.
Q: Can you draw any parallels to that first day back in ’09 with the Jets?
A: It just had a different feel. I don’t know if it is because it is my second chance or whatever it is. I think I am better prepared now than I was then even though that same enthusiasm that I have now I had back then I can promise you. So that is probably real similar its not a whole lot different, when you have a quarterback competition, competition at several different positions. I feel this is a really deep roster in particular at a lot of positions, I think that makes for a great camp. But I am sure I was as enthusiastic back then at things, but I think now when I look back on it having six years under my belt I am probably more prepared for it and looking for certain things and I feel great I can tell you that much.
Q: Any word on [Dan] Carpenter or Leodis [McKelvin] and where they are as far as conditioning goes?
A: Carpenter just kind of tweaked a hamstring he thinks so is going to be alright. No set backs that way. As far as Leodis is concerned, he has a little injury and things. We will see how it goes, progresses through this training camp and things, but I am not concerned now with it. I know he is doing what he can with it to speed his recovery so that’s a good thing.
Q: Is this something related to his surgery or something new that has popped up?
A: I don’t know specifically that answer, but we are not overly concerned
Q: LeSean [McCoy] getting the crowd fired up throwing the football into the crowd is that your kind of culture rubbing off on these guys the excitement?
A: I don’t know about that. But I was excited as I think everyone else was. It was new to us. Being here and seeing the fans how excited and enthused they are. That is really a great thing. There is no question about it. I know I was excited about it and I am sure some of those guys. LeSean that is who he is, its not anything, my culture whatever, I think that is the kind of person he is.
Q: Players have kind of suggested playoffs or bust is that kind of the way you are looking at it?
A: We want to win I can tell you that much. And we expect to win. I think going into it we are going to work we are going to do anything we can to put ourselves in that position. That certainly is our objective is to get in there and obviously we will see, we got a lot of work to do. We got some tough opponents in front of us but we are not focused on the opponents we are focused on us. I am excited where we are going it is not just me that believes in it, it is everybody.
Q: You only have had a hour of team work in one practice so where do the quarterbacks stand?
A: However you rank them. That is pretty much it. I mean we have a long way to go, this is obviously just the start of everything. But everyday you are evaluating and things like that. You know I am not ready to say this guy is in this spot or whatever.
Q: We saw Percy Harvin taking some reps at corner?
A: Yeah he did, he came to me. He wanted to help this team out in anyway. And you know you have a guy like Leodis go down or whatever you can’t have enough depth at cornerback in my opinion first hand info. So lets see what he can do. Obviously we are not going to over coach him and all that stuff. We expect him to be a top receiver but if he can help out in that area just like if Kyle Williams can help our offense out then we are going to look at that as well. This is just a lets see what he can do a little bit. He is the one that came to me, obviously he has the physical skill set for it. You think he would probably be pretty good at it.
Q: Your comments on Ronald Darby who appeared to flash today and slide right into that first team role he didn’t look out of place?
A: Well I know he can’t play the football down the field because that is what they said about him right? I don’t know that first play he did, didn’t he? So I think the combination of him playing and you got Donnie Henderson really heading up those corners. When you look at that experience we have at the back end as a coaching staff not just with the guys we have playing, I think he is going to benefit from that. As you look at it with Tim McDonald, Donnie Henderson and Denis Thurman that is a pretty good group, but that is why we are confident we are going to get that young man up to speed. He has the opportunity in front of him obviously with Leodis being out and we will see how quickly this guy develops. But I think he is going to be a guy that develops quickly.
Q: What is the framework for how the quarterback competition is going to work out here?
A: Well I think first off we are going to have more two spot drills than I have ever had. So I think that is something Greg Roman has brought to us he did that out in Stanford and also San Francisco. I think it is a great idea. It is not necessarily you are doubling the reps, but you are getting more reps for your guys. And when you have the type of players at that position it is not just two guys but actually three guys battling for that job. I think it gives us the opportunity to look at all three guys so that is something that mainly than what I have done in the past.
Q: Do you have to guard against over analyzing every throw from these guys then?
A: Well I don’t think that is what we are going to do well hey he moved a head he had a great throw here. I don’t think it is going to be like that. At the same time every day is important. I think that is something that we are certainly looking at.
Q: With Pat Meyer being around today, is that an indication with where the team might be heading with Aaron (Kromer).
A: Well first off Pat was hired the last day of minicamp. So it wasn’t that he was just hired, he was already on board. So it had really nothing to do with Aaron’s situation. And as far as Aaron’s situation is concerned there’s no update on that. We’re working with the league and still gathering the information.
Q: How did you feel Sammy (Watkins) looked today and how much does he change the dynamic of your offense?
A: Well I think he definitely changes the dynamic of our offense, any offense that he’s on. I know what he meant obviously to Clemson and things, but he’s just having…Having to defend against him I know what a pain it is because you have to basically double him. If not, you’re really going to struggle and he’s gonna win most of those one-on-one matches. So he looked great to me, it’s like nothing happened. That’s how he feels, he’s in great shape, I know he’s confident with the guys coaching him and everything else – he’s excited to get back out here so that’s great for Bills fans.
Q: With the Kromer situation happening what’s your approach?
A: Well Kurt’s obviously going to head up coaching the offensive line, he’s obviously been here throughout camp. I think he’s got the qualities to be a fine offensive line coach. But it’s just business as usual for us.
Q: How do you envision Fred (Jackson) fitting in and what can you expect from him?
A: Well first off I think Fred is in great shape. You know he may be the oldest guy but I still think he’s got some tread on that tire still. The thing you notice immediately about Fred (Jackson) – smart, he picks things up extremely well. Has picked up our offense extremely well, still valuable as a threat out of the backfield, great blitz pick up and by the way you still run the football. Will use him, were not going to say that his role is going to be here yet, it’s clearly too early to define roles that way. You know I get it, obviously LeSean (McCoy) came in here to get majority of the carries, that’s not a secret. But I think Fred can be very valuable for us.
Q: Corey (Graham) ran most of the reps, are you going to work with Duke (Williams) at all?
A: Well I mean Duke is a guy that worked all camp, all through the minicamps and things. I put really those three guys, I know the way we set up practice the two’s get a ton of reps so we put with (Bacarri) Rambo, Duke and (Jonathon) Meeks – all three of them I just put with that group so they’re going to rotate with that group. But I want to work Corey and obviously with Aaron not having work, I want those guys to work together and do it with the ones.
Q: Did you get an invite to LeSean McCoy’s party?
A: I did not get an invite, I’m a little disappointed about that but maybe next year
Q: Is there anything that you make of that?
QB Matt Cassel
Q: I know one practice, one day…But what was the general feeling and maybe the transition from offseason to today?
A: Yeah, it was great. It was great to be back out here, it was great to have everybody out competing and it’s always an exciting time of year when you get back to camp because it starts for real now. You can see the excitement, the energy that the guys brought, and for us the little bit of time away and also kind of catch your breath a little bit and really be able to absorb some of that playbook that we went through all offseason. Now get back at it, it was exciting to be out here.
Q: Does it ramp up the pressure for you guys knowing that it’s that much closer to a decision being made?
A: Well of course you have to have a sense of urgency especially at our position. I think every time you go out there you’re trying to prove that you’re the guy and also that you’re prepared and ready to go. So of course there’s a sense of urgency each and every time, but I think at the same time you have to go out with an understanding that you can’t put too much pressure on yourself or you, you know you take away from what you’re trying to get done.
Q: Where does the effect that Rex has start from, everything around him?
A: I think it starts with his confidence ya know, and I think that that carries over to the players. He creates an environment that’s such that he makes it exciting for us. He makes… You wanna play for him because you know that he’s gonna put you in the best possible positon to win and that’s always exciting as a player.
Q: What did you know of him (Rex Ryan) before you got here, and what have you learned from him since the period of time he’s been here?
A: I know that he’s a competitor, I know that first and foremost. I know that when we were in like the first day of seven on seven we got a blitz that we’ve never seen before, and we’re going “what in the world is going on?” So he wants to win each and every down. I also have had a tremendous amount of respect for him throughout my career. Just everywhere that he’s been he creates a challenge for ya offensively when you’re playing against his defense. And then now that I’m playing for him and he’s actually our head coach I can understand why players respond to his coaching and really respect what he does.
Q: What’s the relationship like between you, and EJ (Manuel), and Tyrod (Taylor)? Is it different now that you’re at Training Camp?
A: Ya know, not really. Honestly I think that we’ve got a great room. I think Tyrod (Taylor) and EJ (Manuel) are great people… Not just here but outside, and you guys probably experience that just talking to those guys. You understand that they’re good guys so it makes it easy to come to work every day, and cheer for ‘em, and help ‘em along. At the same time I think that they would do the same for me, so it’s been a good experience so far and while we are competing we… I think we all take the approach that we’re not competing against each other as much as we’re competing against ourselves, and make ourselves the best that we can do and at the end of the day none of us make that decision. The coaches make that decision so we’ve got to go out there and compete on the field.
RB Fred Jackson
Q: What do you think your role will be this season?
A: The best thing I can do is show that I can do it all. Shady (LeSean McCoy) is a tremendous back you know, and they want to get him rolling and things like that, but I feel like I can do whatever they ask me to, and it’s helped me to show that we got some things that they got implemented that I feel that I am really good at, so once we hit the ground it’s on me to go out there and show that, you know, 34 is just a number and it’s on me to go out here and continue to produce, you know make plays when I get that opportunity.
Q: Is it going to be a tough transition for you if you don’t get the majority of the workload?
A: I mean, everybody wants to play. But I think the most important thing for me to do is do whatever is going to help this team win. That’s what I’m here to do. Whatever they ask me to do, you know I think as long as everybody buys into that, it allows us to make plays when we get that chance to. For me, of course I want to be on the field, of course I want to play. But that will be determined by whatever the coaching staff decides to do.
Q: What, if anything, feels different about this camp?
A: Man, it’s just the energy of the coaching staff I think is the thing that I love the best. You know they’re out there having fun; they’re getting along well with players, busting jokes and things like that. I think when you come to training camp you have to obviously get work done, have to obviously improve on things, but when you can come out here and keep it light and enjoy yourself, I think that makes the training camp a lot better.
Q: How much does that really translate over to the players?
A: You know, it translates a lot. As players when you get the opportunity to come out and relax and go have fun, I think it allows guys to go out and make plays.
RB LeSean McCoy
Q: Do you think the league will fine you for throwing that ball?
A: No, they won’t fine me. I’ll probably get in trouble for doing something else though.
Q: What might that be?
A: Who knows man.
Q: How did it feel out there on your first day?
A: It felt good. It felt good to get out here. It’s so different from just training, you know you try to train on different things to get your game better, and then out here is just so much football involved with the plays, the thinking, the mental aspect of the game, and It also feels good to get back with the teammates, so that was the best thing man was getting back to that team, you know everybody was around and cheering each other up and just, all the offseason stories, you know so, I was just happy to be back.
Q: You looked like you were enjoying yourself also.
A: Yeah I know, I always try to get the fans involved. You know, it’s cool for them to come out here for camp; they make us have some fun out there. It’s tough, it’s hot, so there’s a lot going on. No player is actually looking forward to camp, so the fans come out here and cheer us up and get us going. I try to do the same.
Q: Are you getting a sense of the buzz that’s getting built around this team?
A: Just being here I can see the difference. Just of the team, you know, the players. Not really knowing a lot about the Bills getting here, just seeing how involved the city is, the community is, the players. I mean you just look at our roster, the type of structure that we have as far as the players. And then it’s the owners. The owner’s did a great job, the Pegula’s of just getting the right coaches, the right personnel, the guys upstairs in the office, and then down to the players. It trickles down and we all have the same dream, the same goal, and that’s to win games. So I feel like everything is in line, it’s just a matter of time, just go out there and getting it done.
Q: Is it playoffs or bust?
A: For myself, I never look at that as a defining moment of a season. I really don’t. Each practice, each game, you got to get better. So right now we’re at camp trying to get the plays down, trying to be productive as a group and we’ll move on. The playoffs, if that comes up, if that happens later down the line, but you got to get there. You got to perfect your game enough to get to the playoffs and that’s a whole other story. It’s just a matter of getting there.
Q: This team hasn’t been to the playoffs in 15 seasons, that is foremost on people’s minds.
A: Like I said before, this is my first year here and the way I do things, I like to prepare myself for the season and to go through camp hard and get the offense down, know exactly what I’m doing and the players around me, and get better with my teammates and then everything will take care of itself. I think it’s just a matter of time, but you have to put the work in, you know you have to go through the steps. The playoffs are something hard. A lot of great players have never achieved that or even won a playoff game so, you got to get there first. Before any playoff talks or trying to end the streak all that type of conversation has to wait. Each day, each moment, each practice to get better.
Q: Is this type of mentality something you learned while in the league?
A: Just being around different players, so many good players, you know, veterans I played with, and that’s their mindset. I mean, one of the guys I played with and love for sure, Coach (Andy) Reid and his philosophies. He’s a successful coach; he was with the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 years, and I learned a lot from him and just the way he approached the game. I’m sure everybody in the back of their minds, they want to win a Super Bowl, but there’s ways you go about doing it. I feel like each game, each practice, you got to get better.
Q: To set the record straight, what actually happened with your party?
A: That’s weird, it went straight from football to the … it was a blast, it really was. DJ Donald Trump took over the one’s and two’s man and Oprah was there, it was all right. You know what I didn’t actually, I canceled it. It got too wild. I felt like everybody took it out of context so I just, I just canceled it.
Q: Did you talk to Rex (Ryan) about that?
A: No. I’m lying, we did. He was pissed off I didn’t invite him. He gave me like a whole speech for about two hours. “You got to be about the team! If one guy has women, we all need women!” No I’m joking he didn’t say that, but it was just like, we really didn’t talk about it. On a serious note it was just, I felt like it was like a thing I do every year with just teammates, it’s something I bring together with teammates, but I didn’t do it this year, it got too wild. I should of never posted it, and I take blame for that. For the record it was not a weird orgy thing going on, it was just a regular … you know.
Q: Did you have a second thought once you hit send?
A: One of the guys in my camp actually posted it, you know, so we had a talk with him and, we all make mistakes, I didn’t think that it was that serious, but I can see where people can take it the wrong way.
Q: Did having a female owner impact anything, did you think about that?
A: Not really. I don’t really judge people off that, I judge them off their work, you know, their production, the way I deal with them. If somebody is excellent and doing well, woman or man, I mean, I don’t think it matters. At all. That’s what I go off of anybody, and it’s all about production.
Q: Do you think that this sat well with Kim (Pegula)?
A: As far as what part? I mean if you ask like a regular party, there’s age limits, there’s all type of, you know … I feel like everyone took it out of context on how it was perceived. The policy was on the attire I feel like everyone read it wrong, or he said it wrong. If any private event that anybody ever went to, once you submit everything, they let you know what’s appropriate attire to wear. I’m just trying to explain what was going on but … that’s passed me. That’s something small to me. There are so many more things in the NFL to talk about, but you talk about a party.
Q: So it sounds like you had a fun offseason, but you’re here to work now.
A: It wasn’t that fun. Not too fun.
Q: What’s the talent here compared to what you had in Philadelphia?
A: I will say the talent level is amazing. I mean before I got here I didn’t know the type of athletes we had as far as talent, speed. The biggest part is depth. You look at good teams man and what separates a lot of good teams, is depth. Because in this league, in this game, guys get hurt and that’s just part of the game. But if guys can step up, do a good job, and replace that player it’s not a big difference. I feel like here we have a lot of talent. The backfield, so many wide receivers, you know, start on other teams, and even the guys that I play with, which is very good, but overall just the depth not player for player, but overall depth I think that this is by far one of the talented teams I’ve played on.
Q: What stage are you at right now as far as getting to know the offense? And what is your impression of this offense?
A: The biggest thing is just repetition. So a lot of plays we’ve heard before, we went over, minicamp, OTA’s, so we’re familiar with the “verbiage”, we’re familiar with the plays. It’s kind of going over and over it and really knowing it. In’s and out’s. Like I said before, just the type of ownership we have here is top line, they put the right people in place to get this team where it needs to be. If things don’t work out, I’ve got to blame the players because the coaches are brought in and are putting all the right pieces together player wise, plays … I mean Greg Roman is by far one of the most creative coaches I’ve been around. He has that genius thing to him; he’s always trying to find ways to get his special players the ball in space. You know he’s always like quiet trying to think of things to do. So, a coach like that man, and the guys around him, it’s bound for greatness. I just feel like we’re all in place. As players we’ve got to go out there and do it.
Q: Any comments on the Tom Brady situation?
A: Yeah, I like Tom to be honest. We’re good friends, I like him, so hopefully everything works out for him. I don’t really know the in’s and out’s. I feel like you have to know exactly the real details. On TV they let you know what they want. The press, media, you guys know that. So I’m not sure what the details are
Q: Would you rather play him or have him out of the lineup in week two?
A: I want to win. So, I mean … with or without him, if we get that W, that’s all that matters.
Q: Would a deflated football help you more, would it help you hold onto the ball more?
A: I carry the ball loose, so it might help me out.
QB Tyrod Taylor
Q: I know it’s only one practice, any thoughts on how it all went?
A: I think it was good to get out there and get back with the guys, it’s been five weeks off from seeing guys and build some timing back. I think there were some things we did positive, but there’s also some things that we can work on. But gotta go back and watch some film and continue to keep progressing.
Q: What’s the dynamic in the quarterback room, given you’re competing against each other for the same job?
A: I mean we’re all good friends, but we understand the nature of the game. It’s competition, whether it’s for starter or not, you still want to go out there and make the other person better. So it’s an understood competition, there’s no enemies or anything in there. Our job is to make the team better, and let the coaches decide at the end of the day who’s the best man for the team.
Q: Is it hard not to press though knowing how much weight is carried with each play, the chance to convince these coaches you’re the guy?
A: I can only speak for myself in that instance, but as far as pressing that’s not really a focus of mine. Just going out there and taking care of business. Just try to prepare as much as possible, take in the information that coaches give me and go out there and have fun. At the end of the day it’s still a game, it’s a serious game, but you gotta have fun. And if you’re not enjoying it then like you said you’re out there pressing, and that’s what you don’t want to do because then that’s when mistake start coming up.
Q: What do you think of the way that their rotating you guys through with the reps and the two different practice groups?
A: I think it gives a good chance for the coaches to evaluate each guy. Splitting the reps up how they want too and get a chance to get everybody on film – It’s definitely a good thing because if it was just one, on one field then you limit reps that way. So I think the way practice is split up it’s definitely a good chance to give each guy equal reps.
Q: What do you get from Coach (David) Lee?
A: He’s a great fundamental coach. First off he coaches everything, but he’s very big on fundamentals and as a quarterback positon that’s where it all starts. You miss a throw, or you miss the hand off, it all starts with fundamentals as easy as it sounds. But he’s on us about that. There’s a lot of things that I’ve picked up from over the spring and tried to carry on to the five weeks that we were off. Tried to practice on that and better myself coming back into camp.