BB: We downgraded [Terry] Glenn to doubtful and upgraded [Antwan] Harris and [Willie] McGinest to probable, and [Rod] Rutledge and [Richard] Seymour are probable. I think everybody's getting better, it's just a question of whether they'll be able to play in the game or not, that's all those reflect. Last year, even though there were a lot of different schemes and there were some different faces in the games, just going back and looking at last year's two games [between Buffalo and New England] just really takes you back to how competitive it was and how close those games were and how there were just a handful of plays in both games that had they been a little different, it could have been different for either team. That's just the way it's been with New England and Buffalo. Even before I got here, and it was certainly that way last year. I want to make sure that we've got all our bases covered as much as we can this week, not that you don't always do that, but just because it could come down to any one little thing and I just hope that we're alert enough and ready enough for whatever that situation is to be able to execute it and capitalize on it when it occurs. The red area, today… again, looking back at those games last year really highlights the play or two… especially in our first game, the overtime game that we lost, our inability to get the ball in the end zone for several plays down there inside the five-yard line and even inside the two-yard line was really costly. That's the way it's shaping up.
Q: How do you convince the players that this is still the same Buffalo team when you look at the roster and see all of the new guys?
BB: Well, they're not all different. There are some that are different, but they're not all different. The offensive skill people are the same, other than Larry Centers and [Travis] Henry. The backs are different, but the tight ends, [Jay] Riemersma and [Jeremy] McDaniel, [Eric] Moulds, Peerless Price is having a good year, a lot of the people on the defensive line, the corners, [Antoine] Winfield, [Ken] Irvin, they've added [Nate] Clements, so there are a lot of familiar faces and there are some new ones, no doubt about it. Just look at the games. Look at the San Diego game and that Jacksonville game, look at the games they've played and how tight they were and I think you see a team that can move the ball offensively that's had some big plays in the kicking game and has a good front on their defense and their corners are aggressive and they make a lot of plays on the ball.
Q: Did you have to do something to make sure to avoid the trap game and the shovel game and make the players aware of the danger of overlooking this team?
BB: I don't know. It's not like we're 8-0. It's not like we're at the top of the league. We're still trying to get over the hump and get above .500 for the first time this year. That's our goal and I think any time you play a division team, regardless of what the records are, we know what it's like. We were 0-4 going out to Denver last year, we had poor records in a couple of games and went in there and won them. If you look around the league and look at last week, you saw Kansas City go out and beat San Diego in a division game, and what was Kansas City? 1-5, 1-6, whatever it was. That's the way it is every week in this league, and I don't think it's about what their record is, I think it's about how this game is going to be played and a couple of turnovers by either team in any game and it can go that way. It just takes a couple of mistakes and that's how close it is.
Q: Did you expect Glenn to be practicing this week? I know you met with him on Sunday and upgraded him.
BB: No, it wasn't about that. I thought he would be better this week than he was last week and he is better this week than he was last week. But it's doubtful that he's going to be ready. But I think he's definitely better and I put him as questionable on Wednesday because I thought he had a shot, but even though he's made progress this week, I just don't think it's coming along fast enough where he'll be able to play. He hasn't practiced in two days. He'd have to come a long way in a short period of time now, so maybe it will happen and I think he's trying to make it happen, but I just don't… I doubt that it's going to happen.
Q: Is IR a consideration if he can't be on the practice field next week?
BB: I wouldn't do it right now, no. I wouldn't do it right now. I mean, I can't say never. I don't know when the breaking point is on that, but as long as there's progress and you can see some light at the end of the tunnel, which I think based on this week you could see, then he might have a chance to get there.
Q: How about Adam Vinatieri? He's been real steady this year.
BB: Adam has kicked field goals well. I think that there are times when he's kicked off well and there's been other times when it could be better, and I know he'd like for it to be better and he's worked hard on it, but Adam's had a good, solid year. He's been consistent from day one out there, the first day of training camp, well, really it starts in the offseason program. He worked very hard in the offseason program and I think made a little improvement from last year, even though he had a pretty good year last year. He's kicked well from day one. We've transitioned a couple of different people in there holding, but as we know with Adam, that doesn't really affect him. He's very consistent and the holder really has never had much of an impact on him. There are times when you'd like for kickoffs to be a little bit better, but in terms of field goal kicking, it's been pretty good.
Q: He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and I know you have to worry about the games, but it he someone you'd consider signing before the end of the year?
BB: I certainly wouldn't rule that out. I would not rule that out. I don't think it's really a good policy for me or the club to talk about contract negotiations that are ongoing during the season, but I wouldn't rule it out. He's certainly a guy that I have a lot of respect for, I think he's a good kicker and I'd like to have him as my kicker and I'd like for him to be on my team.
Q: Is the kickoff thing a matter of leg strength or technique?
BB: I'd say consistency. We've seen plenty of kicks that are good kicks and then there are others that aren't as good. But I don't think it's a question of a lack of ability, that he can't do it, because he's had plenty of good ones and we've asked him to do some directional kicking, where he puts the ball down in the corner and he's done a good job on that at times. I'm not saying that it's a big negative, but I'm saying that if there's one thing he can improve on, that would be the thing that he could improve on. The field goal and extra point kicking have been pretty good. It's been pretty good for a couple of years.
Q: Can you talk about Ben Kelly and if you plan on using him in the return game this week?
BB: We worked him a little bit this week, and I think that the first spot where he could get on the field would be in the return game as opposed to playing corner. I think he's going to need a little more time at corner to get comfortable with what we're doing and it's quite a bit different from what he was used to doing in Miami. That would be the decision. If we felt like he could help us in the return game, then we would activate him. I think that he showed some good, positive things this week depending on all the injuries and how everything falls out, whether we can afford to do that or not. If we could, then we would certainly do it. If not, then he may need to be on hold for another week, depending on our depth, or lack of depth I should say at some of those spots.
Q: Now with him on the roster, you have 12 defensive backs. What was the reason for bringing him in?
BB: When he was put on the wire, we had some good feelings for him. We're a little concerned about the return game overall. We're asking Troy [Brown] to do a lot on offense as well as the return game, so we're conscious that there's a little bit of depth there, a little bit of a depth issue there. Yeah, it's 12 DBs, but I think that the quality at that position is still, in relative terms, good. If there was a receiver on the wire that did returns, we probably would have considered that too. Again, it was as much a return issue and a special teams issue as it was a corner issue. But we have some age at corner now, too. Looking down the road, Otis [Smith], and Terrell [Buckley], Terrance Shaw, Ty [Law], not that he's old, but it's not his rookie year, either. Other than Leonard [Myers], that group is a fairly experienced group and a couple of them are getting up there. I'm talking about Terrell and Otis, you know, for corners… that's a position where if you're over 29 you're old at that spot.
Q: In the situation with the Saints-Jets game and Kyle Turley, how did you feel when you saw a player lose it like that?
BB: I thought that the first thing he did was the right thing. He went to the defense of his teammate, who was… well, I won't comment on [Damien] Robinson's play, okay, let's just leave it at that. But I thought he was right in going to the defense of his teammate, but then I don't think there's any question that he probably went too far. In the end, he hurt his team's chances of winning. I think there's a fine line between doing what you need to do to be supportive of your teammates and to, as I like to say, not get pushed around, but at the same time, getting personal fouls to do that is not really what you're looking for, particularly in a situation like that where it probably effected the outcome of the game. Maybe one guy's happy because he got a punch in or whatever, but you've got a lot of guys in New Orleans that probably aren't happy about losing that game. We had a personal foul in the Buffalo game last year, in the first game here. We had the ball on their one-yard line going in for a touchdown, and we got a personal foul on the one-yard line, moving it back to the 15. Anybody remember who that was on? [
**Q: Joe Andruzzi?] Joe Andruzzi is right. We've had a couple this year, where we've had guys two yards out of bounds two seconds after the play's over. You can't afford those kind of plays. I don't care how good the player feels about getting a hit back or getting even with somebody or whatever the thing is. As a football team, we can't afford to give away 15 yards.
Q: Do guys need to do some policing on the field, then?
BB: I think you've got to hold your ground and not get pushed around and I think there's a little bit, just like there is in all sports, there's a little bit of doing business as business is being done. In basketball, we've all seen games where three guys go to the floor and there's nothing and then you look at the next play and the guy breathes on him and they call a foul. You see the same thing in hockey. Sometimes, some of the biggest, most violent hits and it's nothing and then you get roughing penalties for the same thing. So you know, you've got to play the game as the game's being called. That's part of it, but then there's clearly crossing the line, and I don't think there's any doubt that in the New Orleans game that happened. I've talked to the players and we talk about that all the time, that type of thing. I'll tell you another example of it was in the basketball playoffs, with Milwaukee and Philadelphia. I think it was maybe the fourth game when Sam Cassell got the… you guys remember that? He was standing over there arguing with the official, that Italian official, what was his name? [
**Q: Salvatore?] That's right. Salvatore. He's standing over there arguing with Salvatore and, I don't know, I think Milwaukee's up by maybe 10 or 12 or whatever it is. He gets a technical foul, Philadelphia comes back and they beat them by one. He argued with him for about four minutes and he was determined to get the technical and he finally got it and his teammates went over and basically told him that he was out of line and he blew them off like, 'What are you yelling at me for?' It was one of those things where it was in Philadelphia, it turned the game around, turned the series around. However happy he was about yelling at the official, it really ended up costing them a chance at the NBA championship. I don't think that sits real well with the other guys that worked hard to get to that spot.
Q: Do you point out these examples to the players?
BB: You bet. We've seen the Sam Cassell tape, I can tell you that right now. We've seen that one.
Q: How did you get the point across to your team that they shouldn't take the Bills lightly?
BB: I think when you just look at the film and look at the game, you can see all you need to see from Buffalo. You see Clements, you see Winfield intercepting passes, you see Moulds, Peerless Price had whatever it was, 150 yards against San Diego. You see Clements returning punts for touchdowns. You see the defensive line putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. You've got [Phil] Hansen, you've got [Pat] Williams in there, I mean, nobody blocks Williams… that's going to be one of the biggest match-ups in the game, [Damien] Woody versus Williams. I'm sure both guys know it, but that's going to be a key match-up in the game. You see some young players, guys like Clements, guys like [Aaron] Schobel, guys like Henry. Guys that we didn't play against last year, all you've got to do is watch the tape to see how they're playing. Larry Centers, you don't need a scouting report on him, he's catching more passes than anybody. So there's plenty there. Rob Johnson, you know, watching him run around and make plays, I mean, he makes a ton of them.
Q: Do you look for signs on your team to see whether or not they are preparing the way that they have in other weeks?
BB: Well, you look for that every week. You look for that every week. What you want to see when you walk off the practice field is that your team's prepared for the situations based on the way that they've practiced them. It wouldn't make a difference who we're playing. In preseason, in training camp or anything, if that's not done, then either as the head coach or the assistant coaches, however you want to do it, one way or the other, then you need to address it with your team and make them aware of it and change it. If you just think you can let it go and then the switch will go on on Sunday, that usually doesn't work.
Q: From what you've seen, has anything stood out that makes them a 1-6 team rather than a 4-3 team?
BB: A couple of plays here and there. A couple of plays here and there. Turnovers. Overall, I think they've played pretty well in the kicking game, they had a long kickoff return against them in San Diego, which is, as we saw, a good kickoff return team. And that, which would have been a come-from-behind, great victory turned out to be a play that they ran the kickoff back to the 25-yard line and then, as we've all seen many times before, three or four guys close in on [Doug] Flutie, he ducks out of the pocket and then pulls one of those Houdini jobs where he's sacked for about an eight-yard loss and he comes out of there and runs it in for a touchdown and beats them. Two really good plays by San Diego and that game's a different story. They played the Colts hard last week, they got into trouble with a couple of turnovers, gave up a 35-yard bootleg play to [Peyton] Manning that I'm sure wasn't designed to gain more than about three yards, but it was just one of those things where it ended up being a lot more than that. It's been a play here, a play there.
Q: Is this the first time Johnson's started against you?
BB: No, Johnson started against us last year in Buffalo. Yeah, and then he went out about the middle of the second quarter, then Doug came in and we had to chase him around.
Q: You mentioned Larry Centers, how unusual is it for a team to have their fullback as their leading receiver?
BB: You know, it's real unusual unless it's Larry Centers. If you look at the teams that Larry Centers has been on, whether it's Arizona, Washington, or now in Buffalo, I bet he's been the leading receiver on all those teams. That guy's really a good football player. He's a real pro. He's tough, smart, he plays hard. He just knows how to play. He really knows how to play football. He does little subtle things that if you were teaching a young guy how to be a pro, how to play the position, just watch Larry Centers. That guy's really a good football player.
Q: Did you consider him when you were looking for fullbacks this past offseason?
BB: No, as I remember it… I'd have to check on that one. We liked [Marc] Edwards and Edwards was out there early. I think Larry came into the picture a little bit later, if I'm not mistaken. Look, I love Larry Centers and I have tremendous respect for him as a player, but I think when, looking again at the stage that we were in last year, we were trying to get as many of the five, six, seven year type of guys at the positions as we could. And when you get those guys in double digits, you know that it's going to be a year, two years and then you're going to be back on the market again. We really tried with guys like Edwards, [Mike] Vrabel, Matt Stevens, guys like that, we tried to get some people that we felt like were more in the middle of their prime years before we went for other guys. Not that there's anything wrong with Larry Centers. We've got some other veteran guys like that, Anthony Pleasant and guys like that who are great football players. But I think that the age was something that we tried to take into consideration on some of the early signings.