Doug Marrone on EJ Manuel's status: "We'll see where he's at tomorrow"

Posted Dec 23, 2013

The Bills head coach talks about EJ Manuel's injury situation, whether or not he thinks Stevie Johnson will play on Sunday, and the state of the team's tight end position.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Monday, December 23, 2013

Opening Statement:
After watching the film I’m very happy and very proud of the way the coaches prepared the team to play and then really the execution of the team to go out there and win a game. I think that the players played well. They feel excited about it. The fans were outstanding. Right now our focus is going up and playing a New England team that I believe we haven’t won up there since the new stadium that they’ve had. They’ve been really a standard not just in our division, but in the NFL of how they played. It’s a great challenge for us to go up there and have an opportunity to try to win which is very difficult. Right now that’s what our focus is as coaches. I think that we’re prepared for when the players come in tomorrow and get the players focused on that. We didn’t really talk about New England today, we’ll do that tomorrow as we prepare.

Q: Any update on EJ (Manuel)?

A: EJ came in today and obviously he was with the trainers. Looking forward to seeing him out there tomorrow and how he feels.

Q: Still 110 percent confident that he’s going to play?

A: Well I’m the coach, when people ask me that’s how I usually go about with players. I think it’s a process and we’ll get him out there tomorrow and take a peek at him.

Q: How about Marquise Goodwin?

A: He was better today. He was better today so that’s encouraging. I think we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow and we’ll take it from there. It’s that same injury that he’s been having during the year. It’s kind of worked the same way, might have been limited on one day and then a day of rest and he comes back. We hope that continues to be the way and that we should have him back.

Q: Any other guys hurt?

A: Aaron Williams, we’re still looking at him. That’s a process with Aaron. I think that’s it.

Q: Will Stevie (Johnson) be back in town for this week?

A: I’ve had correspondence with Stevie and obviously again I’m going to reiterate that our thoughts and prayers are with him. His mom’s funeral is the 27th. With that being said, I think it’s very difficult as far as the availability issue of him being available for Sunday.

Q: Difficult to know if he’ll be available or difficult for him to be available?
A: Is that one of those trick questions that I don’t understand? I think with the funeral being the 27th it’s difficult to know if he would be available because of the date of the funeral.

Q: Has there been a setback with EJ?

A: Again when you say setback as far as everything we’ve been doing, no. It’s just a part of a process and we’ll get him out on the field. We’ve decided to rest him for the things we want him to do on the field to get the maximum amount of time and then we’ll put him out there tomorrow.

Q: Just so we’re not reading between the lines, is there a chance he doesn’t play this Sunday due to the injury?
A: I think there’s always a chance. There’s a chance Marquise Goodwin can’t play, there’s a chance that Aaron Williams might not be able to play, there’s a chance that someone might come in here tomorrow and say, ‘I don’t feel well.’ I think it’s very difficult and I say the same thing and you guys have known, you guys that have been around me. I’m one of those guys, I really don’t know a lot when it comes down to the specifics of injuries, I’ve been that way since training camp, but I’m always pushing it and trying to get them out there and trying to get them to play. I’m optimistic; probably more than everybody that’s here right now when it comes down to that and I need to be. I really do. I need to be that way.

Q: Optimistic about EJ?

A: (About) people playing, absolutely. Every one of them.

Q: Can you talk about your tight end position, specifically on the year Scott Chandler has had and your plans for the other players at the position?

A: I’ll tell you, Chandler, let’s talk about day one. We get here and he’s coming off a major injury. Here’s a player that is in here working his tail off to get ready. Very professional in that regard, a player that came back to camp earlier than expected from the injury. A player that during camp if you remember we had to rest him at times. Everyone was like did he reinjure it or not? We rested him. I think he’s been highly productive, he really has. He’s done a great job. I have no issues, I have a great amount of respect for the job he’s done not just on the field, but off the field in what he brings to the team. I’m extremely happy with that.

I think Lee Smith has gotten better. He made an outstanding catch yesterday on a back shoulder throw. I think his blocking has improved. I think it still needs to improve and he knows that. I talk to him about that all the time as well as his pass protection. He’s worked extremely hard to do that.

With Chris (Gragg), it’s been tough for us at times to get him up and get him more involved at times. When he has been in there he’s shown that he is able to play and he’s able to be a tough matchup as far as how he can run. SO that’s a very encouraging sign. His blocking from a standpoint of willingness and getting movement is probably better than what his height/weight show he should be able to do at that position, so that’s encouraging also.

Bringing Tony (Moeaki) in who is coming off an injury who has been a highly productive player, but has been injured in the past, his athleticism with what he’s shown in practice—we tried to get him in there, but it’s tough when you have four now that are up. We’ll consider ti again this week to see if we can get him in. At least we’re getting good practice time with him and seeing how he moves. I think collectively when you look at that position we have a couple guys that we feel can be a matchup issue because of their speed and their catchability. We’re developing those players to become better blockers and true all-around tight ends.

Q: Would you consider Chandler one of the key offseason guys?

A: I think that’s’ a good question for Doug (Whaley). I’m going to be asked my opinion on that, I haven’t really thought about it because I’m just going from game to game and week to week. I know Doug will ask me my opinion on players and that will be an after the season evaluation.

Q: Will there be any further disciplinary action for Robert Woods?

A: From the league? In taking with Robert obviously there is a great appreciation for his intensity and how he goes about his business and how he practices and plays. He’s an intense individual. I think any coach would appreciate that. There comes a time and Robert is mature enough to know that you just can’t do those things and put your team in jeopardy. He understands that and that’s the type of talk that we’ve had. Again, I would not be surprised if something happens.

Q: How effective do you feel the run unit has been this year on offense?

A: It’s always tough because I do look back and when we have the run ball well and been able to play action and we have been able to do a couple of those things, we‘ve been successful in spurts. Consistency is big. I think sometimes those numbers, the players are proud of them because you have to earn it. It’s very difficult to run the football in this league. I used to always say that when I’d gotten back out in college. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to run the football here. At the same time, you have to be able to do it throughout a season. You can’t ever lose it at times. Same thing I would say when you’re throwing the football well. There can’t be a point where it disappears on us. You need both the run game and the passing game to work to be successful as a whole offense. That part of it has worked out well. I think that we can get better at it. I think that we will work on that quite a bit. Obviously we’ll work on the other areas that we’re deficient in that hasn’t equaled wins for us.

Q: The punch that Robert Woods threw seemed out of character for him. How do you draw that fine line between being aggressive and not backing down and going over the line a little?

A: Someone asked that question, I believe it was Miami. They asked them about swagger and they were explaining what swagger is. It’s the way you carry yourself, a confidence about yourself. I would say this, anyone that’s every played in this game, you’re going to be challenged a little bit after the whistle. I mean I don’t know how the other players feel, but having played it’s happened to me. I think you have to make a decision between your anger at that time and your actions and their consequences. I think that you have to be able to put the team first. I don’t think that you can put it any other way. To where it’s obviously not acceptable, there are things that happen that you feel are not ethical that occur on that football field. Maybe someone grabs your facemask or someone grabs you and tries to pull you down. Someone cuts you or chop blocks or things like that. You can get upset and there is a lot at stake when it comes down to injury. You have to rely on the officials that are on the field to keep the integrity of the game, along with how we coach the players in what we do.

Q: Can you talk about resigning Alan Branch?

A: I was excited. I think Alan has played very well for us, he brings a lot to our club. Obviously his snaps have increased quite a bit and position flexibility increased when Alex Carrington was injured for the year. We’ve been able to move him to that five technique spot where he’s made a lot of plays there. Obviously we have the ability to put him at nose and he’s a big body guy. I think when you look at our guys up front and you look at the production of Kiko (Alonso) at our middle linebacker, a lot of that production goes because of the guys up front. They’re taking up two blocks, not letting anyone get on them and Alan has done a great job of that. We’re happy to have him as part of this team going forward.

Q: Are you confident the issue with Marcell (Dareus) is cleared up and won’t be a problem going forward?
A: Sure, I commented on it after the game and that’s behind us. We’re moving forward and my expectation is for everyone to do the right thing. Not just Marcell, but everybody.