Head Coach Doug Marrone**
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Obviously we just concluded our mandatory minicamp. The players are breaking now and it will be a quick turnaround for us. We're excited about reporting at St. John Fisher.
Q: Was having Jim Kelly here planned? Can you comment on him being here.
A: To answer the first part of the question, no it wasn't planned. We always appreciate him. Personally for myself, I miss having Jim around. He was great for myself and great for Coach Hackett and coming around, talking to us, having great insight and being a true Bill in every sense of the word. We're with him. We're fighting through this. Just like he's been there with us trying to fight through what we're going through. We support him and it was great for him to get out there and be amongst the team, which I think he feels comfortable about and having the strength to address them. He made a good point and it's one that we drive home with the players. Buffalo is a special place with special people in this area. Jim's message was that when he was a player they supported him. Obviously now, through his fight and his battles, they're supporting him just as much, if not more now. I think that says a lot for the people in this region. I think that's a good point and our players have to understand that.
Q: Are you excited about having a little bit longer of a training camp?
A: I'm excited, I really am. I'm excited that we have those extra days. I wasn't as excited last year because we had the least amount of practices. Now we will have the most amount of practices. So, I'm excited about that because we need that and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.
Q: Can you remember a season in your coaching career where you had so many practices?
A: Yeah, I remember when we used to report in March. It's a product of what has gone on. Obviously, I like doing things and I like being around the players. I like it, but the rules are the rules and we play within the rules. But before, yeah there's been some long training camps and long meetings and long days.
Q: Can you talk about what you like about Chris Hairston getting snaps at guard?
A: He's a big body and it's a position for that. We have Kraig Urbik. we have Chris there. We have some of those younger guys that are playing that position. Like we said, it's hard to judge at this time of year in shorts and how it's going to shake out, especially up front. So we're putting everyone in there and giving them an opportunity to learn that stuff so they can go ahead and compete.
Q: Is that the plan when you go to camp?
A: I think we will see how that goes as we get closer to camp.
Q: Can you gauge how far EJ might be from the end of last June to where he is now?A: Quite a bit further. Especially with the amount that we have in and the amount that was given to him. I think it's always this stage in a young quarterback's career, especially one that hasn't practiced as much as him because of the injuries. Out of everyone on the football team, make no mistake about it, that position has the most. He's put in a lot of work. He has a much, much better understanding and it's exciting. What you hope to see as training camp and the installation goes in, you hope to see it better the next time around. What happens after that is that is starts getting better because now the playbook starts reducing to what you're going to do. So, it's a natural reaction. The thing that we were concentrating on, like I said before, was to make sure that he had the fundamentals that a lot of people might not be able to see because we're always looking for the end result. But I think in these last couple of days, we've had some good results with yesterday probably being the best day that he's had on third down when he was here. There are a lot of things that are going on that you get excited about and we have to carry that on and do that when the preseason comes.
Q: Can you speak to the importance of the next month when it comes to retention since these guys aren't at practice everyday?A: I've always had a philosophy that you never really start where you left off. I've always said that. I talked to the players early on about retention, meaning we're going over a lot of things and putting a lot of information in and it's important that you can retain this stuff when we report to camp. We're going to go ahead and reinstall the same installation that we've done over these days. This way they get the same installation at least three times. When you do that and they can recall the plays and what we want to do, that enables them to concentrate on the technique and the little things that can really make a difference. So when we talk about retention, that's what we're looking for. Being able to retain so that we can get into more of the detail of what we're trying to accomplish.
Q: So when you go to camp, you're saying you reinstall the sets but it's more of an overview of what these guys already know?
A: Well, when I say, "You never really start where you left off." If you take that for granted, it'll get you. We installed three segments the same way, so they get the information presented to them three times the same way, training camp being the third time they are exposed to it. This means that you'd hope that when they get the information, the stuff you've already spent a lot of time on you can get through more quickly and get to the little things that make a big difference. If you're still spending time on stuff you went over the first time we installed, the philosophy and what not of it, then you have to slow it down. That's why you'll see teams during training camp, they'll say, "We need to stop the installation and slow this thing down, and we'll pick it back up later on."
Q: It seemed a little physical at the end of practice today, is that something you saw also and is that good heading into training camp?
A: No, absolutely not. I wouldn't use the term physical, I would say we're going out there and executing our plays. This is the time of year in the NFL and on our team where we're not looking to be combative and physical and knocking each other down because we're trying to get our players mentally prepared. I can't make those comments.
Q: What do you think of the mental execution, or the knowledge of plays, going to the right places, things like that. Was it improved and were you satisfied with what you saw?
A: There's certain amount of categories of people. To be general, and comment about everyone, it's kind of tough. You have rookies, first year players, you have veterans, but I was very pleased with the rookies, and I think that's a good measure of the teaching that's going on and how well other people should be picking it up. So from that standpoint, did we see times where information became, for lack of a better word, overwhelming? Yes, and we had to step back with those players, but overall I'd have to say we were very happy with the way they were able to retain that information. Especially the stuff we put on Sammy's [Watkins] plate, being the first pick, and even a couple of the other guys, too.
Q: Did you feel that Marcell (Dareus) did a good job getting back to work on the field this week?
A: Our goal was to come back here and for him to be focused. I think he did a very good job focusing on the football part, and now, when he leaves, we talked about focusing on the next step, and getting ready to come to camp.
Q: This next month when the players aren't at camp and reporting from the same place, how important is it to keep that stability, and make sure people aren't getting into trouble, especially with a young team, how much responsibility is put on the veteran leadership? Do you say anything to the team about that?
A: I think it's more as an individual, morally, you just do the right thing. So I don't even look at it beyond that. It's my obligation to make sure I say something about it. Sometimes I'll mention it just to reiterate something I've always said. I look for my players to be good role models, I look for them to be good in the community. We have a lot of young people that are going to come watch us play. It's part of the message that we give to our players. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely, but we're constantly trying to correct it and do it the right way.
Q: How can guys get better over the next month while they're not here, leading into training camp?
A: I don't know if I have enough time to answer that question because there are a lot of things that you can do. One thing you can do, you have to be careful from a nutrition standpoint, a sleep standpoint, you have to get ready. You're going to a training camp, it's a lot more difficult than people think. Not only from a physical standpoint, but for some the emotional part. Am I going to make this team? Am I not going to make this team? Did I have a bad play? Did the coaches think I had a bad practice? There's a lot going on mentally that you have to be prepared for. It's not easy to go through that camp and at the end of the day we sit down and we write about players, so and so didn't make the team, so and so didn't get cut, and we take it for granted that this is a life changing experience for these guys. And I don't think anyone who hasn't gone through it before really understands the amount of work that they put into it. If you think that these guys are just going to leave here and go lay out on a beach somewhere and do nothing all day and just report to camp, it can't happen. There's testing that gets done at camp that these guys have to be ready for because physically they need to be at a certain level in order to be able to compete.
Q: What effect might having a bit of a shortened break, only a month, have on the team?
A: Hopefully good. From a retention standpoint, it's a quick turnaround so we should be in good shape.
Q: Are there any players that you aren't expecting to be ready for the start of camp from an injury perspective?
A: Not to my knowledge, not that I know of no. With T.J. [Graham] we were just being careful at the end of today, we do expect him to be ready to go, outside of any setback I am still unaware of, he looked like he was running around pretty good to me.