Head Coach Rex Ryan
Opening statement: First day of pads, I think is always—as a coach, you can’t wait to see it. You find out who’s a down-hill guy, who gets after it and then who won’t. Sometimes you can see some of that but today was good. You forget how long it’s been since you’ve had the pads on. All the camps and all that, you haven’t even had them on, so you’re getting closer and closer to football all the time and I guess Saturday will be the first full scrimmage, so that’s going to be a lot of fun. No injuries to really report. A couple bangs, bumps and bruises but nothing too bad. (Marquise) Goodwin went out a little bit with heat but that’s more heat prevention than anything else. So we got through it, it seems like.
Q: What do you say about Reggie Bush visiting and your thoughts on that? What’s your thinking on wanting him?
A: Well, yeah. I think first off, with any player like in Reggie’s case, he’s just here on a visit, so we’ll see how that goes. You’ll see from time to time you bring guys in to work out, you do different things with different players, but this is an opportunity to visit with him so we’ll see what happens.
Q Do you think you’ll have to smooth things over after the hot-sauce comments from a few years back?
A: See that’s what’s so funny. That was a respect thing. I had to put a little extra hot sauce on him. You know what’s funny, literally it was more of our attention. I think he misunderstood me and ran for like 100 yards against me the next time we played, so that wasn’t good.
Q: Coach, Leger Douzable ran with the ones today. What does he bring to you? Where does he fit in?
A: Well he did run with the ones because we had our rook jumping around the field and he jumped offsides, but Leger (Douzable) is a—and by the way, I would call him Douzable for the first two years I had him and then I figured out his first name—but no, he’s a veteran guy that can play anywhere. Really, a smart guy. Literally can play left, right, nose, we did it all with him. So I think that’s good to have a player like that that you literally can grab and plug in and he’s a good football player obviously.
Q: Is all that versatility up front something you aim for?
A: Well yeah, you do want it and it’s hard to get a get a beat in on who’s doing what. Now, you saw today we had one mistake. Sometimes when you get that flexibility there’s also some concrete rules. “No, I got this.” No, no, no. You’re supposed to be here, you should stay there. But with that, you still have to have concrete rules on who’s playing where.
Q: If all goes well with Reggie’s visit, how does he fit in your team?
A: We’ll discuss that if the time’s right.
Q: Where do you stand in terms of having a kick returner?
A: Not really good as it stands right now. Hey, let’s be honest. That’s somewhere we want to be better at, we struggle a little bit. We don’t have that true return specialist, if you will, so we’re trying to improve. The guy that I’ve really been impressed with though is Greg Salas. I mentioned to him, “You’ve got the best hands on the team, you think you’d be able to catch a punt.” He goes, “Oh, I can catch a punt.” I’m like, “Really, dude?” So when I’ve been sitting here looking at one, get back there. But he’s doing a really good job for us and we’ll see. But yeah, that certainly wasn’t our strength last year. We fumbled three punts, we weren’t very explosive in the return game, so, we’re definitely trying to improve in that area.
Q: Rex, knowing that pads are on now, you have some rookies that factor into your starting defense, at least right now. What are you trying to pull from the practices in terms of evaluating their play?
A: Well sometimes you got to let them know that, ‘Hey, a college tempo might be different from an NFL tempo.’ On a consistent basis, you got to be at a high level each day and I know you can probably hear some of the conversations from out here in the meeting room because we got to understand that. There’s things that may be okay in a college field that’s not acceptable here, so you’re still teaching that. With that being said, I like the way they respond and they’ve been impressive at times. And I’m talking about a lot of those young guys who’ve stepped up and done pretty well.
Q: How did Aaron Williams handle practice today? He was in a couple of issues near the line of scrimmage and took a hit from Cordy (Glenn). How did he hold up?
A: Well the first thing you do is play like you’re not interested, but you keep looking over your shoulder a little bit and see how it is, because that’s really it. We all know he’s okay, but he’s got to know it himself and it will be good. It was good to see him get that contact, now the next thing is when he really makes a hit, face-up tackle, we’ll see how he is. We all feel confident that’s going to be just fine and we need him. He’s a tremendous talent and I love his enthusiasm. Since this training camp came over, man, he’s bought in. All the way in. And with his kind of athleticism, it’s a big plus for us.
Q: How many penalty laps were there today?
A: I think we had three today if I recall. I think we had three.
Q: There were some close calls though…
A: As he would point out to you, “Well technically I wasn’t offsides.” Well I guess not. Cause nobody else moved. Including the nose tackle. He goes “Wait?” He wasn’t supposed to move. But that’s a first. And then he made sure everybody was running their laps now. Like he was all over them. But it just goes, sometimes when you do drill after drill, and you’re running to a different thing and then you put the ball down, here we go again. You know, there’s never an excuse for it, but sometimes it happens and it’s good that, you know we got to make sure that we got our antenna up. Especially the more you get gassed, that’s the more you’ve got to rely on your technique, your fundamentals. And just doing your job. So it was unusual though.
Q: Now that you’re entering your second season with the Bills, just looking at Stephon, what has impressed you about him that maybe you didn’t know before you got here?
A: Always going against him, I knew that, you know that he was an extremely talented young man. But I even think now, I think his sense is “You know what? I’m going to actually take my game to a higher level.” And doing everything he can, whatever he did in the offseason has been terrific because I’ve never seen him – like he’s been a tremendous player. But I see his game is actually improving. It looks like to me, he’s been by far and away the most impressive guy out here.
Q: What do you make of the compliments that EJ feeds off of? I know it’s necessary for a quarterback to have that. But just the way he carries himself?
A: Well he does carry himself like a very confident player. I think it goes back to his high school. I think he was the player of the year in South Carolina. Unusual that he went to South Carolina instead of Clemson, but that’s another story. But I think that’s part of it. He’s used to being a guy that’s been physically gifted but now he wants to be on top of his game mentally. Everything. You see him, he’s bright eyed and bushy tailed. He’s playing corner, which sometimes is not the highest thinking position, yet he’s like, he’s all in. You can ask him anybody’s job, like he’s really dialed in. He wants to be as good a player as he could possibly be and we’re in a great situation because of it.
Q: Because of the rule change to the 25, you say you’re working on kickoffs and you are trying to place it goal-line, to try to make them run it out. Do you think league-wide that teams are going to want the opposition to run it out rather than just blow it through the end zone?
A: That’s certainly a possibility. I think that depending on who the returner is, like we’re working different things. Sometimes we’ll work on the drive. You know, we’re driving it through. But there’s other times you’re exactly right, we’ll place the ball. Sometimes wind is a major factor in that as well. If the wind is in your face, you’re going to try to hang it up. Pin them back in an area. So those are things that we’re working on.
Q: Because you’ve got Carpenter and Gay, and Morgan is in there too. But does this sort of situation help a guy like Dan Carpenter? You carry Gay to kick the ball through the end zone. Dan Carpenter doesn’t have the same leg but maybe he can— does that help his case?
A: Dan kicked off for I think eight years, I think how many years, eight years I think in this league so it’s not that he can’t do it. His leg is strong. It’s just not as strong as Gay’s. Gay probably has got the strongest leg in the league.
Q: Well I’m saying for a roster spot.
A: Well that’s always a possibility. Yeah.
Q: Is there legit competition between Dan Carpenter and one of the others?
A: I think there’s always legit competitions on the football field and there are some that are pretty obvious. Marcell Dareus will make the team. You know? But there’s always competition. And the time you don’t think there is, that’s time you’re going to need some. If a guy goes out and he doesn’t earn the job, then I don’t know. 75 percent of the guys chances out here, they got to compete to earn that job.
Q: If Aaron Williams is healthy, what does that do for you guys?
A: I just think he’s…Aaron’s an unusual talent. You know, a guy that can really run, super athletic, and he’s a hitter. So I think that’s what he brings to the table. Here’s a guy that was a…maybe the new breed of safety, what you’re looking for. The guy that can play man coverage. You know, obviously he’s got corner skills back there at the safety position, but still will hit like a safety. So that’s what you want. But I think he’s a multitalented player. Played man coverage. Can play him in high zone, low zone and blitz. And he’s a good tackler. So it’ll definitely help us.
Q: Rex, year one to year two here, have your methods or messages changed at all with you players?
A: I think the big difference this year is that the training camp has really changed. I think part of it is we did the two spot drills before and that was a great thing to accomplish one of our main objectives which was to find a quarterback. And really evaluate the team but at the same time it kind of…as we go back we have way more small tissue injuries, you know and I think that was kind of the negative about it so this year we know who our quarterback is and we know our players. We know our roster so that’s out. So I think I learned from that. It might have looked good at the time and in theory it was good for us but it also hurt us.
Q: Do you still say the word ‘Playoffs?’
A: Playoffs? In my time I don’t necessarily come out and just say like ‘playoffs’ or ‘Super Bowl’ or whatever. But it’s more about like staying in the present and all that. But make no mistake, my expectations for this football team and myself and everybody in this organization is never going to change.
Q: Are we going to see Jerry Hughes play a little bit more coverage than we did a year ago?
A: Yes, without question. Because the nature of his position, he’s a true outside linebacker, and yeah he’ll drop some, he’ll blitz a lot, and you’ll also see his hand in the dirt like you saw a lot last year.
Q: How big a factor can Charles Clay be? A healthy Clay? And how big a factor do you need him to be?
A: I think we definitely need him to be a major factor for us because he’s a matchup nightmare. A guy that can run like a receiver. He’s got run skills like a running back and a tight end body. And he’ll compete as a blocker. He’s really an all-around guy at that position. But we need to have him, you know he needs to have a big year for us and certainly with his…you know you’re trying to get the ball in the hands of you best players and he’s definitely one of our best players.
S Aaron Williams
Q: How did your first day in pads go for you?
A: It was different. It felt good being back though. Still adjusting to having pads back on again, it’s been a while since I’ve put them on. But, for the most part I felt good about being back.
Q: Watching you and there was at least a moment where there was a run play, I think, you came to the line. I think it was Cordy (Glenn) you went to the ground, you picked yourself up, kind of looked like you assessed everything…
A: Yeah, no. I actually was hoping for a flag on that play because it was a clip. But, nah I just went down. I wasn’t really worried about, you know, falling or anything in that nature, just get back up and get ready for the next play.
Q: What was that moment that you maybe felt like you took a hit that you…
A: I haven’t had that moment yet. Yeah, just we’re out here being smart about it. I would love to test it, but at the same time I’m not going to rush into it. So, there’s no point of having contact on it yet. I’m not going to force myself to do it.
Q: Do you pull yourself out at particular times?
A: Nah, they haven’t really told me if you feel this way you--. It’s just however, if I cannot do a certain drill, I mean, I’ll ask coach do I have to do this or not. But, for the most part I try to be cautious about contact right now.
Q: Have you been doing that the last three days?
A: Yeah, pretty much.
Q: You take yourself out if it’s moment that you just, occasionally…
A: There hasn’t been a lot of those moment yet. I mean, this is our first day in pads so, this is a long camp, we have a lot of time to worry about it.
Q: Do you think with the scrimmage on Saturday, would they put you in the scrimmage?
A: I’m sure they would. Once again, it’s Saturday and we’re not even close to that day yet. So, I’m just focused on day-by-day. Seeing how my neck feels because it’s new, you know I was in helmets the first few days and now we’re back in pads it’s putting more strain on my neck and my shoulders. So, just wanted to see on how I felt being back and putting those pads back on.
Q: Are there still any nerves that you have about taking that first hit?
A: I can’t sit here and tell you that because I’m in a calm atmosphere and I don’t have anybody rushing me right now. So, I mean, I’m at the point now I just don’t think about it. You know, if it happens, then it happens. You know, I can’t go out there worrying about if I’m going to get hurt because then I can’t be able to do my job.
Q: Who would you say you’ve spoken to about this issue?
A: Ed (Reed).
Q: Has it been Ed the most?
A: Ed, it’s been Ed the most. I mean, I talked to (Andrew) Cappuccino, talked to Shone (Gipson), talked to Bud (Carpenter), but one of the guys that really helped me out was Ed. And he had a similar injury, with his neck problem. And he just gives the ropes of how to maintain it and how to keep it healthy and not let it strain.
Q: Is he teaching you at all different tackling techniques to protect it?
A: I’m trying to get everything that man knows about this game. It’s not just tackling. It’s everything to keep my body safe, but at the same time allow me to do my job at a fast pace.
Q: You’re making it a point to be that sponge for everything he (Ed Reed) says. What is the value to you?
A: I mean, it’s just like anybody, just like, you have a role model or a person you look up to that’s teaching you a lot of things that you don’t know and the guy’s done it all. Hall of Famer, I mean, accolades can go forever. So, why not grasp everything you can from him. He’s doing a great job of not giving me everything at one point, all the secrets he knows. He just -- work on something new everyday. So anything I can do to grasp what he knows, I’m there every second and every point in time.
Q: What’s one of the more enlightening things that he has equipped you with knowledge-wise?
A: Just making this game easier. This game is a lot easier than you expect and knowing your scheme is the biggest thing. If you know your scheme and know your assignment, I mean, your play can be two times, three times faster than just going out there and being athletic and relying on your athleticism. Knowing what everybody does and put you in the right situations. What he did is knowing how everybody works and how you put yourself in a great position. So, he’s been teaching me that.
Q: Putting yourself in your veteran shoes now, what are you trying to pull off that practice tape to help those rookies who are going to be on the field a lot this year?
A: Well, like them I was in the same position, you know, being a rookie and have to start. I mean, it’s a little bit of pressure on you and I know the feeling. So, I’m there for those guys at any point. I don’t want those guys to think that I’m not there to make them better and I’m all for myself. And you know, they’re on the field with me, so if they mess up, I mess up. And overall, it comes back to me because I’m the last line of defense. So, I’m there to help them in any way possible
Q: What is your overall expectation? Are you worried that something can go wrong?
A: At the end of the day it’s my neck. So of course I’m going to worry whenever I see an open field and I know I got to make that tackle but I haven’t had that situation yet for me to worry about it. Right now, I’m just making sure I know all of my assignments, make sure all my guys are in the right spot, and make sure every guy runs to the ball every play. Once again, when that situation happens, if I feel something, we’ll worry about it then. But until then, I can’t worry about it.
Q: Aaron, it seems like so far, communication is really good out there.
A: Yeah. Absolutely.
Q: Is it something you’ve done? Is it more of the coaches helping you? Is it knowing the system better?
A: No, I think it’s everybody being on the same page. I think everybody wanted to do a lot of things in their way and try to make it into one when really, we have to do it the way Rex wants it and when Rex wants it ‘this’ way, we have to find a way for us to find an advantage in our favor. So we always got to come together and be on the same page. I feel like a lot of guys want to do their own. They’re so used to their own technique and we had a lot of different guys come in and out of the season, so it’s kind of hard to work that chemistry with a new person each time. So now, we’re working with the guys that we have here and go from there.
Q: Buying in. Is everybody buying in?
A: Everything’s buying in, man. I mean, I’m sure you guys hear us loud and clear. We don’t look like we don’t know what we’re doing or our heads’ cut off. We’re right there ready to go so it’s been a lot better than last year.
Q: I’m sure you’ve been taking all these mental reps and everything, but how tough will it be to get the speed of the game back? When you actually get on the field again and are out there, how quick will it be to adjust?
A: It won’t be anything because look who I practice against; Tyrod, Karlos, LeSean, Sammy, Robert. All those guys. This is where the hard work is put in. When it’s game time, that’s when it should feel somewhat easier because we’re pushing our bodies to the limit here.
Q: What, if anything, has changed about the defensive scheme in 2016 from last year?
A: Nothing. Nothing really.
Q: Some guys are talking about Rex making it simpler.
A: We all had a discussion about some particular things that weren’t working for us last year that we knew just wasn’t going to happen and we came together and said, “You know, this is how we feel. We understand where you’re coming from, but when we’re out there on the field, ‘this’ is what we see.” And as long as Rex understands, as long as we have that line of communication and as long we’re on the same page, we’ll be fine. It’s not a matter of lets rebut against Rex, you know what I mean? As long as we’re on the same page we’ll be good.
Q: What type of stuff got taken out?
A: You’re going to find out on the field. Hopefully you know football.
Provided by the Buffalo Bills.