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Alex Van Pelt Pre-Game Press Conference

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Q: Well you've been around six years?

AVP: Well actually this is nine.

Q: Oh, six with the Bills?

AVP: Yes.

Q: And nine overall?

AVP: Nine overall, but the first two years I was active for three games and two games each.

Q: You've been a patient guy?

AVP: You have to be in this business I guess.

Q: As I recall there was one year where you played quite a bit?

AVP: Right.

Q: But the results weren't quite the same?

AVP: Right.

Q: Now you are getting pretty good results on a team that is starting to turn things around?

AVP: I think the biggest thing from, I think it was '97 when I got three starts that year, the biggest thing now is the offense we are running. The 'West Coast' is something I was very familiar with from college and I really enjoy running and I think that's helped a lot in our success.

Q: As they say, 'the course is for horses' and that offense is right for you because 10 touchdowns in the time that you've played…there are a lot of guys in this league that have played since the beginning of the year that haven't got 10 touchdowns?

AVP: Yeah, well we have some guys making some plays and that's a tribute to everybody really. Peerless Price has quite a few touchdown catches and he's done a great job of stepping up and making plays when it matters.

Q: It must have felt good last week to get a win, not only for you but for everybody?

AVP: Yeah these guys, the biggest thing I've said all year, these guys have kept working. You know nobody's giving up. Nobody's cashing in and even when you go out and watch practice on a Wednesday and a Thursday, you know you are 1-10, that's an opportunity for a lot of guys just to tuck their tales and run. These guys have done an exceptional job of working and staying with it and staying positive and it really felt good to get that one for a lot of people last week. It was a big win.

Q: Can you comment on Coach [Mike] Sheppard's influence on you right now and how quickly you were able to adapt to what he was looking for from the 'West Coast' offense?

AVP: Right now we are still working. We're still learning. We're still growing. I mean I think this is his first year of calling the 'West Coast' system. A lot of our guys obviously this is there first year of running it. So we are still light years away from where we are trying to get to, but we're making strides, we're making progress. You know he's being patient with us and we are just trying to learn it. I mean it takes a while to get this thing down to a science where you are running it with the effectiveness of a San Francisco or Green Bay and right now we're just trying to learn it ourselves as players as he is as calling it as a coach.

Q: They say it is a tight end friendly system and you have Jay Riemersma. Could you just comment on working with him and how he's been able to work in this system?

AVP: Well Jay is one of those guys, he was a quarterback at Michigan before he went over to tight end, so he's a very smart player and we've been together now for long enough where you get to be pretty much on the same page with a guy. You know what he is going to do. You know how he is going to run his routes. So timing and things like that come into play and last week he made some key plays in that game against Carolina to setup the go-ahead touchdown there towards the end.

Q: You have been an observer to the quarterback situation and controversies there. Did you ever think you would finally get an opportunity to play and have some long-term effect?

AVP: You know that's what you hope for. I mean that is why we all play the game, obviously. But I had some good advice from Steve Bono when I was in Kansas City for a short stint. I think he had bounced around and been with quite a few teams and then he got his chance in Kansas City to play and he just said, 'Hey just keep working, stay alive and when your chance comes take advantage of it.' And that was great advice.

Q: Buffalo has had a history of long-term backups?

AVP: Yes.

Q: And with success with one of the greatest playoff game comebacks ever?

AVP: That's true.

Q: So they always treated you well there and you just figured it was a matter of time?

AVP: Yeah, you just have to stay ready. The biggest thing is when the opportunity does come, to take advantage of it because I could have gone out and played poorly and never get a chance again. So you just have to put yourself in a situation and prepare every week like you are going to be the starter even when you are the third. I mean the lessons you learn from the sidelines and from the film room and watching what other guys do is a huge part of what we are doing now.

Q: Did you take a lot out of the first game against the Patriots this year, even though you didn't play?

AVP: Actually I did play in that one.

Q: Oh yeah, you did. That's right, Rob Johnson got hurt.

AVP: Yeah, I did play a little bit.

Q: Does that help? Does that give you some background?

AVP: Well you know what it does do is for a lot of the young guys on the team is it's the second time now we are going to be facing the Patriots and it is something that our young guys can really take and say, 'OK, I played against this guy last time. Maybe there are some things I could do better. There are some things I know about him already, some match up things like that.' But offensively I thought we did some good things, whether or not we'll take the same approach with the game plan this week I'm not sure. But anytime you are playing a [Bill] Belichick defense you've got to be ready for anything and everything and that's going to be key for us on Sunday is to make adjustments or make any changes that we need to pick up anything in protection or maybe change some routes up because they do such a great job defensively of giving you a lot of looks and bringing pressure from a lot of areas.

Q: That is one thing you have when you play Belichick twice a year, that kind of chess game that goes on?

AVP: Yeah, he's a great coach and we've had those struggles here for a long time playing against him and even back with the Jets. They have multiple looks, multiple fronts, multiple substitutions. The people that they bring in, we really have to be on our toes and do some extra film work this week and try to, I don't know if you can ever really figure it out, but just try to figure out what we can do to help us succeed.

Q: In the first game you had sort of musical lineman as I recall?

AVP: That's right.

Q: That has been somewhat solidified and you are the beneficiary of that I would assume?

AVP: Absolutely. The offensive line now, they've come together and they've gelled just playing the same spots now. I think that game we had Jerry Ostroski starting his first game at right tackle coming back early from a broken leg and we moved some people around. Jonas Jennings, a rookie, was at left tackle. So that line that you saw actually isn't the line you'll see this week. We still had some moves that we made after that that has solidified our offensive unit and our offensive line.

Q: You must feel pretty comfortable having [John] Fina and Ruben Brown on your left flank? I am sure that contributed to the 10 touchdowns as well?

AVP: Yeah there's a lot of experience between those two guys and they've done a great job. John's been a little nicked up this year and he's battled and he's been out there fighting maybe sometimes when he maybe shouldn't have been physically, but now I think he's feeling better and playing better and of course Ruben is always a mainstay at the left guard spot. He's a super player, great intensity and great technique and athleticism. So that definitely helps the left side.

Q: Did you two cross paths at Pittsburgh or were you before him?

AVP: I was before him, but we did play together for two years and still are very close friends today.

Q: Since the last time you saw the Patriots, what changes have you seen in the team that you are going to be facing?

AVP: It seems like they are leaning towards a little bit more the 43 front with three linebackers. It looks like they are playing a little different personnel in there at times. Matt Stevens is getting some playing time. You can't really look back at our film last time and say, 'OK, here's exactly what they are going to do to us,' because we know that that's probably not going to happen. So basically you go in with the thought of, 'Here's what we think is going to happen and if something does change, let's get to something that is going to help us out.' You know like I said before either with protection or with routes or with the running game.

Q: With a first-year head coach I am sure you started out on fresh ground with him. Are you at a position now where you feel like you are winning the starting job?

AVP: Well I'm not…that's not a decision for me to make, but my biggest concern is just to help these guys win right now. What happens next year? That will be a whole lot of talk in the offseason, but right now I'm just trying to stay focused and take it one game at a time

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