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Doug Whaley: "We're planning to be a playoff team"

Posted Jul 18, 2014

Bills GM Doug Whaley addresses the media on move-in day at training camp.

GM Doug Whaley

Move In Day- Friday, July 18, 2014 

Q: Talk to us about Kiko [Alonso] and his surgery yesterday. Is everything good?

A: He had his surgery and from all the reports we’re getting it was a successful surgery. We’re expecting him to be back after camp, let his swelling go down and do some rehab there. But he’ll be back in Buffalo when we break camp.

Q: You’re always talking about next man up. After all the OTAs to have that happen, you’re basically doing a try out in training camp. That can’t be good.

A: I have to disagree. Because he wasn’t taking many reps in the OTAs, that gave experience to Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham, Ty Powell so those guys had gotten some reps with the first and second team so this will just be a carry over and then we have to see what happens when the pads come off.

Q: How big of a loss was Kiko?

A: It’s a tremendous loss but no one is crying for us. So we have to like you said “next man up.” We think we’ve built a roster that can sustain a loss like this. Our expectations aren’t going to drop.

Q: Who do you view as some of the prospects who are going to get cracks at reps?

A: I have to talk to Coach but right off-hand, Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham, maybe Ty Powell. Two young guys. It’s an exciting time for those guys and an exciting time for us to say, “Alright, what we saw in these guys is true and they can play.”

Q: How did Kiko do it?

A: We’ll let them talk on it. I wasn’t there so I can’t talk on it. His camp will handle that.

Q: How much of a shock was it when you first got a call?
A: It’s nothing you want to here on your vacation. Absolutely it was a shock. But again, injury is part of the game and it’s not an excuse for us and it can’t be an excuse for the team and it won’t be.

Q: When you drafted Brown you thought of him more as an inside guy didn’t you?
A: We thought of him as a guy that has the flexibility to play inside and outside. He played mostly inside at college but we thought with his workout and the way he moved at his size, that in a pinch he could go outside and we’ll find out for sure.

Q: In terms of Marcell Dareus’ status at the start of the season, have you had any correspondence with the league?
A: Not to this point. We haven’t heard anything from the league.

Q: What about the guys you place on the PUP list, especially Leodis (McKelvin)?

A: Leodis is coming back from that hip surgery that we talked about and we just wanted to make sure that we eased him in and not give him to strenuous of a workout right off the bat.

Q: Do you think Cordy (Glenn) could be a lengthy absence?

A: We’re still waiting on some reports on him but it looks like it’s going to be one of those day to day things and we’ll see how it progresses.

Q: You don’t think it’s season threatening?

A: We don’t think so at this time but again, we’re going to have to see on how he progresses. We hope not.

Q: Is what happened with Alan Branch something that quickly developed?

A: He was out but when he came in and did his physicals there were some tests that came back that we need to wait on and see if everything is okay. If they come back okay, he’ll be out on the field. He is at camp now.

Q: How about Cordy?

A: He’s going to be here and he’ll be doing some light exercises and stuff like that.

Q: What are you expectations and your message now that camp is here?

A: I think if you look at all 32 teams when they go to camp, everybody is looking to win. We’re competitors. Those guys in there are competitors, the coaches are competitors, us front office people are competitors. So anytime those guys strap it up, we’re expecting to win so I don’t understand why everybody keeps saying it’s a win-now situation. It’s always a win-now. That’s what sports are for.

Q: This is the Bills 15th year at Rochester and they’ve never made the playoffs here. Every year this day opens with high expectations and they’re dashed come December.

A: Well, that’s why we’re here to change it. That’s why we’ve built this roster and the moves we made in the off season were with the eye of making the playoffs.

Q: Do you feel like this roster has arrived, in terms of the overall picture you want to paint as GM?

A: We feel that we have a roster that we are building with some cornerstone pieces that we believe can consistently compete for playoffs and championships. We’ll see a big determination in that with the loss of Kiko [Alonso] and if we’ve found the right guys to replace him. It’s a huge loss, but Sean Lee went down in Dallas and they still have to play. People are getting hurt all the time, so we’ve just got to be ready to move on.

Q: In what ways would you the depth on the roster is better when compared to a couple years ago?

A: I think, again, the Kiko thing. We went and signed a guy that was more special teams oriented to fill the roster, who can take some reps then look to be a starter. Those are the things that are encouraging, not only to us, but also to the coaching staff and to the public, that we can withstand an injury. Again, the expectation is not going to dip.

Q: Where does LB Keith Rivers fit into the mix at linebacker?

A: I think he’s actually a four-down player. I don’t know which one is going to play Sam and Will, but he’s going to have to step up and take the lead between him and [Brandon] Spikes and whoever takes the other one. I think he can play on special teams and passing downs and Nickel situations.

Q: Why did you cut two players today?

A: Just to upgrade the roster. 

Q: Will you go up to 90 players?

A: We’ll go up to 90 and we’re in the process of looking at two guys now. We’ve got to get some physicals and stuff like that, so we may have an announcement tomorrow.

Q: Are you taking veteran guys or younger guys for those spots?

A: Younger guys.

Q: Do you think QB E.J. Manuel has to take a big step this year for the team to go anywhere?

A: I believe that he has to take a step. Now, a big step, that depends on your categorization of big. I would say take care of the ball and, the one thing he did last year that he needs to do this year, is to come through and make the players. He did that last year. We think with our defense, our running game, I’m not going to say he has to manage it, but he just gets better and keeps improving. He doesn’t have to feel the weight of the world on his shoulders and he has to go out and win. We’ve surrounded him with some people where, if he does his job, we should be okay.

Q: What are the specific things you’re looking to see out of E.J.?

A: I want to see him be in more control of the huddle, the offense and [display] the command and presence we saw in college. It’s tough as a rookie, with all the time he missed, to get that comfortability factor. With all the offseason and him healthy now and going into training camp, by the time we leave training camp you should see a guy that’s standing tall in that huddle and quick and decisive with his decision-making.

Q: What do you think about several preseason projections ranking the team near the bottom of the league?

A: They should. We haven’t done anything. We’ve got a lot to prove. It is what it is. Like Russ [Brandon] said, ‘We won’t hide from it.’ We haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time and we owe it to the fans, our late Hall of Fame owner and everybody in this business to show that we’re not the Bills anymore. We want to be a playoff team. We’re planning to be a playoff team and that’s our goal.