PITTSFORD – Sean McDermott demanded that his team pick up the intensity level Monday.
The Buffalo Bills' head coach halted practice to give his team a "butt chewing," according to guard Richie Incognito, and came away satisfied with the results – even if it meant some extracurricular activity after the whistle.
"That's exactly what I wanted to see," McDermott said Tuesday morning before the team's final practice of training camp at St. John Fisher College. "Those guys, they went toe-to-toe and it showed it meant something to them. They were asking for more quite honestly at the end. That's the level that we have to take ourselves to every day to get to the point where we need to get to as a football team – to earn the right to win. You saw that yesterday at the end of practice. That's what we need to do to compete and win football games."
McDermott said he wasn't concerned at the number of skirmishes that happened, saying he didn't feel like it reflected a lack of discipline.
"We're at practice 12, 13," of camp, he said. "I thought the guys have done a phenomenal job. Really if you go back and you look at training camps over the course of time like some of us do ... skirmishes sometimes show up around practice eight. It was practice 12, 13 yesterday. It's a long training camp. I asked those guys to pick up the intensity and they responded."
After practice was over, McDermott had a long one-on-one conversation with defensive end Jerry Hughes, who was involved in a back-and-forth with quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Hughes was pulled from practice and argued with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on the sideline. After practice, Hughes said it was an "off-field issue" that he discussed with McDermott.
"Jerry is having a heck of a camp," McDermott said. "He's playing our style of football. He's coming off the football up front. He's playing relentless in his approach to the game every practice, he buckles it up, and I love that. The other part of it is really, we were talking and discussing an off-the-field issue, that really I appreciate the communication from Jerry on. It's been handled. The rest of it, out of respect for the player and our conversation, I'll just leave it between he and I."
Hughes has a history of taking personal fouls, with 14 such penalties in four years. McDermott said "at this point" he's not concerned about that.
"What I've seen from Jerry is he's playing the type of football that I want to see – that we want to see," the coach said. "Penalties, I don't tolerate – as you've heard me say before – the post-whistle penalties. Those are non-negotiable in my mind. They hurt the team. So whether it's Jerry or anyone else, disciplined football teams don't do that."