Head Coach Sean McDermott
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Q: Can we start with who might be limited or not practicing today?
A: Yeah, not practicing today is Ray-Ray McCloud [who] will not be practicing, Julian Stanford will be limited.
Q: So does that mean that Kyle Williams and Trent Murphy are full go?
A: I’m not going to get into injury report status at this point, but just in terms of how practice is going, they’re going to be out there.
Q: Were they able to do team drills on Monday?
Q: Sean, can you give us a sense of how important LeSean McCoy is to this current Bills team given the stature of his veteran presence and all the things that surround him?
A: I think you hit the nail on the head with respect to LeSean. He’s developing. I’ve watched him since he was younger, like I’ve said before, to now. I appreciate his leadership within our team. He’s got a good grasp on the offense, he’s playing fast, he looks like he’s in better shape even than he was a year ago. I think he’s been off to a real fine start.
Q: For him, there’s obviously been some distractions in his personal life. How have you and the team managed some of the things that he’s been dealing with off the field?
A: Nothing’s changed along those lines. Separate of that, we as a team talk about general distractions that can come up during the year and there’s always things that come up during a season; you name it since you’ve been playing on a team since you’re [young]. We have a lot of respect for those things, but it’s important that we stay focused on what we need to stay focused on and the teams stays together.
Q: Was there any reservations or hesitancy over having him serve as one of your captains given the distractions and where that stands at this point?
A: I’m going to take those in two separate ways. The first, like I said before, nothing has changed with that. We have a lot of respect for that situation. With respect to the captain situation, that was voted on by his teammates and I think that says a lot about their respect for him as a teammate. I’m proud of him for that as well.
Q: You mentioned that you go way back with LeSean, obviously. How have you seen him grow into becoming a captain of your team?
A: Really, it’s the day-to-day approach to his craft. [He] comes in early in the morning, wants to learn, wants to have a firm grasp of our offense and the defense he’s going to face, particularly this week with the Ravens, a very good defense. Just the way he then performs on the field with the effort. You see him take hand-offs just like I do and he’s taking a hand-off that doesn’t appear to be different from a normal hand-off, but he’s taking it and going 20, 25 yards every time he gets the ball in his hands; that really speaks to his habits on the field, which I think [are] outstanding.
Q: In the fourth preseason game, you rested a lot of your guys. You didn’t [rest] Zay Jones. Where is he in terms of that and the confines of being able to play a full game?
A: He’s ready to go. He’s ready to go.
Q: Coach, the way the Ravens ran the ball in the preseason, I know it’s preseason, but what is your respect for that and given what you’ve been trying to do to help your run game through the offseason. Just kind of walk us through the matchup and how tough of a task this is going to be.
A: The Ravens are a physical football team and I know Coach Harbaugh preaches that, coaches that. We have a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it. We work hard on fitting the run and then we’ve also got to be ready for Lamar Jackson when he comes on the field; we’ve worked hard on that this week, so there’s different elements to the run game. Greg Roman being there, he was here in a different run game that he utilized here. We’ve researched that and it’s a tough challenge.
Q: The last time that your starting offensive line played a game, it wasn’t a good night for the whole offense; it wasn’t all on them, the five sacks obviously, but what’s your level of confidence on where they are in your partially rebuilt group going into this first game?
A: Yeah, they’ll be ready to go. They’re prepared, just like our entire team, with respect to making sure we’re ready to go. There’s a lot of different looks that the Ravens defense presents: different fronts, different looks with the disguise behind the fronts, so we’re hard at work right now trying to get a good understanding of what that is and then how we have to play off of that.
Q: What do you like based on what you’re seeing that they have done? The naked eye watching a preseason game would be troubled. What are the things that are giving you faith?
A: I think you’ve got a group of guys, eight, seven, or so guys there that take a lot of pride in working for things. They’ve had to work for things up to this point in their journey as individuals, and now they come together and there’s not a whole lot of, and I understand why you’re asking the question, but maybe not a whole lot of outside faith in them. I think they embrace that. There’s not a name on the board that are household names. All of those guys take a lot of pride in their work and I’m extremely confident in them.
Q: Sean, it seems like there’s not a whole lot of outside faith in this team; Vegas [odds] have you as the worst team in the league for the season. How much do you use that as motivation for your players?
A: We’re just focused on the Ravens. [There is] one game right now, [and] we’re focused on the Ravens.
Q: Sean, on the offensive line, how much of it is a benefit that, even though they were shuffled, all five of those guys where here on the team last year?
A: That goes a long way in terms of communication and the continuity. I know not all of them played all together all of the time, but that said, they’ve been around football before and they’ve been around important parts of football: the fundamentals, communication, and so on and so forth.
Q: Sean, if Kyle [Williams] is out this week, will Harrison [Phillips] be in? How comfortable are you with the way he’s come along in training camp and do you feel pretty good with where he’s at right now?
A: I am. We’ve got a number of young players, Harrison being one of them, and this could be his first real opportunity in a real game. There’s a lot that comes with that. It’s our challenge as coaches to make things as simple as possible so he can play as fast and all of us can play at a fast level when our young players are out there.
Q: Given the changes that have taken place with the roster this offseason, can you or how often have you draw upon how this team made the playoffs last year?
A: That was last year. Really, we’re focused on the Ravens right now. There was plenty of time for that [and] to think about that in the offseason, but right now, we’re focused on the Ravens.
Q: Let me clarify: [I meant] just how the team came together last year and how the guys that you brought in last year brought that team together and how you can draw upon that with this past summer?
A: Okay, I understand now. Just as a team, you’re always trying to bring a team together, and that’s one of the things [you need to figure out] One of the bigger challenges that a coach has is to find ways within the time constraints that are upon us is to bring everything together. Guys come from different demographical backgrounds, different parts of the country, different economical backgrounds, and that’s one of the things we spend a lot of time thinking about [and] working on. I spend a lot of time with the leaders and communicating along those lines. That’s definitely a challenge, and I would assume the same through all sports.
Q: Back to the offensive line, is it possible that when you lose three starters, on your list of concerns coming into the season, where does that rank? Are you confident that you can plug in three guys and have a really confident unit?
A: Yeah, look. Number one, in order to play good football, it starts up front along both lines, the offensive line and the defensive line philosophically. That’s what I believe, that’s what Brandon [Beane] and I both believe. So, we’ve spent some time addressing some things there. We’ll continue to look at is, as I know Brandon always does. The fact remains that I’m extremely confident in those men. The number one reason [that I’m confident] is because of their work ethic. I know good things happen when you work hard and you do things the right way.
Q: Coach, how hard is it to plan against a defensive coordinator who the last time he called defensive plays, it was eight years ago, especially in a opener where you don’t have a body of work on what coach [Don] Martindale does?
A: He’s a good football coach, and I have a lot of respect for what he does. Again, their personnel on defense, they’ve got some guys that can really affect a game plan if you don’t do your homework. They were a 5-0 team during the preseason. They just missed the playoffs last year and they’re coached by a very good coach who I’ve worked with and have a lot of respect for. It’ll be a big challenge for us in Baltimore.
Q: In general, how much more difficult is it to game plan for a team when you’re heading into week one as opposed to week 10, 11, 12 when you have a lot more tape on them?
A: Every year, there’s unknowns, in particular in the early part of the season. Really, what you want to do is just do as much homework as you can do and, at the same time, do your job. That’s what we’re really focused on right now is doing our job.
Q: Sean, with Phillip Gaines entrenched in this battle for the starting job on the outside, would that make Taron Johnson your nickel going forward?
A: Yeah, that’s one of the things we’re looking at right now, whether it’s going to be Phillip or Taron inside. We’ve got a little bit of flexibility there, so we’ll just see how that comes out.
Q: How would you say Vontae Davis has performed relative to your expectations?
A: I really have enjoyed working with Vontae. When you look at where he’s been, it’s not easy when you’re coming from one or two different places when you were there for a handful of years. He’s really adjusted to and taken a great approach to our method of doing things here, the way we practice, the way we do things off the field. I’m extremely proud of the way that he’s approached his job since coming here. I think he’s off to a good start.
Q: What about how he is physically coming off a pretty tough injury?
A: It’s a credit to his work ethic going back to that. If you’re not willing to work hard, it’s hard to come back from anything in life, let alone an injury like he sustained. Again, I think he’s off to a good start and credit him, credit our training staff and the work that they put in.
Q: Sean, I know it’s early, but what have you seen from Nate [Peterman] so far in his preparation this week as the starter?
A: Nate’s off to a good start. Anytime in your week, and I’m sure it’s the same for all of us, when you’re off to a good start on Monday, it usually sets the tone for a pretty good week of work. I thought he got off to a pretty good start on Monday and that’s continued over the last day or two here. I’m anxious to get out onto the practice field and see how he applies it on the field.
Q: Back to the question about the outside perspective and [the fact that] you were a playoff team last year, and now people think you’re the worst team in the league. I know you’re focused on the Ravens, but in the big picture, how do you relay [your confidence] to people who don’t have any faith in you?
A: Listen, there’s a lot of guys in our room and it’s not the first time [we’re heard doubts], myself included, so we’re going to take it one day at a time and one game at a time.