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Bills coach McDermott: 'If we're going down, we're going down all guns blazing'

PHOENIX -- Sean McDermott showed the first real sign Tuesday that he has a little bit of something going on beneath the mostly methodical and careful exterior he has portrayed since being introduced as the Buffalo Bills' 20th head coach last January.

It surfaced in answer to a question about his approach to going for it on fourth down.

"Oh, my personality is aggressive," he told reporters during the annual AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. "At the end of the day, players want that and that's my personality and I've got to be able to put my head on the pillow at night knowing that I have no regrets.

"And if we're going down, we're going down all guns blazing."

McDermott covered a wide variety of topics, including how the Bills have done in acquiring free agents so far while dealing with serious salary-cap limitations.

"We're not going to make excuses," he said. "We are where we are and we feel good about what we've done. Everything we're about is moving forward, and we feel good about the players that were on the roster and then we were able to add critical pieces in free agency. And so we're going to continue to try and do that through every avenue, whether it's the draft, continue to look at free agency, whatever it might be. We're going to try to improve this roster every way possible.

"We feel good about what we've done, but there's no stopping here. We've got to continue to basically wring out that rag. We've got to continue to refine our roster. You look at the number of players we were able to sign with kind of a narrow margin in terms of the salary cap, and just to move tactically through it and be aggressive and then kind of pull back and re-set our board and take a breath. That's what we're doing out here is kind of being able to re-set our board and see who, in this third wave" of free agency, "if you will, of free agency that we want to go after."

McDermott also reiterated that he and General Manager Doug Whaley are working well together, despite media speculation that Whaley is on his way out. McDermott went as far as to say there has been a "seamless" relationship between the coaching and player-personnel staffs through the offseason so far.

"I'm in Doug's office, he's in my office and, 'What if this?' and 'What about that?'" McDermott said. "You just have those conversations, those healthy conversations. And that's what makes it fun."

Among the other highlights of McDermott's nearly one-hour session:

His belief the Bills have their No. 2 receiver behind Sammy Watkins on the roster from a group that consists of holdovers Kolby Listenbee, Dez Lewis, Walter Powell, and Brandon Tate, and newcomers Andre Holmes, Philly Brown, Jeremy Butler and Corey Washington: "That'll be fun to watch that battle throughout the offseason and preseason and training camp. Who that is remains to be seen, but I believe he's on the roster."

His feeling that the Bills are solid at middle linebacker with Reggie Ragland returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for his entire rookie season last year, and Preston Brown: "Reggie had the setback last year. I know Reggie from tape in college and what he can do and just we'll start at the middle linebacker position is really where we see him. And what innately comes with that position is the leadership skills. He possesses those leadership skills to get us lined up, be the antennae, so to speak, of the defense. I'm not out there and over the years, when you look at that position, in this system -- guys like Luke Kuechly, guys like Jeramiah Trotter -- that can check the defense, get us in and out of bad calls, bad defenses, set us up for success, that's an important part of that position and Reggie, from what I can tell and what I've observed and been told about him, he has that DNA.

Preston Brown would "be in that same mold in terms of that middle linebacker position for us, and so very confident in watching Preston last year and over the last couple of years, really, in the different systems he was in. Very productive player. He's a nice fit for us as well. It'll be a fun position to watch."

His recent meeting with Watkins: "I had a chance to sit down with Sammy the other day. I was impressed. He's on schedule with his rehab, no setbacks. He's fired up about this season and what a dynamic receiver. And then you look at what we were able to do with free agency in adding players to that position group in Andre and the different guys there with Philly and Jeremy. That's going to be a fun group to watch throughout really the offseason and preseason. And then the special-teams qualities and characteristics that those young men bring to the table. I love the toughness of that group and I look forward to watching Sammy when he gets back on the field."

Having Cardale Jones as the only backup to quarterback Tyrod Taylor at the moment: "Cardale's got a big arm. So you start there and you say, 'Hey, he's won before. He's won in big moments, won in big games,' yet at the same time he's a young quarterback and we have to develop. That's part of the coach's job is to develop our players, so we feel good about it at that position, yet at the same time, we're going to look at every option and explore every avenue to improve this football team, whether it's the draft or free agency or waiver claims. Whatever it is, we're going to look to improve this roster."

His enthusiasm over second-year cornerback Kevon Seymour: "He wasn't a guy, honestly, that I knew a lot of before entering the doors at One Bills Drive, but, man, what an athlete in terms of just the length. And that's really the way the corner position is moving. When you look at Kevon, he played some inside, he played at the nickel position, he played outside, and yet he was physical. As a rookie, I thought, just watching the tape, he really handled himself well. And then the mental toughness part. There were plays where they call a ball, but he came back the next play and hit the re-set button and really fired on all cylinders. For a rookie to be able to do that, man, that was huge. That's a nice foundation in year one."

An update on the status of free-agent middle linebacker Zach Brown: "Had a really nice visit with Zach the other day. Obviously, a great player, Pro Bowl player last year, had a nice season, and we'll see moving forward how things unfold at that position."

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