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Doug Marrone: "We want to get this group up to par"

Posted May 10, 2013

Head coach Doug Marrone comments after the first day of rookie minicamp.

HC Doug Marrone

Friday, May 10, 2013

Opening Statement:

Coming out as coaches with the rookie minicamp, and this is a little bit different than some of the other rookie camps I have been involved with, our goal as coaches was to come out here and get with these players. Start teaching them the playbook, the offense, defense and special teams. Start working on even special teams. Really just trying to get a chance to know them, how they learn, what they do and really teach them our tempo of practice and what our expectations are out of them. That was the goal going into today. Trying to make sure they know that because we will be transitioning into OTAs next week with the veteran players. We want to make sure we can get this group up to par as quickly as we possibly can. I think what we look for and we talk to the players about this, obviously who has showed up in shape, who is ready to play, who can go the full time and work at 110-percent. Really to make sure they get out there, play and try to make good first impressions.

Q: What were your first impressions of QB EJ Manuel?

A: I thought EJ (Manuel) did well, and I thought Jeff (Tuel) threw well. I thought both quarterbacks did a nice job coming in here. I thought what we gave them, not a large package, but we got them off and they looked like…both the quarterbacks got off to a good start. Again, the offensive line really blocked well today because it was mostly seven-on-seven. (Laughs) But no, I was happy with both quarterbacks today.

Q: It seemed like you spent more time watching the quarterbacks and let’s face it all eyes are on them. Was that not a coincidence?

A: Well it was not a conscious thing if that was the case. I think I was interested in looking at the wide receivers also because I wanted to make sure, I think you guys have seen me enough that I do rotate around quite a bit. I wanted to make sure I got the routes versus air when they were throwing to the receivers. I agree with your statement that people are going to be looking at that. I do not doubt that, but I was excited for the receivers. I thought they did a nice job.

Q: There has to be a level of excitement to get these young guys and see what they can do.

A: Well you know what I was curious about, honestly, coming out here was that a lot of times and you see this that these guys have never worked with each other before. One of the things you see is just kind of how they have a feel for each other. I have been in places sometimes where it is natural. Guys go out there and throw the ball around like they did today. I thought they did a good job. Sometimes you go out there and you have to get to a better feel of where they are going to be and where they are going. I thought both sides did a nice job of that. When we played against our defense versus the zone overages, we did a nice job. Then when the man comes and the timing and running through, I think things get a little bit more difficult so probably see some of a little bit more man coverage tomorrow and I will be interested to see how we separate.

Q: How much of this time do you get with the guys in meeting rooms?

A: A lot. Because that is really important to spend that time. We are coaches, we are teachers and obviously for us my goal and the goal of our coaches when we go into the classrooms is what is the best way they learn? Every one of the players in my experiences, every one of them learns a little bit differently. Whether you are up on the board, they are giving presentations, you are putting it up there, you are up there writing on the board, you are giving them notes or you are giving them quizzes. Things like that you are showing them film and you are walking them through. Making sure that, we are trying to make sure that we can get them better by understanding what is the best way they learn.

Q: How have your interactions with WR Da’Rick Rogers been? How have you gotten to know him and what type of person is he? Why does the organization feel comfortable that those issues in the past won’t come up again?

A: Well we spent a lot of time with him. We really did at the Combine and spoke to him. I have had experiences before, myself as a position coach, coordinator where we have taken some kids that made mistakes when they were younger. We do believe in giving people second chances, especially when they have shown for a long period of time that they have done a good job. You have an opportunity. I think I talked to them just like I have spoken to the other players. You have an outstanding opportunity. People are going to be watching. It is probably going to be your last shot. As long as you understand that, that is what you get yourself into. It is all on you. You have to make the right decision. Those types of people that make those mistakes, are some are going to make them again? Yes. They never really recover from it. Not many people do. We are hoping for him that he does a nice job and he is able to compete. Compete for a spot on our roster as well as all the players that are here.

Q: Does Rogers have trouble catching the ball or is there some questions about his hands?

A: No, I think overall if I said and I told this to the players afterwards, we have got to get them to practice to our tempo. We have got to get them ready to go. We have got to get them in shape. It is not any excuses about well it was travel, we woke up early and we did physicals. We are not about making excuses and I think they just all have to get up to that level. It is very difficult when you have been working. They probably worked extremely hard before the Combine. As much as you tell them to keep working after that Combine is over they let their breath out. Then it is pretty much in the NFL, a lot of times it is like recruiting. They go on all these trips like we have had people come in. So they are traveling around. You have to be very disciplined and have a lot of structure to yourself to go ahead and train that way. I think when they come in, I think they realize that, well hey it is going to be like it is in college and it is not. I explained that to them last night. It is going to be quite different. The one thing about this game and I have always said it—you guys have had the opportunity and been fortunate enough. I think when you are watching it on TV and you are watching it in the stands you never really get a sense of how fast those guys are moving on the field. I think come Monday it will be interesting to see the pace. You will watch all these players here together, which players are going to pick up that pace on Monday when the veterans come in.

Q: Is the size and speed the biggest transition for the guys that are coming from the smaller schools?

A: I have gone both ways with those kids. Everyone here realizes I had Jahri Evans from Bloomsburg. He started from day one and he is one of the better players in the league. I think the key to those players is to come in here and not have big eyes. Not come in and go, whoa, wow, look at this. I think if, hey here it is. There are 11 guys on that field. We all put our pads on the same way. I am going to go out there and compete. I think if they do not get awestruck or caught up in they are so-so and he went to the Pro Bowl. I think they have a good chance. If they get caught up with that then I think it is very difficult. That is the one thing when I talk to players or I have recruited players or did draft analysis on players that come from small schools. That is the one question I ask myself when I interview them: Is this going to be too big for them? And you find that out at the Combine a lot.

Q: Can you tell that already today?

A: It has been done before that at the Combine. I always liked working on the field at the Combine because then I can watch the players interact. So if you are from a smaller school and you have someone else from a big school who maybe he won a national championship, maybe he won an Outland trophy. I just watch how those players interact with each other. A lot of times you can see. If it is not too big for them, they have a good opportunity. And again, it is not 100-percent. Sometimes they can get here and you realize that. I told the players, the one thing I talked to them about last night was you are coming here with the opportunity to compete for a position. On Monday, at some point we are going to be at 90. Fifty-three guys are going to make the team. A lot of people do not talk that way to players. No one wants to bring that stuff up. That is just the reality of it and that is the way it is. If you are not going to have persistent thoughts about making this team and your thoughts are going to go other places you are going to have a tough time making it. No matter who you are.

Q: Did you see anything from LB Kiko Alonso that took you by surprise?

A: I don’t think anything would take me by surprise except the physicality of it. In this phase, it almost looked like he wanted to tackle someone and we can’t do that. And that’s one of the things we’re trying to teach them also. When the veterans come in, you don’t want to be on the ground. There’s not a lot of contact with your helmet. It’s all basically your hands and your feet moving. He looked like he was ready to start tackling today.

Q: Is that a good sign then, that someone’s first instinct is they want to hit something?

A: I think you just have to be careful. I think you have to be smart and we want smart football players. Is it a good sign that he’s like that? Yes, if we’re in full contact and he plays that way. Is it a good sign if we’re in this phase and he tackles someone? No, that’s not smart and that’s not what we’re looking for. But again, it wasn’t a point where I had to stop practice or say something. I just saw it and he was able to withhold himself the next couple plays. So, he did a nice job. It would be interesting to talk to him about today being the first time that we actually had the walkie-talkie hooked up to his helmet. That’s what I know I’m going to ask him when I’m done here because he’s probably not used to that. And I asked Pett (Mike Pettine), and Pett said he asked me if all the other players had them, too.

Q: You only get a chance to make a first impression once. What was your first impression of EJ, seeing him live today?

A: It’s what I expected. Again, to work on the footwork and he made some nice throws. What I expected, I didn’t think he’d come in here and be the polished guy that you have. You’re learning a new system. You’re learning new coaches. You’re getting a feel for yourself. I try to look at the players and just say okay, here’s where they are. Here’s how they are on the field. Because I think as a coach, I know I’ve had this problem, if I create expectations in my mind of players that I’ve never coached before, I can find myself getting in trouble. So, I try to go in there open-minded until I get around them and get to know them. But I was very happy obviously with EJ and Jeff (Tuel) as well.