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Doug Marrone: "St. John Fisher truly did an outstanding job"

Posted Aug 21, 2013

The Bills head coach talks with the media before practice on Wednesday about Jairus Byrd signing his tender, training camp coming to a close, and having a prank pulled on him.

Head Coach Doug Marrone

Training Camp — August 21, 2013

Opening Statement
Just to start out, again, I’d like to say Dr. Bain and the staff here at St. John Fisher truly did an outstanding job. The fans that have come to watch us practice, the sponsors, it has truly been a great experience. I’m excited about it. I think it’s a first class operation. That’s what we’re trying to run here with Russ Brandon and all indications of what happened during camp show that’s what we’re striving for. I believe the staff at St. John Fisher was awesome. Again, I leave here very fortunate leaving here not gaining weight. I think a lot, as coaches, have achieved our goals too. I think that was very difficult to do.

Jairus Byrd signed. Really looking forward to him coming in. I probably won’t see him until we get back to Buffalo. He’s not here right now. We expect him to be back in Buffalo. We are breaking camp today. I think it’s important to come out and have a good, crisp practice. This is probably the second day of some real heat. I wish we had an earlier time of it. We expect it to be hot when we go down and play Washington. Right now, the only people that aren’t expected to play: Kourtnei Brown, who is an outside linebacker for us, EJ Manuel, a quarterback who we’ve talked about before and Chris Hariston who hasn’t been on the field since we’ve been here.

Other than that, probably with Jairus, again, I haven’t seen him, so it’s hard for me to answer any questions. Probably not playing. We’ll transition him back in and see what kind of shape he’s in and knowing he’s a pro and he’s probably in great shape. Looking at playing the players. Everyone is ready to play. Players are going into the game looking to play a full game. That’s the type of mentality we want them to have. At the same time, we’re looking at some of the players that are in competition for roster spots after the game. Two or three days afterwards, we have to get down to 75, so that’s not set in my mind at least right now who it’s going to be. We have to make sure we keep the mindset of how hard we have worked here and make sure that carries over into we’re still in this training camp mindset once we go back to Buffalo.

Q: How do you make sure Jairus Byrd is caught up?
A: I just think it just happens. I don’t think there’s anything planned. He’s coming back ready to go, which is the same we’re doing. We’re coming back ready to get him out there on the field. I don’t think it’s as big of an issue as people might make it out to be. He’s coming in, and you can see the great things he has done on film. He’s a competitor. I disagree with we have had conversation and had communicated with each other. I think that early on here at camp and not recently though to make sure we’re all on the same page. I’m sure he was in communication with some of his teammates and I think that that helps. The transition when he comes back in and knowing what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s trying to accomplish the same things as we are as a team. He knows our goal is to try and get back to the playoffs.

Q: How encouraging is it to have one of your best players come back as you enter the next phase of the preseason?
A: It’s encouraging to me because I haven’t been around to see him. I’ve just seen him on tape. I think it’s always encouraging when you get a good player back. It’s encouraging for me because our injury situation right now really isn’t bad and we’re going to have those guys playing.

Q: Does Byrd have 72 hours to report?
A: I don’t know the rule. I just figured when they told me they’d be back in Buffalo. We’re breaking camp.

Q: Is he going to make the trip to Washington?
A: I haven’t even spoken to him yet with this process going on with all of the logistics of what’s going on. If he’s ready to come on the trip, I’d love for him to come on the trip. We haven’t discussed that, but I’d like him on the trip and we’ll just see what he’s at. He may have to do a couple of things with the doctors such as physicals and stuff like that. Hopefully we can get that done and if we can, bring him on the trip.

Q: How excited are you to watch players like Crezdon Butler who have missed some time but you’d like to get a longer look at them?
A: I think we’ll be able to do that. Right now, what’s hard from a managing standpoint is if you play people longer than you have before in this game, which most people do, and you play them later in the game, it’s then who comes into the game for that maybe end of the third or fourth quarter type of situation. I don’t think you can look into what’s going on there. I think there’s an emphasis on the people that are playing and getting themselves ready. The next week the focus comes into the competition where you could get a lot of those reps. You’re exactly right. He’s someone who will get a lot of reps. When you look at the next two games, it’s just a matter of where it’s going to be heavy. Is it going to be heavy in this next game or later in the game? Or will it be heavy in the last game against Detroit?

Q: Do you look at these two games and try balance out the playing time?
A: It’s hard when you look at it. If you just say I have a quarter in a half, maybe a half depending on who’s coming in on the pitch counts, and then you look at the last game and how much time you have, you’re going to have more than that. What you’re doing is you’re looking to see how it all fits and how you’re going to go after it. There’s some management to that strategy of who you’re going to play and how that plays out.


Q: Would you consider playing Jairus Byrd more in the fourth preseason game because he’s missed so much time?
A: No. I wouldn’t do that.

Q: With this being the last day of camp, just generally how do you feel everything went?
A: It hasn’t been a secret, I’ve been happy. I really have. With the way the players have gone out and worked. I’ve been really happy with the trainers and the doctors and the job they’ve done for the most part. Then obviously Dr. Bain like I mentioned before in opening this thing up. I haven’t been here in the past, so I can’t really say whether they’re different or have they worked better than they have. From my standpoint, the camps that I’ve been to they’ve been pretty consistent. Obviously today we’re going to have to drive them a little bit. We’re in a transition day, but we’re good. I think we haven’t wasted a day out here. At times you can do that in camp when you hit these long periods. Players know we’re progressing, I think you can see that on film. I think they understand we still have a lot of work ahead of us. I said this before, really my biggest concern is, if you think about it, I’m sure everyone here knows that they have to keep pushing themselves too. When we arrive at camp we all know what it is, every one of us. You’re going to go to work; you’re going to practice. You’re going to work hard, you’re going to communicate with your teammates and you’re going to go. There’s less outside distractions. Less people pulling you away from what your objective is, to make this team. I think it’s important that obviously now we’re going to change the whole environment. Change it for players, change it for coaches. We’re changing it for staff and we’re changing it for Scott (Berchtold). But we can’t change that mentality and environment drives that behavior. So we have to go back and do a heck of a job of making sure that we somehow find a way to visually change this environment where we can go back and say, ‘Hey we’re still in this camp mode and we’re still working.’ I think that’s the challenge and a lot of teams have that challenge. I think if we can do that and transition the way we’ve been working here, I think we’ll be ok. We’ll be ready to go when the season starts.

Q: You have a young team especially in some spots. Do you feel that the youth hasn’t held you back compared to other teams you’ve been with?
A: I think what will happen is when they get hit with any real adversity--how’s that locker room going to be? I think it’s easier to control a locker room here at camp. When I say control it, I’m walking through and the players are together, they’re much closer. If we can establish that closeness when we go back, obviously that helps and then when you get adversity, the senior leadership has to kick in. We as coaches can’t be around them the whole time. I can tell already, they got me today. Stevie (Johnson) has the video, they dunked on me today. It was embarrassing. So I told those guys, ‘Well you better watch out’ because as the coach I started thinking a little bit about is the practice going to run long or are they going to run more? I like going through the locker room, I don’t like getting dunked on.

Q: What was the prank?
A: TJ Graham was holding one of those backboards with the net on it and I said, ‘What are you doing?’, “Oh we’re just bringing this back’, ‘What do you mean taking it back? Was it here? You’re not taking this from St. John Fisher.’ Then all of a sudden he puts it over my head and Fred Jackson dunks on me and the whole place was going crazy. So they got me, they got me today; I’ve got to admit that. Stevie has it on tape, so I don’t know if he’s going to let that tape go out or not, but if it does than hey it happens. But to answer your question, when those things happen, adversity has a lot to do with it. I tell you, I don’t foresee any real issues. These guys have been really focused at camp.

Q: Are we still at the same spot with Chris Hairston?
A: I tell you we’re looking forward to him coming back. Obviously for me as a coach with a position I’ve been involved with before we want him to come back. We’re really just waiting to see when he feels better and the doctor says yes. That’s a tough question for me to answer. Inside I want to say yes, yes it’s doing, that’s going to happen, but it hasn’t. So it’s going to be up to the doctor, and we need to get him back. He’s been a productive player on the field when he was healthy.

Q: What’s the importance of having a veteran like Fred Jackson on an offense that is breaking in new quarterbacks?
A: I think it’s very important. I think Fred is a great professional. I think for the most part he’s made great decisions, except one. We all know about it, we just talked about it. That was a poor decision for everybody on offense, not just Fred. In general, it helps. It helps a lot. I think that veteran leadership, they’ve been through a lot. I think the players understand what happens, especially the veterans. They have a vision of what they’re looking for. Everyone in the locker room, make sure they’re accountable. Make each other accountable. I think that’s important. I think also the younger players, leadership is a funny thing. We talk about it all the time, we can go ahead and state the qualities of it, but how do you develop it? There’s really not a book out there that says take this person at this age, this is what you do to them and they’ll be a leader. There’s a lot of books that’ll tell you what qualities leaders have, but not how to develop it. I think one of the things I’ve learned is when you have someone that has those skills, the first thing to be a great leader is to lead by example. I think Fred has done a great job of that. I think a lot of young players or players that have been around a little look up to him and see what he does and I’m comfortable with that. He’s done a good job.

Q: Will he be getting some extra wind sprints today?
A: They got me. There’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself. We all do. This job is obviously a precious situation. It’s a high performance business and shoot you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself at times.

Q: They’re off tomorrow and then Friday is a normal walkthrough?
A: Yeah. Day before the game, normal day before the game as we head out to Washington. We’ll work tomorrow as coaches. Players are off. We’ve all got to work, they don’t.