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EJ Manuel: "I want to make that big jump"

QB EJ Manuel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Q: How was your offseason?A: My offseason was good. Very productive and I'm excited to be back.

Q: You met up with some guys in Florida first and then in California so you could practice with them. Can you talk about that?A: Actually it was California first, but as far as football I really didn't take a true offseason necessarily as far as straight up taking time off. I might have taken one week after I left Buffalo to hang out with my family and then after that it was getting myself healthy and also getting smarter in the film room. We had a workout in California for a week and we had another workout down in Miami. I had a great group of guys that came and we got a lot of work done.

Q: How many days were they?A: Miami was for four days and California was for five.

Q: In California was C.J. Spiller, Tony Moeaki, Brandon Kaufman, Chris Gragg and some of those guys. Who was in Miami?A: Stevie (Johnson), Kevin Elliott and Brandon Kaufman.

Q: Stevie said you were more vocal when you were working out. Do you feel your confidence level has been raised with a year under your belt?A: Yeah, definitely. The main reason was because I've been doing so much studying I can pretty much go out there and call whatever I want to call. We were playing around with audibles and changing up some of our verbiage and stuff like that to work on in the OTA's when we get back out on the practice field. As far as me maturing as a quarterback and as this team's quarterback, that is what they want from me. That's what I want to be able to do, I want to have the responsibility to tell those guys that the route wasn't right and they won't take that personally.

Q: How much were you able to digest and put in to perspective what you went through last year and how much will you be able to grow from that?A: Tons. I think I looked at every rep that I took last year and I've learned from all of them. Whether it was a good play or a bad play, I had some success and I had some bad games as well which is obvious. I'm just looking forward to now the ultimate goal which is moving forward to this next portion of our offseason. Getting everybody back in Buffalo and it's cool to see familiar faces, it's not like I'm brand new anymore. It was really good to see everybody this morning.

Q: Would you characterize yourself as a full participant this morning?A: Full participant.

Q: Now that you look back on last year, besides the injuries how would you characterize how you played? Were you happy as a rookie or did you feel you needed to be better?A: I think previous to the injury; well I had the injury, the first one, in preseason so I think I played pretty good. I know there is a lot of area for me to grow and that's why I took these last four months to allow that growth. Even when I was trying to rehab and things like that I was still trying to get better mentally. I think there is a lot out there for myself as a quarterback to get better.

Q: Doug Marrone and Doug Whaley have been very clear in their comments that if they brought in a quarterback it would only be to serve as a mentor for you because this is your team. How much does that support mean to you?A: That's huge. I'm already a motivated person anyway, but having that added support from the higher ups like our head coach, our GM and our president--that helps me get up even more motivated every morning. I don't mind waking up at whatever time to get ready and get here to be prepared. To know that they're counting on me, I'm counting on them just the same way. We're all in this together to try to get this team turned around.

Q: How would you react if the Bills drafted a quarterback?A: Whoever we do draft, even if it's a quarterback, I am a good teammate. So whoever it is, if he comes in and wants to compete that's great, but I'm going to still continue to get better ultimately for myself to help bring this team up because I really feel like when I play better everything is going to change, so I've been busting my tail.

Q: How much do you feel there is a need to prove yourself?A: I agree. A year after you're drafted you have one year under your belt so I know you usually want to make that big jump from your rookie year to your second year, your sophomore year. I'm eager about it. I'm very excited and I think I'm taking the right steps right now. I tried to jot down everything I felt I needed to work on and I felt like I made the proper steps up to this point and helped myself get prepared for that so now it's just staying a part of the plan.

Q: What can you tell us about how your knees are?A: No limitations. I haven't had any limitations throughout the whole offseason since it was time for me to start working out and running and throwing. No limitations at all, I feel great.

Q: What did you think of the acquisition of Mike Williams?A: I think that was a huge pickup for us. Besides him being a Buffalo native and I think that's great for the city for Mike to come back home and play for his hometown team, but I'm very excited to have him as part of our receiving corps. We have great talent at receiver already, but to add Mike in to that mix is going to be really good for us.

Q: According to the offseason rules, you have your exit meetings at the end of the season and then you can't meet with them until today. So how do you come up with your plan for this offseason?A: Yeah definitely. It was back and forth. I went ahead and told him what I felt I needed to work on and he just piggybacked off of it. I was pretty spot on to whatever he thought because I'm very honest with myself. I'm not going to sit here and say a 6-10 season is ok because it's not. I know me as a quarterback, I can extremely help that. We both had some great ideas moving forward and like I said I've been sticking to that plan and want to remain on it.

Q: So did you have last year's playbook or did you turn it in?A: We returned the iPad, but I have a paperback book of it.

Q: So you had an offseason game plan? Did you watch a lot of film of yourself from last season?A: Right, we have access to what is called the ThunderCloud and you can go on that. We used to have Hudl, but we changed to ThunderCloud so I had access to that. I was in contact with our IT guys upstairs throughout the whole offseason making sure things were updated.

Q: So you could watch anything you needed?A: Yeah, I had everything. I still made trips here and did some studying here as well, but for the most part I still made sure I was getting everything I needed wherever I was.

Q: For someone who didn't have injury trouble until last year, do you just chalk it up as one of those weird situations and how eager are you to prove that you can stay on the field?A: I'm very eager. I haven't had any setbacks since I had everything taken care of and it's healed up great. I feel fine, I feel normal and I think that was one of the things last year. Sometimes it doesn't feel normal anytime you have an injury and I'm very eager to play a full 16 game regular season. Having five preseason games is going to help not just myself, but our team. Guys that may not have gotten reps or more reps in the preseason, they'll get a better chance to show what they can do. For me it will be five more times to get ready before we get in to the regular season.

Q: How beneficial is it to be a part of a team at this time this year compared to last year?A: It's awesome. I guess last year this time I was probably on a flight to one of the teams and doing private workouts or visiting with coaches and things like that. To have all that stuff done, the whole process out of the way and just being able to focus from January to this point now as far as getting ready for September has been great for me. I know who I'm working with, I know my teammates and they know me. I know the guys families better, I know the veteran guys. Obviously I know all the rookies because we came at the same time and I know the veterans better now. We hung out over the offseason and had a good time, so it's a lot better feeling.

Q: This last offseason you worked with Ken Mastrole, you have your own coaches here, but did you go back to him this offseason?A: I worked out with Ken a little bit, but I mainly did my work with Steve Calhoun. He has Armed and Dangerous Football camps or whatever it's called, but he's my quarterback trainer. He's helped me out a lot, especially with the footwork. After my knees healed up you had to kind of get back in to the actual movements you would do in a game so he helped me out a lot.

Q: Where is he based?A: He's based in Los Angeles and I had him come out to Florida to me.

Q: Was that your first time working out with him?A: It wasn't. I knew Steve my junior year of college, so we've had a previous relationship form that point.

Q: How much do you pay attention to the prospects that the Bills are looking at in the draft and for selfish reasons do you hope they bring in an offensive guy?A: I definitely pay attention to them because I watch games on Saturdays just like everybody else does so you're obviously going to catch the best talent out there. I know (Eric) Ebron is a great player, a great tight end. Mike Evans is another great receiver and any time you watch Johnny Football (Johnny Manziel) you see Mike Evans. I think whoever they do draft, obviously I'm going to be excited to have them on our team. Whether they go offense or defense I think it will be a great piece to add to our team.

Q: Did you meet Mike Evans today?A: I didn't. I've been rolling all morning so I haven't had the chance to meet him, but if he's still here I'll talk to him.

Q: How do you feel about the addition of quarterbacks coach Todd Downing?A: I thought it was good. I knew Todd Downing from the Senior Bowl, so he and I worked together for a week and we kept in contact while he was in Detroit and I was with the Bills. We kept in contact, just saying what's up and things like that. It's funny how things happen, I think Todd is going to be a great addition to our room and I know he's going to do a great job helping us.

Q: Did you accomplish what you set out to do when working out with the guys in Florida and California?A: Yeah, I think the biggest thing was to get back in to football mode. We had receivers working out where I was anyways and they were great receivers from around the league, but at the same time I want to throw to my guys. As far as getting the timing down or enunciating plays and changing plays at the line, this is the time you can do that stuff. When you're in the game, you need to just execute what we have called. When you get the opportunity to go out on the field and it's just you five or six guys and nobody is watching or timing you, you can take all the time you want and go through out everything you want to do.

Q: Did Chad Ochocinco join the group in Miami?A: Yeah, he came out one day. I'm young still, so a guy like Ochocinco wanting to come out and catch some balls with me was awesome. He's a very funny guy and an interesting dude. He still has it, he's pretty good. Q: Were you at the Rose Bowl?
A: Yeah.

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