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What They Said: Buffalo Bills transcripts of newcomers Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer & Mike Tolbert

S Micah Hyde

Q: Tell us, what it was that brought you here – the situation, besides the contract numbers-

A: Well, I think first off, just talking to my agent, the respect that Coach [Sean] McDermott and the [Doug] Whaley family had for me. I’ve always said that once I had the opportunity to get into free agency, if it would come, that I would want to be respected. Put the numbers aside, I felt that coming into it. It’s a blessing to be here.

Q: What type of role have they discussed with you? I know you’ve moved around and played a lot of different positions. What role do you envision for yourself?

A: You know what, we talked a little bit – shortly – earlier, and basically it’s whatever I can do to help the team. They know I’m a versatile guy and I can do a bunch of different things, whether it’s return, safety, corner, nickel position – or whatever it may be. I’m here to help the football team and I want to win. I know that’s the culture that’s being built around here and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Q: What did you take out of the three or four years in Green Bay and the highs that you went through, and lows, and the fact that Aaron Rodgers tweeted out to you yesterday and gave you a big good luck post?

A: Well, I think that just goes to show that the atmosphere there was close, and I’m starting to feel the same thing here. Talking to the coaching staff, they’re relaying the message down to the players to have that playoff mentality. We want to win, we want to stick together, we want to be helping each other day in and day out. I definitely feel that coming here. But in Green Bay, we were close. It’s Green Bay. There’s not much to do but be close with your teammates so I think that’s what put us over the edge.

Q: Versatility is what has defined you as an NFL player. You obviously embrace that, but explain how that comes to be – doing these different roles and keeping it all straight in your head. What’s it like to be you and be able to do all these different things?

A: Yeah, well I think it’s a blessing and a curse. I may say, or whoever may say, just because it’s a blessing if somebody is hurt, I can play a different position. But it’s a curse because some people think that I’m not great at one position. Where it started – I’ve done it my whole life. Growing up [in a] small town, playing every position on the football field in high school, not coming off the field, and then that kind of translated into college. Playing corner and being a returner and then in the League, I’m kind of doing the same thing. It’s not new to me. You guys might see it as something I’ve developed over the last couple years but it’s something I’ve done my whole life.

Q: Didn’t you split up a lot of meeting time? I mean, you bounce around to a lot of different meeting rooms, unlike other teammates in Green Bay.

A: Yeah, and I think it slowly got to the point where I was kind of the middle-man. Obviously, the coaches are going to coach, but to be on the field is a different aspect. I was on the field with a lot of different guys, different teammates. To be that guy – the voice of reasoning between the rooms and stuff like that – sometimes you need that. I was able to provide that and that was something I definitely took pride in.

Q: Micah, you and Jordan [Poyer] both come in here kind of at the same time. Both of you guys are pretty versatile players, in terms of different roles and stuff. Do you think that kind of sheds light on what the expectation is going to be for you guys, with respect to the defense?

A: For sure – one hundred percent. Just talking to [Coach McDermott] briefly, that being able to play different positions is key in the defense that we’re trying to put through this season. You might be lined up at one position – you might be lined up at safety, but you might be playing different techniques and you’ve got to be able to do that. That’s my game. That’s what I’ve done throughout the years and I can’t speak for Jordan, but if he had that same conversation with the coaches then I would think that he would take pride in that too.

Q: Is it kind of unique that you two guys get to come in together and kind of learn this thing the same way, with what will probably be similar type of roles. What might be the benefits there, having somebody to bounce things off of as you both learn it together?

A: Well, we can learn from each other. I think that’s the best thing. I make mistakes, he’ll learn from them. He makes mistakes, I’ll learn from them. The funny thing is, we have a mutual friend that’s pretty close to both of us, so we kind of knew each other going into this whole thing and it was funny to see it pan out this way. I’m looking forward to him.

Q: Micah, if somebody called you on the streets and asked “what position do you play?” how would you answer?

A: I’m a defensive back that returns punts. That’s what I do.

Q: You’ve thought about that question before, haven’t you?

A: I have. I have. Yeah, I definitely have. I’ve been asked that plenty of times, and I’ve said nickel, wait – no. Maybe safety, wait, no. I don’t have an exact answer for it, so it’s just defensive back.

Q: Well, I know you kind of say it’s both a blessing and curse – I understand that. But the way the game is played today, doesn’t it seem like there are more guys who can excel and have your skill set because of the matchups that offenses try to create with the hybrid tight ends?

A: For sure. I agree with that a hundred percent. Sometimes, me being critiqued and stuff like that, people might see it as a curse. But I agree with you and I feel like if there are guys on the football field – in the secondary, or not even just secondary, whether it’s a linebacker who can cover – you see those linebackers coming out a lot. But guys that can play different positions and can play them well, coaches are going to make room for them on their defense.

Q: You talk about a mutual friend with Jordan. Anybody we might know?

A: Christian Kirksey from the Browns. I played with him at Iowa and he played with Poyer at the Browns for multiple years. He actually stays with me out in San Diego, so we got to know each other through a mutual friend and it’s kind of brought us here to Buffalo today.

Q: How familiar are you with what Carolina was doing on defense under Sean and are you aware of – I’m not sure if you guys played them at all or-

A: Yeah, we did. We played them a few times. But at the same time, just having a talk with [Coach McDermott], having a talk with some of the coaches upstairs, I’ve got a better understanding of what might be coming for the upcoming season.

Q: So, expand on that. What’s your sense of how this thing will work, or just picture it in your mind from where you came from under Dom Capers to this. What are some of the core philosophical things that you’ve picked up?

A: Well, I think it goes along with any defense in the league. Obviously, we need to create turnovers. That’s key. Tackle well, play fundamentally sound football. Not give up any big plays, any big runs, anything like that. Make the offense earn what they – earn points or earn yards, or whatever it may be. But I just think you can go to any defense around the league and say “we want to tackle well, we want to create turnovers,” but it’s just a matter of doing it.

Q: You’re coming from a team that has a tradition of winning to a team with the longest playoff drought in the NFL. Coach McDermott has talked about changing the culture here. How do you see yourself fitting into that?

A: You know, I’m just going to do whatever I can to help this team win. Whether that’s play different positions, be in the locker room trying to help guys on and off the field, bringing us closer – that’s just what I’m here for. Try to be a leader, try to be a voice of reason – like I said earlier – between rooms or between positions or whatever. I’m looking forward to it. I’m so excited for what’s coming and what I can bring to the table to help this team win.

Q: You come from Green Bay, though, where they had Aaron [Rodgers] on the other side of the ball – guys who have been there who have been who are a bit more vocal leaders. Are you more of that? What’s your style of leadership?

A: I can’t necessarily say that I’ll be more vocal, because there are times where I’ve had to be a vocal leader. I think the perfect example is last year when I had to go into the [cornerbacks] room because we were young. I think a second-year guy was the oldest in there. I had to go in there and kind of be more of a vocal leader. I think that sometimes, coaches are put in bad positions because they’re not on the field with the players. I think I was able to, once again, be the voice of reason to the young guys so sometimes it’s just doing it by example. I think throughout the year, I developed in Green Bay to be that leader, whether if it’s player counsel guy or a player representative for the NFLPA – just stuff like that. Whenever guys have questions for me, I’ll try to answer it. If I don’t have the answer for them right away, I’ll go find the answer, whether it’s on the football field or wherever. I think that’s where I can help guys.

Q: Micah, what other connections do you have inside the Bills locker room? Players you might have played with or guys you know?

A: I’ve definitely heard – you know, the NFL is a fraternity. We were just joking upstairs, back in the day guys wanted to tear each others’ heads off and not talk to each other after four games but now it’s different. We go out there and compete and then you’ve got a good friend that’s good friends with this guy and knows this guy, and so everyone hears about each other. I’ve heard about a lot of the guys on this football team and I’m excited to go to work with them. I’ve played with [Jerel] Worthy up in Green Bay and he played with my brother up at Michigan State. That’s the one connection that is sticking out in my mind right now.

Q: What do you know about playing here? In Green Bay, did you ever play in Buffalo on the road?
A: Yeah, I did. I think it was back in 2015. We came up here and got beat. Tough defense. Very good game – [a] tough game. Buffalo played well. It was a real fun game to be a part of. The crowd was electric and stuff like that. I think that that was kind of what brought me here. I understand that the Packers have very good fans but the Bills have very good fans also. Obviously, both cities are cold. I can’t get away from the cold. I’m from Ohio and I went to Iowa. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Apparently I like it. Like I said, I’m just excited to be here and to be a part of this football team.

Q: Did you have other options out there that you were exploring before you decided to come to Buffalo?

A: I had other options, but at the end of the day, it’s about the respect. Just talking to my agent and hearing what’s going on – hear at this camp about what they want me to do or how they like me – it was just respect. I’m not saying I didn’t have that in past years and all that stuff, but the Bills were there, talked to my agent a lot, and I felt like there was definitely a connection there.

Q: How do you feel those three years in Green Bay and all the experiences that you’ve had helped build your confidence, going from a fifth-round pick to where you are right now, and how much more prepared do you think you are for this next chapter of your life now that you have this base behind you?

A: Well, I just think that it’s something – I hate to keep talking about my whole career, but it’s just something that I’ve always developed. I’ve never been that highly rated guy, five stars, eight stars – whatever the stars are up to now. I [was] never that player coming out of high school. I’ve always had to work for what I’ve earned and I think this is the same example. I’ve had to work for it, but at the end of the day I’m never going to be complacent. I’m never going to be done. I’m always going to try to work to try to be the best player I can be and put my teammates in the best position possible to make plays and win ballgames because at the end of the day, that’s all I really care about.

Q: You talked about the fraternity of the NFL and knowing the other players that have talked, what do you know about Sean McDermott and who he is as a coach, and maybe some of those things that you’ve heard that makes you want to play for him?

A: You know, just talking to my agent, he told me a bunch of stories about guys that he even knows, that he’s talked to. He’s talked to a lot of guys around the league. He knows a lot of guys. They all said the same thing – just how special of a guy he is. I’m pretty close with Juan Castillo. I played with his son at Iowa, and my agent just mentioned that Juan was buying at the bits to coach with Sean. That’s all I needed to hear because I know what type of guy Juan is, I know what type of guy his son is, and it translates. It’s a special opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to it.

Q: You joked about cold weather climates and how you can’t stand it, but do you think in some way that’s kind of helped you throughout your career? You see a lot of players that come from the south that can’t make the adjustment. Can you speak to that at all?

A: I guess I can’t say it’s helped me throughout the years. I really don’t know. Am I used to it? Does anybody really get used to the cold? Running full speed and trying to hit somebody – it doesn’t feel good. But at the same time, I’ve learned what to wear in the cold. What type of turtlenecks, what types of material – stuff like that. So I guess that’s benefitted me throughout the years.

S Jordan Poyer


Q: What are some of the things that attracted you to this opportunity?

A: I mean, just the environment. Buffalo – playing in Cleveland the last four years, it’s right on the other side of the lake. The football fans out here are just unreal and you hear about it around the league. It’s an exciting place to play football, I’m excited about the opportunity that I have here and I’m just excited to get going.

Q: You worked with Coach Bobby Babich in Cleveland. You always want those connections, right?

A: Of course. I’m excited to work with Bobby again, I’m excited to work with Coach (Gill) Byrd (defensive backs coach). Bobby and I, he was in Cleveland the first couple of years I was out there, so I was able to kind of be coached by him out there. He’s a great coach, definitely learned a lot of football from him, so definitely, like I said, I’m excited about the opportunity to be out here. Excited about the opportunity to work with the guys and win football games.

Q: What was your rehab process like?

A: Really, it was just rest. I lacerated my kidney (in) week six. They just told me rest was the biggest thing that I needed. Fully healthy now, 100 percent, ready to go and like I said, I’m excited to get on the field and start playing football games.

Q: That hit seemed like the hit they’re trying to take out of the game. What were the moments after like?

A: I mean, it was a pretty scary situation. We all know when we lace our cleats up on Sunday what could happen out there on the football field. It’s a bang-bang play, he just kind of caught me in a position where maybe I should have had my head on a swivel. Bang-bang play and it happens in the game of football but initially I just thought I lost my breath. But I was able to get up and walk away from it and come back and now I’m standing here fully healthy and ready to go play football.

Q: You played both safety positions and done some returning. With Micah Hyde, who was also signed, he brings versatility to the defense too. Is versatility a trait needed in Sean McDermott’s defense? Is it a strength of your game?

A: Definitely. I’m here to play where they put me, play where I fit. Like I said, I’m excited about the opportunity. Wherever they have me, whatever they want me to do, I’m willing to do it. I believe that I could return punts. I think every athlete believes they can do everything out there. I’m just here, wherever they want to put me, wherever they think I’m suited best, I’m excited for it.

Q: Is it an advantage to be coming into a new system with another safety in Micah? You too also have a mutual friend.

A: Yeah, it’s funny. Micah and I, it’s weird how we met because Christian Kirksey was my teammate out in Cleveland and they both went to Iowa together so I had flown out to San Diego two off-seasons ago and I met Micah out there. He’s a great dude, great football player and I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited to play alongside him. I think we can both learn a lot from each other. I’ve watched a lot of his tape. I think both of us (are), like I said, versatile players. He’s a great athlete, he’s a great player and he’s going to help this team win football games.

Q: When did you make the decision to switch to football full-time from baseball?

A: That’s a long story. But long story short, in college I was playing both baseball and football. I was doing a lot, grades were kind of slipping up and it was my junior year where I decided to hang up my baseball cleats that I’d continue to pursue my dream of playing football in the NFL. If it wasn’t pursuing my dream of playing football in the NFL, it was definitely going to be the MLB because I was damn good at baseball. You can go back and look at my stats. I was damn good at baseball. I was an outfielder. I just love the game. I love the game of football, I love the work that you put into it and seeing the reward from that. Just being able to stand here in front of you guys and talk to you guys, I mean it’s a blessing in itself. I worked really hard my whole life to just be standing here. Like I said, I’m just really excited about the opportunity to be out here in Buffalo and continue my career.

Q: Coming from Cleveland, a long-suffering franchise and then coming to this club, how do you put that in context? You obviously want a chance to compete for a championship so going from that club to this club, where does that opportunity stand?

A: For one, shoot, I think this is a great opportunity. I mean, this is one of the best opportunities I think I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. For sure. Coming from Cleveland, being out there the last four years, not winning a whole lot of football games, it’s tough. I was telling them earlier, you play this game to win. You put in so much effort and time into your body in the offseason and to not get the results you want is tough. It’s hard to stay motivated but coming out here, like I said, it’s a new opportunity. It’s a new coaching staff, it’s new faces in the locker room, it’s a new opportunity to go out and compete and win games and that’s what I’m here to do.

Q: Were you aware that you and Micah were going to come in at the same time?

A: I was not.

Q: And when you found out, what was your reaction?

A: Like I said, Micah’s a great football player so the Bills got a damn good football player in getting Micah Hyde. I’m excited to work with him and play alongside him and build a relationship with him and win football games. That’s the main thing, that’s why we’re here is to win football games. Whatever I can learn from him, I’m going to take it all in and like I said, and I’m going to continue to keep saying it, it’s a great opportunity to come out here.

Q: When it comes to – how familiar are you with what Sean McDermott has done and what his scheme might be? Is this new to you too?

A: It is a little bit brand new. You learn a new defense almost every season you come into the league. All defenses, almost, are the same. Different terminology, different verbiage, different hand signals – whatever it is. I’m excited to learn the defense and just have the opportunity to be out here and compete and win football games.

Q: The visits that you made here were only two, right? Just in 2014 and during this past season, right?

A: Yeah.

Q: What were your takeaways from playing in this environment?

A: Unbelievable. I don’t even know where the fans come from. I flew in and was just like, “where is everybody?” But they come, you know? They’re out there in the freezing cold, man. It’s unbelievable, man. The atmosphere is loud and that’s one of the reason I was so excited when my agent told me about Buffalo was because of the fan base and because of just the atmosphere out here. It’s a football town and I’m excited to put that red, white and blue on. I promise you that. Best jerseys in the whole entire football league. I’m excited to put those on and excited to have the opportunity to win football games.

Q: What was this process like, being able to hit unrestricted free agency? The uncertainty that comes with it, but obviously there’s some excitement as well.

A: Yeah, it’s the first time going through something like this. Definitely really anxious. Didn’t really know what was really going to happen because of my situation last year, being hurt week six. I just kind of left it in God’s hands and knew that there was going to be opportunities somewhere and wherever that opportunity was, I was going to go and I couldn’t think of a better place to come than Buffalo, man. It’s a great opportunity. I’ve already [seen] the tour here. It’s a new facility and they’re doing new stuff to it. It’s going to be fun and I’m really excited about it.

FB Mike Tolbert


Q: We already heard that you’re a good dancer.

A: You didn’t hear that from me!

Q: Thoughts on coming here and being reunited with Sean McDermott?

A: He’s obviously one of the sole, influential reasons why I decided to come here. He’s a great guy, I know his mentality, I know his mindset. I know the type of coach he is, the type of man he is, and I like being around positive things and he’s a positive guy.

Q: How much interaction did you have with Sean in Carolina given that you were on opposite sides of the ball?

A: I’ve actually had more than usual, I would say, interaction with him. His wife and my wife are really good friends. There’s something that I call the breakfast club with myself and a couple other running backs. We’d get up early and go work out and he was always in there working out with us, so we connected that way. And just being around each other, we got to know each other a good deal and he called me and he was like, “I need you, I want you,” and I’m like, “I got you.”

Q: Sean said yesterday that fullback was a big part of this offense…

A: Yes sir.

Q: …so obviously that’s good for you but it’s not a typical thing that’s said in the NFL anymore. Kind of address how you see that.

A: Well, like you said, this is going on my 10th season in the NFL and the fullback has slowly been dying out. You get a guy like Coach McDermott who believes in us, he not only brings in myself but also Patrick DiMarco, so it’s something that we can help benefit. Really bring value to the position, to the team with our versatility helping out on special teams, doing that type of stuff. The grit and the grunt work.

Q: Give me a breakdown of your assets and how you can use a variety of skills to help the team.

A: Well, I mean I like to call myself multi-facet. You like that word? But you know, I feel like I can run the ball, I can block obviously because I played fullback at a high level. I’m a great pass-catcher, I can pass-protect, I run routes, I play special teams, I do it all. I’m a versatile player and Coach McDermott has seen that in the past five seasons in Carolina and that’s of the big reasons why I think he brought me up here – other than being a great dancer and the leadership stuff that I bring to the locker room.

Q: Why does keeping guys loose in the locker room and being a leader to you come naturally to you and why is it important?

A: Well I think it comes naturally to me because my upbringing. I’m a product of a single-parent home and I had to kind of make myself jolly to get by sometimes. I think now I just exude that on everybody else around me, the joyful attitude, the light-hearted spirit, the pranking, the joking and playing around. I think it’s necessary for a team because at times, when things are not going your way, you can kind of get down on yourself and you need somebody to kind of poke you in the butt and say, ‘hey, let’s go and have a good time with it.’

Q: Were you aware that the Bills were potentially going to sign DiMarco when you were going through you negotiations?

A: Yeah, I was aware. Like I said from the beginning, Coach McDermott has been very upfront with me and very persistent in what he’s been saying and consistent with it. So, I mean I was aware that there was another fullback on the radar, but I’m not a guy to dwell on what other people do on the football field. I know what I can do and I know I’m here ready to work and I’m going to compete.

Q: Have they given you an idea on your role? Do you prefer running back or fullback?

A: I see myself as a football player, so if Coach McDermott and Coach (Rick) Dennison want me to run the ball 10-15 times per game, I’ll do it. If they want me to go plow into a brick wall head-first on the goal line so Shady (LeSean McCoy) in the box, I’ll do it. It doesn’t matter to me, I just want to play football. I love playing ball and I’m doing that in Upstate New York now.

Q: Knowing Sean previously, do you feel a sense of getting your teammates acclimated to what he is doing?

A: I don’t feel any added pressure because what his philosophy, his mentality is, is the same thing that I have. So I’m going to go be myself and me being myself is going to translate to it going on to the rest of my teammates. I’m not here to take over the team or become the “spokesperson” or team captain, I’m just here to play my role and play my part and have a good time doing it.

Q: Being around Sean previously, what traits make him ready to be a good head coach?

A: He’s a guy that says what he believes and believes what he says and he makes sure that you feel it when he’s talking to you. You’re going to know from the passion and the emotion that he brings out that he really wants the best for everybody around him. That’s something that I have to give tremendous respect to. As a coach, he’s tough, he’s hard-nosed. I used to joke with him all the time because where we were in practice, he was standing right in front of the running backs in practice while the defense was taking their reps. I was like, “Hey coach, you got to move, I got to see too.” He was like, “It’s my drill!” I was like, “So?” But it’s one of those things where he’s a very tough coach but at the same time he knows what he’s doing. I’m not worried about him at all.

Q: Do you know LeSean in any way, shape or form?

A: Yeah. I’ve hung out with him a couple of times. My wife’s from San Diego, so I’ve met him in LA a few times. Played with him in the Pro Bowl. One of my really good friends is from Philadelphia and they’re really good friends now too. We’ve been around each other enough to know our ticks, to know what drives each other, so I think I can push him.

Q: Outside of LeSean, do you have any other connections inside the Bills’ locker room?’

A: Nobody really, other than LeSean McCoy. Like I said, I hung out with him a few times. That’s pretty much it. My running backs coach, Kelly Skipper, Jim Skipper who’s his dad was my running backs coach in Carolina. I see so much similarity in them already that I can tell it’s going to be a fun year.

Q: Was there a moment or something in Sean that made you realize that one day he could be a head coach?

A: Well I saw the intensity that he brought and the respect he commanded from his team, his defensive players, from day one, and I stepped foot in Carolina in 2012. Being able to command that type of respect from players like Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson, guys that have tremendous respect in this league and they give it to him freely. That’s a guy that could command the room, command the locker room, can take charge. So I knew sooner or later he was going to get an opportunity and I’m just happy to be a part of it.

Q: Going from Carolina, where you had a couple of good years there…

A: Whoa. Whoa. A couple?

Q: To start off I mean. You went to a Super Bowl and then you had a bad year last year. What did you learn as a player through that process of maintaining that level?

A: Well I think, as a team, we learned that nothing’s given, everything’s earned. But you know, that’s in the past, I’m a Buffalo Bill now. But as a player you learn how to go through adversity. You learn that there’s days that you don’t want to wake up and get there at 6:30 am, but you don’t turn the snooze off because you have to do it. It’s the way that we feed our families. It’s the way that we take care of our livelihood. Sometimes you got to do it even if you don’t want to.

Q: How did you see Sean deal with the highs of going to a Super Bowl and that defense that he had as opposed to what happened last year with injuries and losing Josh Norman?

A: Well I think he handled it well. Like I said, he stuck to his guns. He knows his team, he knew what we were capable of and he’s just like us adapting to adversity. He had to do the same thing with Josh. He does a great job. Obviously we didn’t have the type of year we wanted last year, but it built us for bigger and better things and he’s proof of that. We had a bad season but look at him now. He’s here ready to help this franchise go to another Super Bowl.

Q: What has Sean said about coming here with the playoff drought looming over the franchise?

A: Well I think from talking to him and Mr. Whaley, it’s more of a mentality thing. Coach McDermott brings a certain type of grit and mentality and I think that’s going to translate down to the players. It’s going to make us fight that much harder, it’s going to make us appreciate every moment because you never know when you’re time’s up.

Q: What’s your favorite touchdown dance you’ve done?

A: Hmm. There’s been a lot. I would say – I don’t even remember what year it was. I was in Carolina and I scored a touchdown against Minnesota and I did like a bowling thing with the football and I think that’s where I got the ‘human bowling ball’ nickname from and that’s stuck ever since, too. That’s one of my favorites.

Q: Do you remember anything about playing here in Buffalo?

A: Yeah, absolutely. I mean everybody knows that Buffalo is one of the most football fanatic cities in the country. I can remember my rookie year, 9-10 years ago, we were playing the London game so we came to play in Buffalo from San Diego and they (teammates) were like, “the fans are sitting right on your neck.” And I’m like, “what do you mean,” because I’m a rookie. I’m like, “Okay.” We’re just getting screaming and screaming and screaming and I just turn around and am like, “Man, will you just leave me alone?” But then it’s all part of it, as you learn, you grow from it. It’s all part of the game. I love fans. The louder the stadium, the better I feel like I play.

Provided by the Buffalo Bills.

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