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What They Said: Sean McDermott, Josh Allen, Jerry Hughes at Bills' OTAs

 

Head Coach Sean McDermott
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Opening statement: Good Afternoon, I’ll get this started with an injury update. These players will not practice: Tyler Kroft, yesterday sustained a broken foot and will have surgery today. Cole Beasley will not practice. He and Mitch Morse both underwent surgery a few weeks ago and are working through getting healthy, core muscle procedure. Russell Bodine is still coming off his shoulder surgery. Frank Gore, foot and ankle, that was sustained at the end of last season and David Sills will be limited with a hamstring sustained in rookie minicamp. Taron Johnson and Rafael Bush will be in red jerseys. Cory Carter, Corey Bojorquez and Matt Milano are all full go. So with that, I will open up to your questions.

Q: What happened with [Tyler] Kroft’s foot?
A: We were going through our drills yesterday and we got word after practice that he had fractured his foot. Listen, it’s not ideal. Availability is key, but we trust our medical staff and Tyler as well who is a hard-working man and that he will be back in due time and ready to go.

Q: What is the expectation of the time period of a broken foot?
A: We won’t know for sure at this point. We’ve got some thoughts, but we are going to let the process run its course right now.

Q: What is the [Cole] Beasley and [Mitch] Morse situation?

A: They went through the core muscle deal with the groin area, went to Philadelphia and saw Doctor Myers and had the procedure this off season. They are working back, they are hard at work and our training staff has done a nice job with them. They’ve worked hard and we will get them back as soon as we can here.

Q: What do you see in Jerry [Hughes] from your time here that would possibly want you guys to have him going forward?

A: Right, you know I knew Jerry just from film out of college at TCU. I watched his skill set as a pass rusher and when he transitioned from the Colts to here.  And then getting to know him as a young man and watching him develop off the field and then watching him trying to take his game to another level; I’ve enjoyed that. I’ve enjoyed being around his family and so we are excited. It’s not signed and done yet, but we are excited about it.

Q: If you could put into perspective what Jerry means to this pass rush, because seven sacks last season wasn’t overwhelming, although he led the team. He was consistently getting pressure, where is his game from your perspective?

A: Yes, that’s a fair question. You know when you just look at the stats and you mention the number seven, if you pull up the tape, you watch the tape and talk about sacks versus affecting the quarterback, everyone wants the sack numbers. But just as important at times is how many times you affect the quarterback. Whether it’s getting him off the spot, his vision or his arm in a way the ball comes out. There were a number of those in over the past couple years since I’ve been around Jerry and you know we value pass rushers and the ability to affect the quarterback with the front four. He was a big piece of that last year and our goal and Jerry’s goal as well is to grow, improve and evolve and you got to be able to get there with your front four.  

Q: Do you consider sacks to kind of be an overrated stat based on what you just said? 

A: I don’t know, that’s for you to decide. You never want to take credit away from where credit is due. You look at the great sack artists over the years like as football fans we all watch [Mark] Gastineau and [Lawrence] Taylor who, you know, guys who had the numbers, so I’d never want to take anything away from them. But just when you study the game of how you win games, you have to affect the quarterback. I think a lot of interceptions and incompletions come from just getting the quarterback moved off his spot. Like I’ve said affecting his vision, affecting the way the trajectory of the ball is and his arm. I don’t think it’s overrated because it’s important that you can sack the quarterback but at the end of the day at a minimum you have to be able to affect the quarterback in some way shape or form.

Q: How important is it to bring some continuity to the roster with Jerry Hughes who has been with you since the beginning and how important is that to push forward the message of culture to someone who has been a part of this team since you have arrived?

A: There’s two things that work there. It’s the continuity and it’s also rewarding a young man who has done things right. Brandon [Beane] has done a nice job of balancing the checkbook over the last couple of years. It’s been hard, but it’s necessary so that we can – when we feel like it’s right – target our own and bring them back. Jerry is a good football player, we’re not big fans of letting good football players walk out of our room and our building. The goal is that players that come to Buffalo and can be in our environment every day, can be a part of our culture, can be in this fan base and experience what it’s like to play in Buffalo. That they’ll become the best version of them than they’ve ever been before here in Buffalo and we’ve already started to see that take place.

Q: You didn’t mention Matt Milano on that injury list, does that mean he’s good to go and if so, what does getting him back mean for you?

A: Continuity, again as John mentioned. We have got a lot of the guys back off of the defense from a year ago which doesn’t mean anything other than continuity. We got a lot of work to do and Matt is knocking some rust off as he would say himself and yesterday was a good step in the right direction in terms of him getting back in the fold and going full go.

Q: How do all of these injuries impact what you’re trying to do this Spring, in terms of getting a lot of new faces ready to go?
A: Yeah, as I mentioned from the outset, that’s a challenge. When you talk about availability, now when we’re not available, it’s not ideal. Is it going to stop us? No. We are going to continue to work and that’s where the trust I have, Brandon, myself, and our medical staff, that’s what they’re here for as well.

Q: Is there anything you would change, in terms of what you would do on the field, in terms of wanting to get through healthy, like maybe scaling things back or anything like that?
A: You know, we always evaluate and you hate to see guys get hurt. In some cases, these guys haven’t been on the field and so that’s where free agency is free agency, as they say. We just have to continue to work and build a mentally and physically tough football team, and sometimes you’re going to get some dings. Don’t get me wrong that’s part of it as well. I would much rather develop a physically and mentally tough football team than go play golf every day and everyone’s healthy. There is a delicate balance there.

Q: Is the foot injury from Tyler Kroft the same as last year?
A: I’m not going to get into specifics, definitely the same foot.

Q: Coach, with [Mitch] Morse and [Russell] Bodine not available, I mean you’re already doing some shuffling there up front, who is working at center?
A: Spencer [Long] and Jeremiah [Sirles] has been in there as well. It gives us an opportunity for some young guys to step up and some other guys, like Jeremiah, who has played some center before to develop some position flexibility as well.

Q: You had E.J. Gaines your first year here, he seemed to have a pretty good season, then left you guys. What made you interested in bringing him back?
A: It always takes both parties to have that interest. It was mutual interest; we were interested in him and he was interested in coming back to us. Again, I think it goes back to with what I mentioned earlier with guys that have played for the Bills since we’ve been here and knowing that something is different. Knowing that they enjoy one of the better years of their career here and then they go somewhere else and say, “Hey, maybe the pasture isn’t always greener.” And so, I think guys like being around this place, they like playing for this fan base and they like what we’re doing. I would also say that guys in the locker room, they’re a pretty tight-knit group.

Q: You guys added to the Wide Receiver group pretty substantially this offseason, what’s the message to guys like Robert Foster and Zay Jones, who know your system here?
A: In terms of?

Q: In terms of, now they have to compete with guys who you paid a lot of money to play their position, what do you expect of them?
A: Compete. Do your job. That’s what brings out the best in people. If you’re wired the right way – and I expect Zay and Robert are – those are two young good players that will compete and step their game up and continue to develop and continue to grow and evolve. There is no depth chart this time of year, I’ve said that before. Guys are out there; you’ll see a guy with the one’s and the next day he’s with the two’s. You’ll see a guy with the two’s and the next day he’s with the one’s. We’re trying to find the right pieces as we evolve and grow and come to the final 53.

Q: On that note, we all know that Robert [Foster], last year, things didn’t go so well early on, he had to work his way back and he did. What did you see from him in the offseason, now that he’s back here, what have you seen from him as far as how hard he worked and the work he put in in the offseason?
A: He’s worked hard. He’s been around his home most of the offseason and again, we’re starting to see that as well, where guys didn’t stay here previous to us getting here, guys are starting to stay here in the offseason, like Robert, like Lorenzo [Alexander], like some of the other young guys as well. That’s a positive for us.

Q: What is your impression of Josh Allen as he comes back for year two at a very early stage?
A: Yeah, first day. I’ve been impressed with his methodical work ethic and approach. It seems like he understands the work that he has to and that we have to do this offseason to get us to where we’re trying to get to as a football team. Offensively as well, he has done a great job as many of you know, it’s well documented, putting his arms around some of the players that we did sign through free agency and some of our draft picks. I think that’s a great quality to have, in terms of the humility that Josh possesses in his DNA and the way he was raised. That’s the first step in leadership a lot of times. So, I thought he had a good day yesterday. There’s certainly more work to do the rest of the week.

Q: What is the objective for Josh during this OTA process? Is it knocking off rust, is it honing in on specific things to improve upon? What is his objective?
A: It’s the overall football player. That includes the off the field person, too. We’re talking about a young man who is one year out of college and is going to continue to experience life and grow and mature off the field. His leadership will continue to develop in the locker room for us. As the skills and the techniques develop and he puts in the required time to do that, which he has, he will continue to grow on the field. Just like any young player, you want the game to be able to slow down so that what seemed fast last year, maybe 6-8 months ago, will this year just slow down exponentially and as he continues to grow and get more reps it will continue to slow down for him.

Q: What was the decision to bring #32 back, after such a long time?
A: It’s something we did talk about when it was brought up by [Senorise] Perry and we know it was a number that was important to him and his family, and so we felt like we would honor that request. We definitely vetted it out and talked about it.

Q: What was the reaction, was there any reaction to the #32 being worn again?
A: No, I would say if you polled most of the players they probably wouldn’t even realize it, honestly. But we did talk about it as a leadership group for sure.

QB Josh Allen
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Q: You had to be happy with how 2-minute played out today. Could you just walk us through that series?
A: Yeah, it was kind of the first time we got out there. Trying to be no huddle, trying to go quickly. It’s kind of a situation where it’s before the half and you’re just trying to play out what types of plays we want to run, what type of throws we can and can’t make in those situations. Obviously, we want to get out of bounds. At the end of the half, you want to make sure that you have the ball last and use as much time as possible. At the same time, you want to be aggressive and try to score. We went down there and tried to take what the defense was giving us. Zay [Jones] made a play in the back of the end zone and that’s kind of how that one went.

Q: As we get into OTA’s here, what was your mindset going into this one? It was a lot different at this time last year, obviously you were a rookie, now you’re the guy. How do you go into it?
A: Being in the same system for a year, having the verbiage down, having the same terminology, having the rapport that I do with Coach Daboll, it’s been a huge help. Just going in knowing what types of plays and concepts that I like, Dabes [Coach Daboll] knows those. We kind of have a feel for what our receivers can and can’t run, I’m not saying they can’t run any routes, but what they’re really good at. So, going out there and finding out what the new guys can do and see what some of the younger tight ends can do. It’s a complete 180 feeling from last year to this year. Obviously, having the year of experience under my belt now and being around the guys in the locker room and having such good relationships in here and going out on the practice field and being able to talk a little bit to the defense and have them talk to us back. At the same time, we are just trying to make each other better and trying to win football games for the Bills.

Q: Individually, what was your top offseason priority and how far do you think you’ve come in working on whatever that was?
A: Consistently, delivering the ball where it needs to be. Ball placement is huge, especially in this league. The type of concepts that we have, trying to get the ball to our playmakers where that can make some plays. That was a huge emphasis, we’re still working it. That is something that will never change, you always want to try to work on ball placement. Every day you come out, it’s kind of a new thing and sometimes the ball comes out of your hand a little bit differently. You have to make adjustments and understand what your body is trying to tell you and try to go with it. Like I said, just trying to get the ball to the playmakers because we can’t do anything if they don’t have the ball in their hands.

Q: How far ahead are you this year than you were as a rookie?
A: As far as knowing the playbook, I would say I’m leaps and bounds ahead. Having that year under my belt in the same system is huge, for a young quarterback especially. You look at some of the better quarterbacks in the league, they’ve been under their offensive coordinator for a few years. That helps, just knowing what’s going on, you don’t really have to think about it; you just play football.

Q: What’s it like having Frank Gore around, in the huddle, in the meeting rooms, things like that?
A: It’s awesome. Frank is an all-time pro. He’s a future hall of fame running back. Just to have his presence in the locker room, how he speaks, what he plays for, what he stands for. I’m super proud and happy that the Buffalo Bills went out and got him because to have somebody whose work ethic and whose story is so great like that, it’s just unreal. He got the opportunity to talk in front of the team and I think if you didn’t know who he was or what type of person he was before then, you knew as soon as he started talking what kind of person he was. That’s why he has been in the league so long, that’s why he has been great for so many years. He has that attitude and that right mentality for the NFL. It’s rubbing off on players and I know we all love having him in the locker room.

Q: What was the message that resonated with you when Frank stood up and spoke?
A: Just the resiliency that he has had in his lifetime. The way he grew up, battling injuries, going to the U [University of Miami] and having to fight for a spot there. Just how he’s done it in the league for so long is just unreal. He’s just an all-time pro.

Q: There is something new at center, probably not the guy you were expecting you were expecting to work with Mitch [Morse], he’s on the shelf for now. How are things going here with Jon [Feliciano] there, just the communication and chemistry that you guys need to have?
A: It’s gone really well. Whether it’s Jon or Spencer [Long], getting snaps from those guys doesn’t really take long to get a good feel for being under center. They both know their stuff really well. It’s fun to go out there and, with them being new, kind of finding out what types of players they are, what types of attitudes they have. Talking with them in the locker room, off the field, outside of the facility and stuff like that and getting to know them. They are two really great guys and obviously Mitch, when he comes back, he’ll be thrown in that mix too and I’m super excited for that. I know Mitch isn’t really going out, well he has been out there and I’ve been able to get some snaps from him but it hasn’t been those live reps, if you will. We can still develop that relationship and that camaraderie off the field. He’s been playing, he’s played in the league for multiple years now, this isn’t anything new to him. We’re happy to have him and to develop that relationship off the field.

Q: Speaking of that level of relationship, it’s very clear that you have it with Zay [Jones] and Robert [Foster].  How much does that lift your confidence level in being aggressive, as you were saying, to have those guys and the familiarity with them? 

A:  It means a lot, just knowing their body types and how they get in and out of cuts. Having Robert [Foster] and Zay [Jones], Isaiah [McKenzie] and Ray-Ray [McCloud] and some of the guys that we had last year, those relationships are evolving even more so and developing more trust. Obviously, Cole [Beasley] isn’t out there with us right now but we are still developing that relationship off the field.  So when he gets on the field, the communication line is still open and having John [Brown] out here and being able to talk with him. Cole [Beasley] and John [Brown] are two guys who have been in the league for a while now and they know how to play football. There is no rush to get them on the field right now. It is OTA’s and obviously we want to work on that but developing that relationship and chemistry is what is most important in OTA’s.

Q: How much are you looking forward to building forward with Cole and [Tyler] Kroft and to not have them on the field? 

A: This is a time where I think relationships are being made.  They’ve played football before; I’ve seen plenty of tape on them and it’s different from in-game reps or in in-practice reps but just kind of talking with them and understanding what they are thinking. Cole is very communicative and that’s kind of the first thing he said to me when we first talked to each other. He’s like “I am going to let you know what I see and I expect you to do the same,” and that’s the type of level our relationship needs to be on so I think we got a really good start even though he’s not on the field. I know he wishes he was and I know that Tyler had a little injury yesterday and I am praying for a speedy recovery for him but like I said, we got these relationships off the field that are bonding already and obviously as much as we want him on the field, it’s just not going to happen until probably training camp.

Q: Can you give a really early impression of Dawson Knox? What you see and what you think he can possibly bring?

A: He is going to bring obviously athleticism. He’s a younger guy but he knows his stuff. He’s a very, very smart kid and you can tell just by talking to him a little bit. Him in the huddle knowing where he is lining up and knowing what route he has to run and he’s not really asking any questions in the huddle and that’s a good thing because he doesn’t have to. He knows what he’s doing, he runs really good routes and he’s got very good athleticism for the tight end position

Q: What is the number one thing you want to gain during OTA’s?

A:  Obviously as a team, get bigger, faster and stronger. All of those three things but at the same time develop these relationships off the field and kind of get to know each other so when you get on the football field you trust one another, and you can go win football games.

Q: What was your reaction to Derek Anderson retiring?

A: Obviously loved DA, loved what he brought for us last year. I got to learn a lot from him and I’m super sad that he’s not coming back but I understand the decision there. Long time pro like that and he was out playing golf last year and he came in and helped us out and helped me out tremendously especially. I understand the decision, I wish he was back but I text him and he is an open line of communication for me, he told me that and I’ll be sure to utilize him.

Q: I know you already have a close relationship already with Sam Darnold.  What was it like this year after your rookie years together to train and share some experiences of going through what you both went through last year?

A:  It was good. We tried not to talk about a lot of football but it comes up when we are on the field together and just talking about experiences and different defenses that we played and how we adapted and what we thought of them. Even going over how our offenses were and how we thought of our offense and obviously he’s in a different situation, he’s got a new OC and a new head coach and me being here with the Bills. It’s a good friendly relationship to have, but at the same time we want to compete and just to make each other better and that was kind of our goal in the off season.

Q: How important is it to you personally and to this team to have Jerry Hughes in the fold for another couple years?

A:  It’s awesome. Jerry [Hughes] is one of the best guys in the locker room. He’s a leader for us. The intensity that he brings every day is through the roof so I’m glad he has got his deal done and I’m glad we’ve got him for another couple years locked down. I think everyone in the locker room would say the same thing.

DE Jerry Hughes
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Q: Give us your impression of getting this done and not having to worry about a contract going into free agency.

A:  I’m very excited. First and foremost, I have to thank the Pegula’s, Brandon Beane and Coach McDermott for knocking this deal out and really believing in me. I’m excited to get to work. God is good, and with that being said I’m happy to get my mind focused back on football, get back to where we can take over this AFC East and make another playoff run.

Q: Was there any uncertainty with not knowing what might happen?

A: No, not at all. We’ve always had a great relationship here, Coach McDermott has always kept his door open so I could go in there and talk to him and I’ve taken that opportunity. Every now and then my name would get tossed up and trade talks, so we’ve always had a great open line of communication. I really am just happy to have this deal done to really get focused on football, get with the guys and focus on winning games. That’s always been my main focus.

Q: It’s more to it rather than just the pure sack numbers. [Coach McDemott] was talking about as well as disrupting the quarterback and taking him off his mark.  Are all those things an important part of your game and it’s not just measured by the pure sack total?

A:  Absolutely, because throughout the course of our games you get hit with double teams and different looks that coordinators will draw up. So for me really, I have to fight through all of that. I have to not give up, feed of the fans energy that they bring every Sunday and really just try to make plays so we can get our offense on the field. I think that’s really been my focal point and that’s how I try to play the game so we can do our best job to win games.

Q: It’s a trend in the league, Terrell Suggs just got a big deal. Guys who are thirty or beyond as you’ll be soon, it’s not a detriment. It’s seen at your position as an age where you can still get paid.

A: Absolutely. The Pegula’s have done a fantastic job with our facilities here. I call it a spa. We have some of the best facilities here in the NFL and a guy like myself and everyone here on this team takes full advantage of it. So when you do that, you are able to take great care of your body and keep it in optimal shape so that way you can go out there and play fast and look like Zo [Lorenzo Alexander] and go out there running around for fifteen seasons.

Q: What’s it been like to go from having questions about your future when you were traded to now, being the longest tenured Bill right now?

A: Honestly it feels good to a have an organization, an owner, a GM and a head coach who really believes in you and is really excited for me to be back here in this building with the team and with the guys so we can build this relationship early. That way, come September we are out there having fun.  We are putting our ears back, we understand how to communicate and how to work on the field and I think that’s a great testament to what they do up front but also what you need to build a championship winning team.

Q: Does it mean something to you as well that you’re actually finally entering your third season with the same defensive scheme?
A: It really hasn’t happened here and it feels great to actually be able to analyze the film from the past two seasons, past season, and really see what I can improve, not only in the defense but just my skills. That really helps out and puts a great pin into an offseason program that we have here and that we can build on that.

 

Q: When the Bills drafted Ed Oliver, what was your reaction to having a chance to play with a disruptor like that?
A: I was excited. I’ve seen the kid in college take on triple teams and still be able to be in the quarterbacks face wreaking havoc all game. It was exciting for me because up front we like those types of guys in our room and we have them. Now that I get to play with a guy like that it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Q: Sean [McDermott], when he was out here earlier, talked about the type of person you are and why that was important and why they were interested in doing this. How do you feel like you’ve grown underneath this coaching staff that you’ve had now for a few years?
A: Just the way we work. They’ve always had people around the team that have been able to discuss not only on the field things, but also spiritually. I think that has had me grow more as a man and having my son, who is probably the biggest Buffalo Bills fan, always up there in the suite cheering me on. It’s always been about football and winning but now it’s more about setting an example for our community and our youth.

Q: How much better do you feel about where this team is at now than it was at the end of last season, after offseason moves and draft picks?
A: I’m excited, [Brandon] Beane has done a fantastic job pulling in some guys who have a high motor that will allow Josh [Allen] to spread the ball down the field. We got some big, physical brawlers on our offensive line, which is great for our style of play with the Frank Gore signing, with our running backs like Shady McCoy. It’s going to be a great transition for our offense and I’m excited for it.

 

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