Opening statement: We’ll go ahead and open it up this morning to your questions.
Q: Any update on AJ [McCarron]?
A: Nothing really new, but we’re still working through some things here. He will not practice today, so [there’s] no real change as far as that’s concerned.
Q: Do you have any sense of a rough timetable?
A: Not at this point, we really don’t. We’re just taking it one day at a time. I’m passing along information to you as I get it from our medical staff.
Q: Do you have any uncertainty about AJ [and] have there been any conversations about bringing in a third quarterback?
A: Yeah, Brandon and I have spoken about it. Like always, he’s always looking at our situation and what we may need to do for not only the long term, but the short term in this case. We’ll see.
Q: Sean I know you talked a little bit about Tremaine Edmunds yesterday, but just how do you protect against overloading a young player because as the middle linebacker, he’s got a lot of responsibilities? How do you make sure you’re not putting too much on his plate?
A: That’s a valid question and good point. We talk quite a bit about that with all of our young players, with all of our players, let alone the young players for sure, in particular a position like middle linebacker, signal caller, quarterback, all those types of positions where there’s a leadership component that comes inherently with that position. We spent a lot of time talking through that, communicating, managing that the best we can. At the end of the day, he’ll grow into it as well, so there’s that process that takes one play at a time, one week at a time. The more comfortable he gets, the more we can put on his plate.
Q: Secondly, on Tremaine, given his status as a first round draft pick and the physical tools that he has, expectations for him are really high from the outside. How do you maybe help him manage those or worry how he’s managing those?
A: Just focus on his job, focus on his 1/11th and what we’re trying to get done on defense in this case, and look to grow and get better every day. We know he’s a young player; we’ve got to manage expectations that way. Certainly, he’s done some nice things to this point, but has a long way to go as well. [We’ll] just take it one day, one play at a time.
Q: [Referring to the previous preseason game] Was that really a reminder of how young [he is]? Maybe you didn’t need reminding, but other people needed reminding that he’s still young and is going to make mistakes.
A: Listen, there are plays that he wants back, but all of those runs that broke are not on Tremaine Edmunds. Every single one of them wasn’t on Tremaine, and quite honestly, if you look at the tape, it’s always 1/11th, so he has to do his 1/11th and so does everyone else. That’s where team defense comes into play. I’m sure he’s working this week on correcting his 1/11th of what went wrong in those situations and growing and getting more and more confident as we move forward.
Q: There was one play though, I think it was the second run on the series where he clearly bit to the right and everything flowed the other way. That seemed to be a little bit on him. I know it’s 1/11th, but the fact that he bit to the right like that [indicates fault].
A: Yeah, I can’t remember the play. There’s a lot of plays that I look at from an offense, defense, special teams standpoint. There are a lot [of things] that we can improve on as an overall defense and that’s why we’re going out to practice in a couple minutes here.
Q: He said that maybe he was thinking a little bit too much after the first preseason game. Is that something you’ve kind of talked to him about, just going out and reacting? He said he sometimes feels like he’s overthinking things.
A: That tends to happen early when you’re trying to get the system down and then you’re also trying to anticipate what the opponent is going to do or wants to do pre-snap. I like the fact that he is proactively thinking, but sometimes if you do, and generally speaking, if one overanalyzes things, it slows you down. We’ve got to get all of our players where they can play fast, and that comes from the mental part of the preparation and the physical reps you get through practice. The older he gets, the more the game will slow down. I think you did see, in particular in the second half of the game against Carolina compared to the second half in this last preseason game, our young players as a whole made an adjustment in a positive way because the second game had slowed down for them a little bit.
Q: Typically in your experience, how long does it take for a young linebacker to settle in and finally be at a point where they’re not overthinking or anything like that? Acting instinctively rather than thinking too much.
A: Well, fortunately, I’ve had a chance to be around some good ones: Luke [Kuechly] being one of them in Carolina, Thomas Davis, some in Philadelphia as well. I saw Luke in his first year and I can tell you that he’s a different player now than he was then. It takes time. This is the best of the best in the NFL and the world, so it takes time.
Q: Coach, with respect to your tight end group, it just seems like each guy has flashed at a different point or another throughout training camp and the preseason. How tight of a battle is that and how difficult of a decision might that be for you at that spot?
A: It’s going to be a difficult decision; there’s some good football players at that position and it seems like someone flashes each day. Nick [O’Leary] you saw in the game the other night, Jason [Croom] yesterday. There’s some good competition there, which is credit to the players, credit to Coach [Rob] Boras and Coach [Brian] Daboll. We’re just going to continue to work through it, take it one day at a time at all positions. The competition level, as you saw yesterday, is high and it’ll continue through the end of camp, [which] is a good thing.
Q: Coach, you said you wanted to see Marcus Murphy stack another game like he did previously. It looked like he had a pretty good game to us, but can you just [evaluate] where he is and his development and the skillset that he brings to the offense?
A: Well, from the day he walked in the door, he has really embraced his role. Whatever role that has been asked of him, he has embraced it. Talking about the 1/11th earlier, he’s embraced that 1/11th. A year ago, or probably short of a year ago, when he joined us, he was really scout team and did a nice job getting us that look, getting our starting defense a look each week. [He is] always passionate about his job, energetic, tough and then that really carried over into the spring and now with what we’ve seen to this point in preseason.
Q: Has he put himself in that return mix? I know he had a nice return last week. His running back exploits are probably more well documented, so could you shed some light on the special teams abilities and what you’ve seen in practice, not just in the game?
A: Well, the history, his history in college would suggest that he has ability on special teams as well, so it’s not the first time that this, his return ability, has come up. That said, probably the one play that goes unmentioned, maybe not in the stat sheet, was the short kick that we had [where] they were backed up a little bit at a short kick that he came up and fielded maybe at the minus 40, 45. It gave us good field position. A lot of times, you see returners let that ball bounce and it takes 20 more yards and then we’re out of field position. That was, I thought, a key moment in the game that maybe stayed under the radar. We all saw what he did with the return, but just as important, as what he did with that catch which established field position as well.
Q: What has stood out to you in Harrison Phillips development?
A: Start of [by saying] that he is a young man that embraced his role, again, doing his job, his 1/11th. His approach to the game is a tactical, serious one. He understands the process and respects the process of learning from the older guys at his position and knows and understands that, again, it takes time to really gain the respect of your teammates. There’s a lot that, I think, he understands and a lot that he doesn’t know; that self-awareness is important for such a young player.
Q: What makes you confident that, while he will not be Kyle Williams, he can slide in at least temporarily while Kyle’s out?
A: Well, just some of the characteristics that I just mentioned: the DNA and then his physical attributes as well. He’s strong, he understands the game in terms of leverage and indicators, so [he’s a] smart player.
Q: At this late stage in the preseason, is the approach with the offense and offensive line to continue to just let the general group that you had starting work its way into meshing or are you still in the ‘mix and match’ mentality?
A: I think a little bit of both, honestly. The continuity begins to become important because of the nature of how the offensive line works, as you know, with the communication, line calls, so on and so forth. I would say we’re somewhere in the middle of that blend. Certainly, our competition has been high in a lot of areas. I thought a lot of our young linemen showed up the other night and gave our quarterbacks a chance. I saw them, again, make an adjustment in a positive way and make a jump there from game one to game two. I think that’s a little bit of a work in progress, but also moving towards the continuity that you mentioned.
Q: Will Josh [Allen] be spending more time with the first-team today?
A: He will today. He’ll be working with the one’s and Nate [Peterman] will be working with the two’s today.
Q: Sean, in regards to the third preseason game, generally, that’s sort of the dress rehearsal for the regular season. How do you balance that in regards to the quarterback? Will it be that one guy will get those dress rehearsal reps or will it be a full half and you’ll split things up?
A: I mean, we’ll see. Like today, you asked about the quarterback, we’re staying with the rotation; Nate had the one’s yesterday, Josh will have them today. We’re just with the rotation at this point. We’ll make that decision. After today, we’ll start to move into a little bit of a blend of [this being] a normal week as we prepare. Our players can get acclimated to the routine of a normal, regular season week. We’ve got some new players who haven’t been around us in terms of that routine, so we try and expose them to that. The competition is still, as you were asking about the offensive line, that stays, that remains. The competitions are still open and will be until they’re not, basically, as training camp unfolds.
Q: How aware are you what fans did for Andy Dalton and his foundation after what happened last year and how that’s become a big story. Obviously, now Andy and his wife are donating to Roswell here in Buffalo.
A: Just what a strong moment, man. It gives me chills just to think about it. So many times, and you guys are around the league, you get [the sense that] this is that team, and this team, and you kind of get on your own individual island and everyone is on their own island and team. What a great testament to paying it forward and what Andy and his wife have decided to do and give back to our community that gave to them. I think it just really embodies what Buffalo is all about and speaks to the man and the family that the Dalton’s are.
Q: Will you blitz less maybe, for Sunday?
A: [Laughs] We’ll see.