Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott spoke to the media on Sunday, answer questions about recent injuries and prospects for the coming season.
Below is a transcript.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
Opening Statement: Good afternoon, we’ll go through some of the injuries [that] I know you’re going to be asking about. Today, AJ McCarron will not practice with the shoulder, Kyle [Williams] will not practice with the knee, and then Cory Carter with his knee will be out for the season with the ACL [injury]. So with that, we will open it up to your questions.
Q: How long will AJ be out? Do you have a timeline?
A: No, we’re still not totally conclusive on the results of the tests. We had some tests yesterday and we’re going to do some more. He’s in the process of receiving a second opinion, but really [there are] no further updates at this point.
Q: What about Kyle?
A: He’s more along the lines of week-to-week at this point.
Q: Will there be an injury settlement for Cory Carter, Coach? Something like that?
A: Next question.
Q: How does AJ’s injury affect your quarterback competition moving forward? "
A: Look, anytime you’re not on the field it’s not really what an ideal situation [would be] in that regard. I have a pretty good feel for what AJ’s done to this point [and] what he can do. We’ll just take it one day at a time.
Q: Along those lines, would you say that AJ very much remains in the mix as a potential quarterback for this team, even a potential starting quarterback for this team, regardless of his health status?
A: Let’s take his health status, number one, and then factor that into [the fact that] we just have to get into this next stage one day at a time here and then we’ll go from there. We’ll see. If healthy, then we pick up where we left off.
Q: When you went back and watched the film, what was your assessment of how Josh [Allen] handled himself with a little bit of first-team time and then second?
A: I thought he did a good job. There were some plays that he wants back. As a team, there’s some things, Josh included in that, that we have to improve on. Plenty of work to do there, but really, I thought he moved the ball and generated points in all three drives there, which was good to see. [He] did some good things. Each opportunity for Josh is a learning experience because he’s young, but I thought, for the most part, he had good command of the offense, of the huddle. We did have to take a timeout there, which is not ideal; we like to save those. But overall, I thought he took what the defense gave him and played smart football.
Q: The situation with Kyle, is there a sense that this is an injury that isn’t going to be severe enough to jeopardize him starting the season or what is your longer term plan with him?
A: [He’s] just week-to-week at this point. We’re going to take it one week at a time. I know if Kyle can be out there, he’ll be out there.
Q: Is his age or anything, because he’s more of an advanced player in years, does that at all factor into this process? [The fact that] he’s an older player versus a younger guy.
A: What process?
Q: Of determining his [longevity] and being a part of this team for the long haul. In his history, he’s had some injuries before.
A: Are you asking about Kyle’s age as it relates to his healing or Kyle’s age as it relates to him making the team?
Q: Everything; all of the above.
A: I have a lot of confidence in Kyle, both as a player, as a person, healing. For right now, he remains week-to-week, so we just have to go from there.
Q: With Harrison [Phillips] playing one and three, do you anticipate him filing in for Kyle the most there with the ones?
A: Yes. And then [Adolphus Washington] will move up as well in there.
Q: I know you’ve been positive about Harrison Phillips throughout training camp, and I know he’s still a rookie, but are you encouraged by having a guy like that to plug in there?
A: Yeah, I am, we are. He’s young, much like a lot of our players, and he needs to continue to grow and learn from experiences. The hard part the other night was [the fact that] we kind of cut his evening short a little bit because of the injury to Kyle, just trying to be smart to make sure we’re managing that position. I thought we did a good job at that within the game of taking Harry out because of Kyle’s situation there.
Q: Sean, can you talk about Nate Peterman? He starts in one game, moves the team down the field. You said you want to see guys elevate guys with the threes, he goes and appears to do that. Talk about how he’s handled this whole competition and everything going forward.
A: Yeah, I have great appreciation, and I think our team does as well, for Nate’s mental toughness. He’s driven to complete and loves to compete. I think there’s a steadiness about Nate that is important at that position, the quarterback position that is, but also is one that teammates can appreciate. I think you guys have been around Nate as well and have absorbed similar character traits, if you will.
Q: What concerns do you have with the offensive line given how many times that when AJ was in there, [he was] hit?
A: Well, I mean good football teams are usually built up front, offensive line [and] defensive line. I think we have the ability to do a good job with the personnel that we have on both fronts. There’s a lot that goes into pressures; it’s not always the offensive line. There are a lot of hands in that pot sometimes, just like there is with big time completions and plays, there is a lot that goes into that, too. It’s a team game and so we have to, like the rest of our team, offensive line [and] defensive line included, let’s continue to work, get better. We have a great opportunity this week to do that.
Q: Sean, how would you evaluate Corey Coleman’s progress after a week in the mix and then his first preseason action?
A: Yeah, I thought he went out and got some valuable reps, which was important for Corey in terms of getting used to what we’re doing [and] how we’re doing it. I think it was an important game for him to work through because of, from a timing standpoint, how soon it was with the trade facing his old team. I think we’re past that now and [it’s] time to move forward and really look at growing, learning, and developing [him] as a football player. He’s at the beginning of his third year, let’s remember [that].
Q: Coach, last year [with] the rule change and the cuts, there’s no more 75 [man roster] obviously. I think it would be right around this week. How do you feel that is played as far as the way you get to look at guys a little bit longer and have more bodies, but also there’s that mad scramble? You don’t see guys around the league being cut if you have injuries and stuff like that.
A: Are you saying as it relates to the new rule?
Q: Yeah, the new rule that started last year. Is it tougher or is it more beneficial? You have more bodies, but you also can’t evaluate the landscape?
A: There’s probably pros and cons to both. In this case, it’s not like it’s three weeks difference, really. There’s a little bit of an adjustment, but other than that, I think it gives us a longer look at the guys, which is good. I like that and it gives young players an opportunity to put their best foot forward, which is always a positive.
Q: Back to the offensive line and the battle at center, have you seen enough where you can say you’re going to go with Ryan Groy or Russell Bodine, or [another] rotation?
A: That rotation will continue, yes.
Q: How do you evaluate AJ based on the injury, I’m assuming he was hurt while playing and the amount of times he was hit? How do you evaluate AJ at this point given what happened and the fact that he only played four series, and they were all three and outs?
A: How do I evaluate AJ as it relates to his performance in the game or overall?
Q: Just what you saw from him and the fact that he was getting hit a lot.
A: You go back and think that the first throw, he put the ball on the money; we need to come up with that catch. Overall, I think there are some plays, much like Josh and AJ, that Nate would like back and there are some moments that he was spot on. Just like myself, all of us, there’s work to do. There’s improvements to be made, growth to be had, and that’s why, as soon as he can get back on the field, we’ll see if that opportunity presents itself. We have to continue to grow and get better.
Q: You talked a lot throughout training camp about the separation of the quarterbacks and any position [being able to] separate themselves. There is a perception from what we saw, from what people saw, form what fans saw on TV on Friday night that perhaps Josh started to separate himself. Is that a fair assessment based on your view?
A: I can certainly understand why you or people would say that. There was a lot to be positive about and [I] love the excitement around that. That said, let’s just manage expectations. He’s a young player and let’s just take it one day at a time right now. [There is] a lot to be learned, still, going into the third week of preseason. [We’re] not quite there yet, but in some ways [we are] in the third week of the preseason. This will be an opportunity this week, moving forward, for us as a team, Josh as an individual on our team, to continue to grow.
Q: What about the way his teammates responded to him and how much does that factor into the end decision of who’s going to start?
A: As it relates to Josh? Yeah, I like the fact that he seems to [have] begun to earn the respect of his teammates and the trust of his teammates; I think that’s important, not only in the evaluation, but in that position. For every position, in particular, the quarterback position, the respect and the trust is huge. That’s an important part of his early stages and his development and his growth as well.
Q: Coach, heading into the third week, as you said, are you feeling any urgency, whether it’s at center or quarterback, to start to name starters and get that continuity with guys? Are you starting to feel that pressure?
A: No, I don’t think ‘feeling the pressure’ is the right way to describe it. I think [it’s] more along the lines of wanting to and needing to at some point here develop more continuity. Although, the way the plan has worked out to this point, we’ve been able to get the quarterbacks time with the one’s; all of them have had significant time with the one’s, and that’s been positive. Again, like I mentioned after the game, we’ll move forward and do it at the right time for us when we feel like that right time is. At this point, we’ll come down the road here.
Q: With this week in particular, typically going into the third preseason game, it’s the dress rehearsal before the regular season. With the quarterback competition still ongoing, the center competition still ongoing, is the expectation this week that by the time the game ends, you guys have a pretty good direction of where you want to go or will this play out into week one [of the regular season]?
A: We’ll see. I’m really focused right now on the practice we’re about to have in about 15 minutes here. [There is] a lot of work to get done and a lot of improvements to be made based off of the game the other night. We’ve got to, right now, focus on that and take it one day at a time.
Q: A lot of the attention, too, was on Josh Allen, but Tremaine Edmunds: he struggled a little bit early in the game and then bounced back as the game went on. What have you seen from him?
A: He’s a young player [and] it’s preseason. We’re going to have teachable, learnable moments. I’m sure, much like the other members that I was asked about, there were some positives in his play and some things that he would like to have back. You either win or you learn, and certain plays on a play-by-play basis, we didn’t win all of those plays. Give credit where credit is due to the opponent, there. Where we didn’t, whether it’s Tremaine, Josh, whomever, we have to learn from those opportunities.
Q: Sean, you gave Taron Johnson some pretty good opportunities working with the one’s immediately at nickel. After watching the film, how did you assess his performance and what did you like about it?
A: The thing that I saw was there were some plays that replicated themselves from the first week against Carolina to the second week. Kind of [extending] off my answer from before, and this is important to understand, it’s nice, it’s fun, it’s part of the joys of coaching or teaching where you can see a young player have these moments in the first game, for example Taron, where he could’ve played some things better [and] learned from it and then in his second game, made the adjustment and really grew in that second game and the weeks leading up to that second game, more importantly. That’s a credit to his coaches and the work that he’s put in between that first and second game; it’s shown on the field.
Q: What is the status with Trent Murphy now that he’s gotten a few days or rest?
A: Yeah, he’s still day-to-day. We’re still trying to work through that. We’re going to take it one day at a time right now.
Q: Sean, have you heard anything from the league about the helmet rule, I guess we would call it, and calls? Do you anticipate that it’s going to be called in the regular season the way it seems to be called in the preseason? Have you said anything to the players about it?
A: We talk, what I would consider, quite a bit about it because I do think it’s going to be called and I think it’s for players’ safety, which is of the upmost importance for our game. We have to continue to adjust. [We] would not want to see it decide a game. I would want it called, don’t get me wrong, and because of that, we have to make sure we continue to adjust so it doesn’t decide a game in a negative way for us. It’s a technique we continue to try and coach the right way and we’re going to continue to work on that through the preseason here.
Q: Will Kyle need any procedure? Any procedure on that knee?
A: Not at this time, but we’ll just take it one day at a time as well.
Q: Will AJ need a procedure?
A: I don’t know. We’re going through more tests at this point.