The Bills returned to practice Wednesday, looking ahead to Sunday's game at Indianapolis against the Colts. Below is a transcript of comments, beginning with head coach Chan Gailey:
Q: How is RB Fred Jackson doing and will he be out there today?
A: Yes, he will be at practice today and as I understand it he has been fully cleared to play. We expect him to play this weekend.
Q: How about DE Chris Kelsay?
A: Kelsay will be on the practice field today. Still want to go through some drills with him to make sure everything feels OK. He has been cleared medically but he has to feel right, too. Fred's was a little more clear about either playing or not playing.
Q: QB Brad Smith and DT Spencer Johnson will be back?
A: They will be back on probably a limited basis, but they will be back.
Q: With everything that has happened with head injuries, to have Jackson go through that, is it something they put extra emphasis on?
A: The protocol today for concussions and concussion-like-symptoms is very strict. They are doing a much better job of handling that and making sure a guy does not come back too quickly from something like that. It is all positive when it is cleared and handled that way. It is negative when it is not handled properly.
Q: When Jackson is back, does that automatically make you a better red zone team? He does a lot for you.
A: I hope so, but we do not change drastically. He helps us because he is a great football player. Great football players help you wherever you are. He is going to help us get there, as well as score touchdowns.
Q: Do you go back to the rotation with RB C.J. Spiller and Jackson now that Jackson is healthy?
A: C.J. will start but we are still going to play Fred. It takes two. It does. Fred will get quite a few snaps, but C.J. will start and get the majority of the snaps.
Q: Is the inconsistency in the red zone play-calling? Is it the wrong personnel against the wrong defense? What do you identify as the issue?
A: A little bit of all of that. I could have a little bit of better design in some of the plays that we are using. We need to execute a little bit better. We need to pass protect a little bit better. We need to get the yards that are there. Sometimes we are not getting the yards that are there. It is a little bit of all of that. If it was one thing, we could solve it. It is not. We will play good one week and we will play not good the next week. It boils down to consistency. People ask me what was the issue with defense for two or three weeks there--it was consistency. We were a lot more consistent last week. That is why we played so much better defensively.
Q: Will Spiller and Jackson still rotate carries every two series?
A: We will see. Nothing is set in concrete there right now.
Q: QB Andrew Luck seems to be a cut above other rookie quarterbacks. Is that what you are seeing?
A: He is a great football player. He has got great patience. He has an unusual amount of maturity in the pocket. He does not get rattled. He has handled himself extremely well, in my opinion, through this season. He is a challenge, that is for sure. There is a reason he was the first pick.
Q: What about his mobility? A lot of people do not realize how mobile he is.
A: To be honest with you, he can run the ball but he is not a big runner. He scrambles to throw. He does not scramble to run. His mobility is really an asset to him to be able to get out and make yards. If it is all covered he does not force the ball. He will run around and either takes the run or more often than not he will throw it.
Q: A lot of people say when he is on the run and throws, he is better than when he is in the pocket. What do you think?
A: Well I do not know if he is better, but he is good at both right now unfortunately.
Q: DE Shawne Merriman acknowledged that after he was released earlier in the season the perception in the league was that he was washed up. Evidently he is not.
A: Yeah, he played the best he has played since he has been here the other day in the ball game. Hopefully we can build on that. Hopefully he can build on that and the more he plays, the more it helps our football team. So it is good to have another guy that can go in there. Probably his confidence level has taken a notch up a little bit. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with him as the next few weeks unfold.
Q: Were you surprised Merriman was still available when you needed him?
A: I guess I was, yeah. It was not like he did poorly when he was here. We were just kind of stacked up with guys. So I was a little bit surprised, but pleasantly surprised.
Q: DE Kyle Moore has been playing over 80-percent of your snaps. If Kelsay comes back, has Moore earned to stay in there?
A: He will stay in. I do not think he will play 80-percent still, but he will be in there a lot of snaps because he has earned the right. Guys that play well earn the right to play. It is not a detriment to the guy he is alternating with. Some guys earn the right to play. (Da'Norris) Searcy earned the right to play some snaps. George (Wilson) is not doing anything wrong. George is playing good, but Searcy has earned the right. There are a lot of situations like that which come up through a season.
Q: TE Scott Chandler offers a mismatch just by being 6'7", but how has he enhanced that mismatch since he has been here?
A: I think he has learned to become a lot better route runner since he first got here. Maybe part of that was us not recognizing what he could do. You have to let a guy get here and play, then learn what his strengths are and use those strengths to your advantage. He is exceptional in the red zone. We have to try to keep using him in the red zone. He is a good one-on-one player, so we have to try to find spots to get him involved.
Q: You always refer to division games as two-fers. Given the way the standings look right now, would you refer to this as one of those games?
A: Yeah I would. Somebody that is ahead of you, and we talk about having the opportunity to play against teams that are ahead of you in the playoff chase, not only do you get the win, but you give them a loss. Sure, it falls in the same category.
Q: The last two weeks you had 14 and then 11 penalties. That is above your average of 5.5. What is the cause of that?
A: I think there are a lot of little mistakes that we are making pre-snap that are hurting us right now. We have to avoid those pre-snap penalties. The post-snap penalties are going to happen. Most of those post-snap penalties in New England were pass interference, illegal contact or something like that. Then we had two or three of those the other day. A lot of these are pre-snap penalties that we just have to get more disciplined in our lines to eliminate that.
Q: WR Stevie Johnson's numbers are down this season. What is the reason for that?
A: A couple of things. One, people are focusing more on him than they have in the past. He gets doubled a lot more than he ever has before. I think that is probably the number one thing that you look at. We are still trying to do the same things we did last year with him but we are not getting some of the same results at times.
Q: How is Johnson feeling?
A: I think he is fine. I think he is a lot better than he was in the first four or five games of the year.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: When you take a look at this Colts defense, New England got points on them, what do you see in terms of opportunities there for your offense?
A: Yeah. New England gets points on everybody and there was the three touchdowns by special teams and defense. I think the score got out of hand there for a variety of reasons. The biggest thing with these guys, playing in their building especially, you look at their pass rushers and the pressure they get on the quarterback. They are a fairly aggressive defense. Like to play a lot of man-to-man coverage. That will be the biggest thing for us, being able to limit the effectiveness of their pass rushers and being able to get the ball out to make big plays.
Q: Do DE Dwight Freeney and DE Robert Mathis present different challenges now that they are coming at you from a 3-4 defense?
A: When they get into pass rush mode, there is some stuff that is a little bit different on first and second down, but on third down they are in pass rush mode pinning their ears back there is not a huge difference in what they do. They are certainly guys that pop out on film, just in terms of their speed off the ball and how dynamic they are.
Q: Is the Colts' defense similar to the Ravens and the Jets?
A: Not really. San Diego, they do some similar stuff that San Diego has done just because that is where they came from. I do not think you can really compare them to the Ravens or the Jets much.
Q: Are you amazed at what Colts QB Andrew Luck has been able to do?
A: Yeah, I watched the last game on TV versus the Patriots and that was the first time I was able to sit back and watch him play. Even in that game, a game with the turnovers and whatever else happened, you could tell he was very impressive. I think his mentality and you already see guys looking up to him as a leader and following him with his demeanor. That is the kind of stuff when I am looking at a quarterback is impressive to me. He has already got all of that, which for a rookie is very impressive.
Q: Destiny is not completely in your control and you get to face Indianapolis a team you are trailing. How important is it?
A: You are right. They are all important. Our next game against a team that is ahead of us in the standings right now. We always talk about division games being two-for games and all of that but you can really put this in the same category. Just in terms of a team that is ahead of us. We need to get a win and give them a loss. That would be a very good thing for us obviously.
Q: A lot of your teammates have talked about this being the playoffs. Is that the mentality?
A: Yeah, that is the mentality. Every week that is what we are looking at it as. We are playing for our playoff lives right now. We cannot really expect to go out there, not win this game and still have a realistic shot at it. We have to go out there in a hostile environment and win the game. Just try to continue on a nice little streak at the end here.
Q: How frustrating has the inconsistencies in the red zone been? What is going to be the secret to getting some level of consistency there?
A: I think we have had two poor performances in the red zone, looking at Houston the way we played and the Miami game the way we played. Those were two very poor performances. It is just one of those things, how did we respond after the Houston game? I think we did a good job. Hopefully we respond well after this Miami game, but it is just something that the difference between three and seven. You do not have to be a mathematician or a rocket scientist to figure out when you get down there if you can convert those into touchdowns it is so big for your team. That is something that the consistency is what you always talk about. We need to be able to make those plays down there to get the points.
Q: Is the red zone where you have missed RB Fred Jackson the most?
A: We missed Fred in every aspect. I know that C.J. (Spiller) has done a great job and he rushed for almost 100 yards in the game, but there is just so many things that Fred does for our team. It is not only in the red zone, it is not only on third down, screen game or protection stuff--he is such a well-rounded player that whenever he is not in the lineup we miss him in every phase of the game.
Q: Don't you think you have to be able to go out there on third-and-short and prove that you can run the ball?
A: Yeah, the third-and-one or third-and-two that is smash mouth football. You have to be able to line up. I think we talked about this last week, but our running game is a lot of spread them out with three wide receivers on the field. Let our guys get in space and get those mismatches, but we have to be able to run the ball on third-and-short, third-and-one and third-and-two situations. Put all our big people in there and just pound it up there. That is something we need to get better at.
Q: How much has CB/KR Leodis McKelvin helped this unit with his ability to return kicks and punts?
A: It has been great to see. Leo has been very dynamic back there. He is a guy that we have to watch on every play now just to see if he is going to take it back for a touchdown or not. That is kind of how it has been all year long and he has done a great job. He has been a nice little boost for our team.
Q: It seems like TE Scott Chandler is a consistent mismatch every week. Can you just speak to that?
A: Yeah, nobody is going to match up with him on defense just in terms of his height. I think we know that. He is a guy that has just gotten so much better in the last few years in route running ability, using his body and shielding off defenders. He is a guy that does a great job in going up for catches and so it is a mismatch that we feel like even if David Nelson was healthy this year, getting away from the four wide receiver stuff and getting him on the field more was probably something that was going to happen. With David going down, it has obviously happened a ton this year. It has given him more of an opportunity to show what he has and we have been very satisfied with the way that he has performed this year. Hopefully we can have a strong finish.
Q: Isn't Chandler supposed to be the guy in the red zone? He only had two catches last game.
A: He is a big time target. A guy we try to get the ball and I think other teams know that too. Sometimes when you are seeing teams double team down there in the red zone, they are trying to double team Scott, they are going to try to double team Stevie (Johnson) and force you to go to other guys. Yeah, (Chandler) is a guy we always look for down there.
DT Marcell Dareus
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: Do you feel as if your defense, people said it after the game a week ago, this is how you should have been playing all along? Do you feel like you are there and can maintain that level?
A: I don't feel like we are there yet. I still think we have some more work to do. There is always room for improvement.
Q: What kind of stuff do you want to improve on?
A: I just want to get after the quarterback consistently. As a defensive line, as a defense period, I really think that we can get after it better than we have. We are still working towards that.
Q: How much is the defense trust? Trust in the guy next to you to be able to do the job he has to do. How much does the game against like the one you had against Miami help with that trust in your teammates?
A: I can't speak for everybody else, but I trust the guy next to me, just like I trust one of my kids. I can't speak for everybody else, but the Miami game was just a game, we were expected to win that game. We went into that game with high hopes and we came out with what we expected.
RB Fred Jackson
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: Did you pass everything?
A: I did. Yeah, I'll practice today. I'll be out there today. It is a good feeling to get back out there with my teammates and try to get this thing started.
Q: Do they still have to monitor you the rest of the week?
A: I'm sure they will, but as far as being cleared, I have been cleared to do everything, but with the training staff they are always going to be cautious. I'm sure they will continue to monitor everything that is going on. I will come in and probably do some more tests and who knows. As of right now, I have been given the green light to do whatever.
Q: So as of now it is all systems go? You fully expect to play Sunday, no issues?
A: Without a doubt. That was I think why we were so cautious in the first place, so that once I got back out here I could hit the ground running and be able to go out there and play.
Q: When you are dealing with the head, is this the type of injury... I know you want to be out on the football field, but just overall health. Is this more of a scary injury when you are dealing with the brain and head?
A: It is, especially with some of the things we have seen go on recently with things like the great Junior Seau, things like that. You want to be cautious and make sure you are taking the right steps that you can be healthy after this game. It is just a game; you got a life after it, after this game, which you have to think of. We are always going to take the most cautious road possible and as of right now all lights are green for me to go there and play.
Q: Will this make the team more likely to run on third and short with you in there?
A: Well I hope so. I think that is what a running back wants to do on third and short be the guy they can lean on and run the ball to get that.
WR Stevie Johnson
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: Maybe there weren't high expectations for them this season. What have you seen that has maybe been the difference for them in being in the position they are in now?
A: They won when they needed to at the end of the day they have six wins, I don't know how many losses they have. They won when they needed to and we didn't. Now we are in the position where we are both fighting for this spot. There are a few teams out there, but this is going to be a big week for us in Indianapolis. We will see who comes to play this Sunday.
Q: The red zone is one thing that has been talked about a lot today. What has been the struggle with the team down there and what do you have to do differently?
A: I don't even know. I can't even call it. We do the same thing every week. Sometimes it is on and sometimes it is off, we just have to execute. This week is very big and very important that we do execute in the red zone, so that we can put these touchdowns on the board and give ourselves a better chance of winning.
Q: When you see Andrew Luck play, obviously you don't go up against him directly. He doesn't look like a rookie quarterback. Is it safe to say that he is not your everyday rookie?
A: The only thing that I see is highlights. I'll see a full game of him this Sunday. I know that he has talent, but I don't even check him out. The only thing I see of him in on ESPN or something.
Q: How about the Colts pass rush? They are regarded fairly highly. What does that do to your game plan?
A: Yea, watching film. They have a deep pass rush. They have always had good pass rush, but you know I have a lot of confidence in our line. Our offensive line can hold this down and make sure they protect Fitz. We should do good this Sunday.
Q: Going on over to the other side of the field a guy like Reggie Wayne, I'm sure that you watched before you even came into the league. It seems like you guys have some similarities in your game. When you see a guy like that on other side of the field does it step your game up when you are going up against top number one wide receiver?
A: I don't step my game up. I think every week I go out there and try to prove to the world and prove to my teammates that I'm a starting receiver in this league, that I am one of those factors. When I see a guy like him it's always going to be like a big brother, I haven't talk to him before but like watching your big brother work because him being a receiver, him being one of those vets in the league, so I want to do well so he can maybe notice me. It should be interesting and be fun, but hopefully Stephon (Gilmore) and them give him the business and he won't have a big game.
DE Chris Kelsay
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: When you look at Colts QB Andrew Luck he just doesn't seem like the typical rookie out there does he? I mean he just seems mature above where he is right now in the NFL.
A: Yeah he is, that is the reason he was drafted as high as he was. They felt that he could come in and play and play at a high level right away, and that is what he is doing. It's not your typical rookie quarterback that we are facing. He does a lot of things really well and it's on our backs now to make him one dimensional and make him uncomfortable.
Q: Their running game, some people maybe don't realize that they have a pretty good run game it's not just Luck that is doing their offense.
A: You are right. If you can run the ball well that sets up your play action pass, which they love to do. It gives Luck the chance to take shots down the field so we need to shut down the run first and foremost and make them one dimensional. If we can do that then we can pin our ears back up front and hopefully force him into some bad throws, and put them on the ground a few times and see where we turn up.
Q: What is the biggest thing with your defense that you have seen? I know you haven't been playing, but you have seen it, you have been in here watching it. What has been the biggest thing you have seen for the improvement in the last game?
A: Just sense of urgency. Getting on and off the blocks, getting eleven hats on the ball, playing accountable football, playing for one another and just taking it one play at a time, one series at a time and see where you end up. If you have that mentality good things are going to happen. Defensively, we have taken steps forward and we need to continue to do that.
DE Shawne Merriman
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: He (Andrew Luck) is big and tough to bring down. Does he remind you of a (Ben) Roethlisberger type?
A: Yeah, in a way. I think he is a little more mobile than Ben, but you have seen people have him by the waist and he still has been able to complete passes so he is definitely strong.
Q: What do you do with a guy like that? A guy who wants to hit the big play and wants drop deep in the pocket, there are opportunities there to get some pressure I would think.
A: Yeah, there are opportunities, but at the same time you have to contain him. If he gets outside of that pocket and is able to throw on the run and on the move he can make some big things happen. You just see guys covered up and him moving his feet and being able to throw the ball in places a lot of quarterbacks can't throw.
Q: How about the red zones? He has five maybe six rushing touchdowns in the red zone. You want to contain him, but you can't wait too long in red zone because it is a touchdown. What do you think about defending that situation?
A: When he gets down into that red zone area he is very accurate. He has been able to put the ball in the money. He knows when his blocking scheme is not there to throw it quick and make those decisions. We have to be conscious of that when they get down in the red zone.
Q: After all this time, Shawne is it nice to get back on the sack sheet again?
A: Yeah, what has it been since 2009? That is a long time not to go without a sack, but I have a good opportunity right now and I am trying to take full advantage of it. I have been through it all-the injuries, not being able to play and getting this opportunity right now. I just have to take advantage of it right now.
Q: What has it meant to you to be back? Discarded and then come back and make a contribution in a significant way?
A: Just extra motivation. For one, you can't lose your faith and positive attitude because I knew one day if I got another opportunity I would make good use out of it. I have one now to come back and play along next to a lot of great guys and I know what they need me to do. The plays that I do have I go out and produce.
RB C.J. Spiller
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Q: It has to be good to hear though, I know that you are a modest guy you are not going to go screaming, you are going to be in line for more carries and as a running back. You have to appreciate that?
A: I mean you do, but at the same time it's not like we aren't going to use number 22 (Fred Jackson). We are going to use him. He is a playmaker on our team and he's a leader on our team so like I said I'm just going to go out there when my number is called try and help my team win. Nothing really is going to change the way that I prepare now that I am going to be starting on Sunday.
Q: Have they changed the rotation with you guys going into this game?
A: Not really, they pretty much leave that up to us, me and Fred. He and I do a good job looking out for each other out there on the field. We have a good sense of when a guy needs a break or when we are going to switch it up. That is the thing that we loved about it that they lef
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