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What They Said: Buffalo Bills transcripts of Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor & five others Wednesday

HC Rex Ryan

Opening Statement: Alright, just some general news, obviously—or I don’t know if it’s obvious or not, but Eric Wood won the NFL Man of the Year for our team, and obviously that’s a huge award so congratulations to him on that. I think it’s well deserved. I know what he does in the community, his commitment to the community is really something. We know what this game is all about and you know, what this game represents. You know, the fact we have to win this game to have any hopes of being in the playoffs, we know it starts with this one. This opponent, you know Pittsburgh, they’re playing extremely well and I remember we followed them a couple of times but I’m seeing a team that’s really improved defensively. I think the numbers bear that out. They have not given up more than 14 points in the last three games they played. And you know, they’re kind of mixing in a couple of things. They have the old Pittsburgh defense, the Dick LeBeau stuff with the fire zones and all that kind of stuff and they’re kind of mixing in some, you know, Tomlin Tampa 2 stuff that you see the Buccaneers play so but it’s working for them. They’re doing a really good job on defense, and then offensively, when you have Le’Veon Bell back, you know, what a tremendous back. You know, a guy with size, speed, power and patience. Like that’s a thing when you look at it. You don’t necessarily say that this is, you know the way he looks and sometimes the way he runs with power but the patience is, you don’t necessarily see that in the NFL. So really, you can’t assume this guy is down. We’ve got to do a great job of getting that picket fence out there and corralling this guy. And then, oh by the way, Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Antonio Brown and company as receivers so another big challenge for the defense and we know we’ve got to be at our very best and play our best game you know, to have a shot against these guys. With that, I’ll open it up for questions.

Q: Are you worried that you’ve kind of lost your crowd a little bit and that this home stand won’t be what it would have been if you beat Oakland?

A: No, I think our crowd is going to be into it. I don’t think there’s any doubt that our crowd will be into it. You know, I do understand where you’re coming from about had we have beat Oakland, they sense maybe there’s a better possibility to making a playoff push or whatever. Oh sure, I understand that. But there’s still one right in front of us. We just have to take care of our business, you know so I definitely think our fans will be into it.

Q: What about the challenge of taking down Ben Roethlisberger with his ability to extend plays? Do you have to work on something special at practice this week to make sure you wrap him up that extra little bit because he escapes so much?

A: We do and there’s some other things too. We actually have some guys that quite honestly, I don’t know if we can bring him down. So but there’s other ways to combat that and we’ve got to go after the football. I think is one way and I remember I had a little nickel, weighed about 175 pounds, but he had two or three sacks against him. And he couldn’t tackle, but he kept knocking the ball out. And so if it’s that, or if it’s getting guys around him, and with these guys you’re so right that he’s hard to bring down. So we’ve got to keep our coverage, you’ve got to plaster in the back end. You know how good this guy is at extended plays and he’s been that way for years.

Q: Is there some level of disappointment that LeSean McCoy is having this great of a year and it’s 6-6? Is there some sort of worry that it could become a wasted season?

A: Well, it’s not a wasted season. I mean there’s a reason we’re still in this and he’s a big reason why. You know, the type of year he’s had though really is an amazing year, regardless of the record. Right now where we’re at, this young man’s having an unbelievable season for us. But that’s something that—yeah, I mean for all of us we set our sights on this level, we want to get here, we haven’t reached that level yet, but it doesn’t mean we’re not going to try.

Q: On the other hand, is there a level of disappointment that the passing attack hasn’t been able to complement the running game as much with what LeSean’s been able to do?

A: Well I just think if we’re able to get—there’s no excuse for whatever. Guys step in roles and things like that but for instance, Robert Woods is limited today. I think that’s a positive thing. But it is going to be interesting to see how we’ll perform if you heave a healthy Robert Woods, a healthy Sammy Watkins, a healthy (Marquise) Goodwin to go along with McCoy, what he’s able to do. I think it makes us very hard to defend. Similar to what it is with Pittsburgh. Not only do you have Antonio Brown, but you also have, oh now you have Bell back, now you have guys, you’re getting your tight end back. So these weapons, they make a difference and I think for us, we’ve had struggles in the passing game, but I don’t think there’s anybody in the league that if you take out four or five of their best receivers that—I believe every team would have some issues. 

Q: Back it up to last Sunday where McCoy has this level of game that’s remarkable and to see the loss unfold the way it did, does it make it even more frustrating? It’s hard for everybody to lose the way you did but probably toughest for a guy like that, who poured it out for you.

A: Well there’s no doubt and there’s a lot of guys that poured it out but the type of day that he had, it is tough because this is a guy that’d be the AFC player of the week. There’s many things that go with it. But when you lose the game, I get it. Sometimes he doesn’t get the appropriate attention that he normally would get had we found a way to win that game so I’m sure that is frustrating for him but I know the thing about LeSean, it’s all about the team and he’d much rather trade that type of performance for a win and have a way less impact than having that kind of day in a loss.

Q: With Robert and Marquise potentially playing Sunday, how big of an evaluation is this game going to be for Tyrod?

A: Well I understand the question but I think our focus, just so you understand, it’s about beating Pittsburgh and that’s it. I think everybody will get evaluated at the end of a season or whatever and decisions are going to be made, but I can tell you this: I believe that Tyrod Taylor’s an outstanding quarterback, has a chance to be an outstanding quarterback. But for now, it’s all about this game and what we’re able to do as a football team and finding a way to try to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the way they’re playing right now, this is one of the best teams in the National Football League.

Q: Do you have any idea how many Pittsburgh fans are going to be here? They show up.

A: They show up, there’s no question. That team travels just like we travel. I’m always amazed when we go on the road to see how many Bills fans are out there and it’s impressive. Do I expect the same thing from Steelers fans? Yeah. I’ve played Pittsburgh many times in Baltimore, twice a year and all that stuff, so I’m very aware of how well their fan-base travels and it’s impressive but I have a feeling we’re going to be drowning them out with our fans. Our fans will be ready to go.

Q: Tomlin is a guy that seems to like the two-point conversion. What is your philosophy? Do you agree with it, using the two-point conversion at odd points of the game and not just the end?

A: I think sometimes there’s a lot of things that go into it, a lot of factors go into it. He’s had some issues in the kicking game a couple of years ago where it was probably like he was going to go for it every snap anytime he was down there, but you’d have to ask him. He’s going to do, obviously, what’s best for his football team based on his personnel and I would do the same here. So I’m not going to say that absolutely I will be opposed to it, but I think when you look at the numbers you’d say that I am opposed for that, that I would go for one. But I’d never say never.

Q: Have you looked at the analytics on it though?

A: Well there’s times that you do it, there’s no doubt, and sometimes your opponent—I used to do it to where it was a—I would set it up for more of an end of the game situation even if you’re in a tie game. I’ve looked at it that way. But I feel that with us, there’s a lot of times where I feel really good about kicking the extra point and going up or having a seven point situation instead of getting six and do you go for that chance? Sometimes, especially early in games, it’s obvious that I like to kick the extra point.

Q: What’s the approach with Sammy as far as the whole pain tolerance thing? It didn’t look like he was entirely there for the duration of last game. What do you see and what is your understanding of how it’s going for him?

A: Well I can just tell you what Sammy said. Sammy felt better after this game physically than he did the first game. So I think that’s a good thing. How much better he’s going to get? I’m not sure, but the fact that he’s out there and he’s playing, I think it helps us. How much better he’s going to get from this point on? I don’t know.

Q: How would you evaluate Tyrod Taylor?

A: I think Tyrod’s had a lot of really good games for us and like our football team, maybe he’s had some games that aren’t quite to that level, but that’s how I feel about him.

Q: A lot of people have been putting a lot of pressure on Tyrod. Do you think this criticism is fair?

A: Well, I’ve noticed that. Almost every question and everything else, it’s about evaluating. Quite honestly, this is strictly about us getting ready for Pittsburgh, and that’s where it is. Everybody has a right to their opinions about not just Tyrod, but any situation. We’re in sports, and that’s the beauty of it. Again, this is strictly about Pittsburgh.

Q: What was your reaction when Sammy said after the game that players were losing their composure and that they were yelling and getting riled up on the sidelines?

A: Well, I think there’s a lot of frustration. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, because you’re seeing a lead that you worked incredibly hard to get just evaporate on us in a matter of minutes. That’s sometimes hard to take, but at the same time, that’s when you’ve got to step up and be at your very best and say, “no, let’s stop the bleeding.” That’s what we needed to do, and we weren’t successful at it.

Q: Rex, is there a more dominating trio than Big Ben, Antonio [Brown], and LeVeon Bell?

A: Good question. Man oh man, if there is, it’d be scary.

Q: Rex, is Ronald Darby out of the concussion protocol?

A: Yeah, I’ll go over those, I’m sorry. I’ll go over those, guys. Guys that will not practice today: [Lerentee] McCray is in the concussion protocol; Cordy Glenn, with his back [injury], will not practice; Sammy Watkins, foot; and then [Lorenzo] Alexander, it’s a non-football related – it’s kind of a veteran day – off, he won’t practice today.

Q: Sorry, you said Watkins is not practicing?

A: Yes, and again – this is a projected whether they will or not. Guys that will be limited today will be [Robert] Woods with a knee [injury]; Darby, concussion – so he is out of the protocol, obviously; [Charles] Clay, with his knee [injury], will be limited; and then Tyrod is full with his groin injury.

Q: How much concern is there with Sammy in terms of the game on Sunday?

A: I think we just take it through the week. He’s been able to go. This is kind of what it looks like through the week, and as I mentioned – I think he felt better after this game than he did this past week, so hopefully he’ll be ready to roll.

Q: Would it be different if you were eliminated from playoff contention?

A: You know what, for me to think about it right now, I don’t think it’s appropriate because I’m sitting back and – this is where we are and we’re ready to roll on this team and we know the importance of beating this football team, so that’s where it is.

QB Tyrod Taylor

Q: Can you explain how important LeSean McCoy is for your offense?

A: Shady’s been making tremendous plays game-in and game-out as far as finding running lanes, making guys miss and even catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s definitely been one of our go-to guys. Definitely our playmaker for our offense.

Q: I know Robert Woods was limited today. Can you just maybe explain the process of getting the timing back? You had a good connection before the injury. What’s the process of getting that back like?

A: I don’t think that we’ll lose timing, it’s more so just him getting back out there and getting back in gam-ready condition. He looked well today in practice, he told me yesterday he ran routes for the first time since injuring his knee, that he felt good. It’s more so just a trust factor of him going out there and playing freely. I had that injury and I understand the difficulty of it as far as coming back but as long as he goes out there and plays free, he’ll find the right window to get open to and I’ll get him the ball.

Q: Rex mentioned this week that you haven’t had your top four or five receivers for most of the season. How tough has that been?

A: It’s been a battle but like I’ve said, guys have worked through it. We haven’t complained once, we’ve just tried to find ways to win each and every week. Injuries happen in this league and it’s unfortunate and we’ve dealt with it and have to continue to keep pressing forward.

Q: How does that affect how you practice?

A: Just getting reps with different people. For a couple of weeks it’s definitely having different guys in, different guys out but like I said, to our offensive scheme and as far as what we want to get out there and do on Sundays, that stays the same. It’s just about getting the right players and guys that we feel can make plays in those positions out there on the field.

Q: You’re playing a team this week that likes to go for the two-point conversions in unconventional ways. You guys are four-for-four in those situations, though you’ve only gone for it when you had to do it. Would you like to maybe take some chances early in the game just to go after it and see where that takes you?

A: You definitely have to be smart when going for the two-point conversion. If there’s snow coming in, as far as the weather you never know as far as kicking conditions if that’s a reason to go for a two-point conversion but we’ll see and we’ll deal with that when it happens.

Q: I’m not sure if you’ve been aware of it or not, but you’ve been under some heat from fans and members of the media this past week. Do you have any thoughts on that as far as your performance against Oakland?

A: Nope. I don’t have Instagram on my phone, Twitter, I don’t watch TV so I don’t see it. Don’t hear it. Continue to keep pounding away. We’re still in it the last time I checked.

Q: Do you feel that time is running out on you to show the Bills that you should have your option picked up last year?

A: We’re still in it.

Q: It’s all about wins and losses.

A: For sure. In this league you get judged for wins and losses and we still have a chance to get to where we set our goal, (which) was to get to the playoffs at the beginning of the year. We still have a realistic chance of getting there so whatever it takes to get there, that’s what I’m on board for.

Q: Long-term concerns…

A: This week fellas, this week. We’re talking about this week.

Q: The fact that you’re 6-6 and 14-12 in your career, is that enough…

A: This week. That’s all that matters. We’re not talking about contracts. This week.

Q: After Sunday’s loss, you were asked about the game and in most cases you were one-word, two-words in your answers. Now you’ve seen the film and studied that. Can you explain from your standpoint where you think it went wrong for you?

A: Definitely left some plays out there on the field. Could’ve been some better balls thrown, we could’ve made some plays in the air. It was definitely a collective effort. It wasn’t good enough. There’s no finger pointing and we just have to learn from it and I think we did, watching that film and breaking it down and talking about it man-to-man throughout the offense, where we could get better at and I think we definitely have the right mindset moving forward.

Q: Those of us who have been critical would point out that a quarterback should stand up there and say it’s on me too as much as it’s on anyone else. The fact that you didn’t do that brought you some heat in that respect. Is that fair in your mind? Is that maybe something you’ve thought about…

A: I’ve taking everything that you all stood up here and asked me right on the chest. It doesn’t affect me emotionally or physically. I take it every week so whatever you all want to blame, I’ll take that. Like I said, my job is to get the team in a position where we could win on Sundays. And can I get better? Yes, but it doesn’t just take me. It’s a collective effort right down the field each and every Sunday.

Q: Were you frustrated in this game, you came on eight-of-nine and passing heavy in the first quarter. I know you ran the ball great this game but you, as a quarterback, do you wish you would’ve kept with that passing game given the start you had? It seemed like once the first quarter was done you just relied on the run and you maybe fell out of rhythm. Were you frustrated with the play-calling and game-planning as the game progressed?

A: No. Coach (Anthony) Lynn (offensive coordinator) had a great plan going into that game and we did a bad job of executing it down the stretch. Our plan early on was to do some of the things that we did. We started running the ball well, Shady got going so we just tried to find a balance. And like I said, it was just more of a lack of execution from me and from the rest of the guys down the stretch. I really think that’s what hurt us.

Q: What is the prospect of having Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin on the field together for the first time in months? How much do you look forward to that if it happens?

A: I’m excited to have those guys on the field healthy and playing. Those guys are ready to go out there and make plays, you could just tell by the way they were bouncing around today in practice. Guys realize what’s at stake, the type of attention to detail that we need for the next four weeks but it starts with this week and it starts with next practice. Learn from the stuff that we learned today and just continue to keep pounding forward and paying attention, like I said, to detail.

Q: Mike Tomlin talked about the relationship with you and your family and your dad a little bit today on our conference call. Can you speak to that a little bit?

A: Coach Tomlin has been a great friend of the family, been a great mentor to me since I was young. My dad actually grew up with Coach Tomlin’s brother, Ed Tomlin, and it’s kind of a 757 thing, just the feeling that you get when you’re around people from back home but I mean he’s done a tremendous job as far as his coaching career has gone in the National Football League. Like I said, just a great dude overall and thankful for the way he’s mentored me throughout my time.

Q: Given the injuries you’ve had at receiver, do you think it’s unfair to critique or judge the performance of this offense and yourself?

A: Critics are going to critique. It’s in their job title.

Q: So you don’t think that it’s unfair then?

A: I mean, whether it’s unfair or not it’s going to happen. Just have to deal with it, ignore it, continue to keep playing football. I don’t let those things affect me though. Like I said, whether I think it’s fair or not it’s going to happen.

Q: You’ve been limited because you have limited guys to work with.

A: Like I said, I’ve never complained, we’ve never complained as a team. We’ve found a way to put ourselves in the position we are right now, which is a realistic goal of the playoffs, playing important football in December. After the year we can talk about injuries and all that but right now, it’s on the Pittsburgh Steelers and what it takes to win this week.

Q: Why do you shy away from talking about your future in Buffalo?

A: Because my future in Buffalo is this week and against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s what matters the most. I don’t feel like talking about my contract right now. We still have games to play.

Q: Coming from the Ravens, you’ve seen this team a lot. Is their blueprint on defense the same or have they changed a lot over the years?

A: They’ve changed some things around over the years. Personnel has definitely changed but it’s still a very tough, physical group. Going against this bunch, you definitely have to bring your hardhat I would say. And they play very good football on the road and at home, so just have to be prepared for a disciplined group and go out there and make plays.

LB Lorenzo Alexander

 

Q: What is it about this franchise and not making the playoffs? Some franchises can do it consistently, but others struggle.

A: I mean that’s probably something totally different because I don’t feel like this team has anything to do with the, you know, 2005 Buffalo Bills. You know obviously there are certain franchises that have, historically, they built their team through the draft, and have a consistency of winning and it’s just kind of built into their make-up. Obviously this team was that at one point, I mean you go to four straight Super Bowls, I mean that’s a huge time difference, you know, from when that occurred to now. So a lot of things can happen now. It’s up to us to create that now. We’re a very young team if you look at it from top to bottom. So this experience right here could be the start of something new. That’s what we’re trying to do and trying to establish. Take seize of it right now, this opportunity that we have. If we can do that, things start to turn around. It’s the same thing with the Raiders. I mean they’ve been historically bad for the last 10-15 years too. And now they have a lot of young talent and they figure out how to win games and we have make that next step and if we want to find ourselves in the same predicament as far as finding a playoff berth.

Q: What was the key to the Raiders turning it around?

A: I mean the thing that they’ve been able to do this year is win the close games, which we haven’t been able to do. I mean when it comes down to whether it’s two minute or four minute getting off the field and securing the game, they found ways to win and we haven’t. So I mean that’s a growing experience, a learning experience, you know, from everybody. We have a pretty young team so just going through that, you learn how to win in those situations later on and hopefully we take everything we learn this year and being able to pour it all out starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers and being able to finish them off in a four quarter game.

Q: You looked pretty vocal on Monday in the shortcomings of this team. Have you guys had meetings to talk about some of those things?

A: We’ve just continued to address it all year, continue to harp on the little things that win games, because when we are great, we exceed at those things as far as communicating and executing the gameplan, and when we don’t, you get out there, there’s the “I didn’t hear you,” or there’s the miscommunication, a breakdown in technique, and we tend to get beat. It’s all about consistency in this league and you are going to get beat but you have to win more than you lose.

HC LeSean McCoy 

Q: After a game like last week, was it particularly frustrating for you after going out there and still losing by 14 points. Individually, for you, how tough was that?

A: Real tough because you win games like that. I’ve never been around a game where we kind of dominated the whole game – for most of the game – for it to unfold like that. That’s real tough to digest. That team was really good. 10-2. If you didn’t watch the game, you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. We kind of did whatever we wanted as far as offense. We just – at the end we didn’t put it together. There were different plays that I missed that we needed [for a] spark that I didn’t provide. We can definitely get better for sure, but a game like that is hard because we should’ve won that game.

Q: The other day, [Jerome] Felton was saying that he thinks – he blocked for Adrian Peterson in his 2,000-yard season – he thinks that this rushing attack and the way you do it is the best one he’s ever been a part of. You’ve played on some pretty good rushing teams in Philly. Can you make a comparison there?

A: This probably is the best, I think, because we do so many different things. I think the Steelers are preparing for tons of different reads, tons of different plays that we run. I mean, we have a formation and we can run five to six running plays and the defense has to account for all of that. Where in other places, I’ve been there and if you see a type of formation that you recognize from watching tape, [there’s an] 80-percent chance that’s the play you’ll get, where here it’s a lot different. Also, our quarterback is very mobile. He’s very athletic, so he helps out in the running game.

Q: There’s a concern that as well as you’re playing – you, yourself are playing as a running back and leading this offense – there are criticisms against Tyrod Taylor for not holding up his end as a passer in the passing game. I’m not sure if that’s fair, but what do you think of that?

A: I don’t think that’s fair. I mean, there are some plays that we’ve missed. There’s plays that we drop passes for Tyrod, there’s different situations in the game where it’s not his fault. Another thing is one of our best players on offense – I mean, you can make an argument he is the best player on offense – he’s been hurt for most of the whole year. All the top quarterbacks that get talked about have a mainstream guy that no matter what, [he’s] going to him. There [are] no excuses. That’s the one thing that I like about Tyrod. If he plays bad or plays good, he’s the same person. I like that because I’m the same way. If I play bad, I’m not afraid to say I played bad because I know who I am. Tyrod’s the same way. He’s confident. The good thing about him is that a lot of people are taking shots and that’s all opinion-based. I stand behind him, because I’m in the same locker room with him. I watch the same tape. Are there plays that he’s missed? Yeah. Are there plays that I’ve missed? Yeah. But overall, that’s not his fault, and I think a big reason is, from a collective group effort, there are some plays that you won’t see. There are runs that, if I get stopped, people will think, “Oh, the line didn’t block.” It could be the wrong cut, but you don’t know that. There are drops that Tyrod hasn’t – you know, it’s not his fault. I think one of the big reasons is – I can tell you this: when the defense comes in here and Sammy Watkins is not up, I mean that helps them out. That’s in their favor. When he’s out there, it’s a big difference.

Q: LeSean, you’ve got a lot of football ahead of you. There are only so many runs and plays. You had this great production in Oakland. Does it ever occur to you that – and then the outcome being what it was – do you feel like it got wasted in any way? You couldn’t have played any harder, you couldn’t have done much more, and the result was one of frustration for you. You’ve had an outstanding season. Do you worry that it’s not going to pay off the way you want it to?

A: What do you mean by that? Pay off in –

Q: The wins. Pay off in wins, is what I mean.

A: Well the only thing I can do right now is continue to play well and hopefully we get a chance in the playoffs. You never second-guess the effort. I’ve been playing this game since I was five years old. I’ve got a nose to compete no matter [whether we] win or lose. I’m doing my best to win. And my body, I feel fine. Do you mean health-wise, also? Or just playing and not winning?

Q: At some point, it looked like – as much as possible – you were putting that team on your back. I mean, you were carrying –

A: Like I said, there were some plays that I wish I had back. I can think of two, for sure, last week that gave them a different spark. I made the wrong cut trying to make something happen when the offense was stalled out and I could have put in a nice chunk. There’s always room for improvement. I had a good game and I thought I played well and I think the guys up front really dominated, but there were some plays in that game where I didn’t maximize the most in [some] plays that could’ve been a difference. We’ve all got room for improvement. I think [in a] game like that, when the team is storming back with a really, really good quarterback on their side, I think you’ve got to, as a whole, you’ve got to stick it out and get it done.

Q: LeSean, you were as involved in the pass game as you’ve been as a member of the Bills. Do you wish that was the case more often? Your first year, especially, you weren’t really utilized much in the pass game. Do you hope that you’re going to be more in the pass game moving forward?

A: We have a lot of different plays for me to get the ball in the pass game. We always want our matchup. I think the first two plays last week came to me in the pass game. We had Khalil Mack on me, so that was a no-brainer. I was getting the ball. We have a lot of wide receivers and we have [Charles] Clay so guys have to get the ball also. It’s all about matchup-based. I would love to get the ball in the open field and the pass game, but I understand that we’re a team. Other guys have to get their share of work.

Q: Because you went to [The University of Pittsburgh], you’re very familiar with the Steelers franchise. You practiced at the same practice field and everything. You had the same facility as them. Is this game just a little bit more special because you’re really familiar with that Steelers franchise?

A: A little bit. I’m really tight with [Antonio Brown]. I’m really good friends with [Mike] Tomlin. A couple of their scouts I know very well. But it’s not – I wouldn’t say I played as a Steeler so it’s not the same. And I’m not playing in Pittsburgh. We’re playing in Buffalo. It’s just a must-win type of game. If we want any chance to get in [to the playoffs], we’ve got to do our part, and that’s win games. We’ve got to win this game for sure.

Q: Last year, around this time, you were struggling with staying healthy and missing time. You’re healthy now and you’re going through this, so you must feel like a whole different player than you did a year ago when you were still – you still had what was considered a Pro Bowl season – but to be on the field. Just compare the two situations.

A: I think the two situations – both years I was confident in myself. This year, I’m more comfortable. Two years in the same place is everything. Just being comfortable in the building, with my teammates, also just being healthy. That was just really it. Playing-wise, just being one hundred percent. That’s, I think, the biggest difference.

Q: How did Jerome Felton play, especially last week –

A: Not even last week. I mean, last week was a big, big game for him, but his whole season has been really good. Last week, he was kind of banged up a little bit. He didn’t really talk about it, but he’s night and day. When they cut him, he kind of got pissed off, but Jerome’s blowing people up. Some of these runs, guys are kind of getting out of the way [because they’re] scared of him. And the way that the line is blocking and you add Jerome Felton? He’s probably playing as the best fullback in the league right now. For sure, first team All-Pro.

Q: In Philadelphia – and you’re familiar with the Steelers – good teams and playoff teams win and are successful in this final four-game stretch. The Bills haven’t been, which is one of the reasons they haven’t made the playoffs in this long. How much does that culture need to change to be able to win-out these last four games – something the Bills have not done?

A: Just got to tighten up. I think the biggest thing [is to] tighten up as a team – on defense, on offense, special teams – play good together, collectively. I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re going to run the ball well and we’ve got to make those plays where the offense stalls out and we need somebody to pick it up. I think I did better there – and then just turnovers and penalties. Those are just things you can’t have. You’ve got to run the ball well in December, you’ve got to play good defense, you can’t have turnovers, and your special teams have to play well. Those are just the main keys.

Q: I know you don’t play against LeVeon [Bell], but when you see a great back like that on the other side of the game, does it give you a little extra motivation going in there? Obviously, you’re a competitive guy and you want to show that you’re still one of the elite backs as well.

A: Yeah, you’re right. I think that’s always a challenge. In this game, we all compete. So yeah, I look forward to watching him play. I think he’s really good. But we’ve got to win the game. If I have 190 [yards] and we lose and he has 50 yards and they win – you see what I’m saying? It’s cool to win and have big yards, but we have to win the game – not just win the individual battle.

Q: What’s the state of the locker room right now?

A: We’re good. We’re going in there positive, optimistic about this game with a chance to win.

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman

Q: You often come off the edge and get after the quarterback. With a guy like Ben [Roethlisberger], though, how tough is it for a guy your size to bring him down? Rex [Ryan] even joked that he has guys on his team that aren’t big enough to bring him down.

A: Right. I’m going to let you know right now, I’m not big enough to bring him down. I’m definitely going to need Kyle [Williams], Jerry [Hughes], and the cavalry to come and help me out a little bit. I’m going to need everybody to come help me out. I might be able to pull down his shoulder sleeve, but that’s about it. I’m going to need everybody else to come with me. If I get a sack, I won’t be alone.

Q: So would you go for the ball in that situation?

A: Yes. Definitely. Definitely going for the ball.

Q: Is there anybody more talented or more fearful as a defensive back right now than trying to cover Antonio Brown right now?

A: I mean, he’s hot right now. He’s hot right now. I look at it like, you know, if you can stop him, it will make you look good as well. It is a challenge. It’s not easy at all. He does a lot with his routes. He might have a dig route, you might think it’s a dig, but you’ll turn around and he might whip right back out. That’s the type of stuff he likes to do. Double moves and a lot of option routes and stuff like that. He runs every route in the book. You could tell that him and Ben have a great relationship. If [Brown] isn’t getting the ball, somebody else – I don’t know what other guy – but [Brown] is the main target. That’s who we’re looking to take out of the game.

 

DT Kyle Williams

Q: Is there a way you have to adjust to pursue Ben Roethlisburger versus another quarterback?

A: You just have to be more mindful when you get to him. Just really wrapping him up the best that you can as much as you can think about in that millisecond. So just getting prepared and practicing what you want to do on Sunday.

Q: How hard is it—or is it hard at all—to make sure everyone understands this game and not running for the bus, so to speak? Some guys may get to the point where they’re like “hey we’re not really in it.” But you know you’re still in it.

A: Yeah I think it’s been communicated, you know, what’s in front of us, and it helps to play a really good football team with a great reputation in the history of success, like the Steelers coming in here. So I don’t think anybody is going to shy away from the challenge, or anybody is going to be running for the hills or the bus or whatever you want to call it. So we’ll make sure that guys are prepared, guys are ready to go and be able to put our best foot forward on Sunday.

Q: Is that one of the things you take upon yourself as a veteran leader here? You remind other guys about that? Is it necessary? Do you have to?

A: Well the hope is that it’s not necessary. You know, hopefully guys can see it and view it and know that we have another great challenge this weekend. But in case it’s not, driven in, we’ll drive the point home.

WR Robert Woods

Q: Tyrod takes a lot of heat for the lack of passing game this season. Is it unfair because of all of the injuries to the receivers?

A: Yeah it’s unfair. I mean a lot of guys go down with injuries, you know, banged up. You know, we’re missing our starting center. But I mean there’s outside pressure and we don’t even look into that, think about that. Just play our game, play ball, and try to win games.

Q: Was today an ease yourself in kind of day?

A: Yeah, me personally, first practice so just trying to you know, get comfortable. Feel out the brace and figure out how I’m going to play. But that was most of the thing today, just going out there and feel just being able to move first day back.

Q: If you play on Sunday, is it your intention to keep the brace on?

A: I mean we’ll see. It’s still early in the week to say. I mean I like to play (with) no ankle brace, no ankle tape. Just go out there and be free of a knee brace and all that. Just feel fast but I mean we’ll see how the week goes and how we progress from here.

Provided by the Buffalo Bills.

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