Before the Buffalo Bills took the field for the start of training camp, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott met with the media to discuss a variety of topics during a wide-ranging media session.
Here are some of the more interesting tidbits from the chat:
Candid about the McCoy situation: As expected, the topic that got the most traction with the coach and GM was the LeSean McCoy legal situation. With McCoy at training camp, it was a pretty obvious sign that the Bills felt confident that their star running back would be able to take the field. That was confirmed by a lot of what Beane and McDermott told the media.
When asked about McCoy’s “eligibility” by a member of the media, Beane had this to say:
“We don’t control that, but we have a good understanding that it’s a police investigation and until they complete that, and there’s no timeline with that, those things can be weeks, months, whatever, but we feel comfortable where it’s at. You’ll see LeSean here.”
McDermott, meanwhile, was confident that situation wouldn’t have a negative impact on the locker room or team chemistry.
“Really, I think part of being a coach is meeting players where they are and also knowing what they’re going through, whether it be LeSean’s situation or another one of our players,” McDermott said. “That’s my job to keep the pulse of the team and also know what’s going on in some of my players’ lives as best I can and sharing. I think we’ve done a good job of that to this point and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve got a strong group of leaders on this football team, many of whom you know already and I rely heavily on those guys to connect my message, keep the pulse of the team, communicate with me, and we’ll continue to do that moving forward.”
McCoy spoke to the media later in the day, but he wasn’t as forthcoming as McBeane. McCoy said that the situation was an “open investigation” when asked about it several times, and he certainly was not in a jovial mood. This is a topic that certainly isn’t going away and one that will have plenty more storylines and information as training camp rolls on.
Jones behind the curve: To say Zay Jones has had a tumultuous offseason would be a massive understatement. After his bizarre arrest, Jones needed offseason surgery and has been unable to do much physically this offseason. Earlier in the week, the Bills placed Jones on the non-football injury list, which is basically a formality, but also signals that Jones is still a few steps away from taking the field with his teammates.
McDermott was especially open with the media when talking about the former second round pick on Thursday.
“I think he’s behind and that’s a tough deal that he’s gone through and, that said, Zay’s a guy [who is] a positive young man and has tremendous mental toughness. Our trainers and Zay have worked extremely hard to get him to where he is today and then he’ll continue to work hard as we move forward., obviously, not being with the team on the field as we go through practices, but going through his rehab, so on and so forth.”
While McDermott said nothing earth-shattering here, it’s definitely noteworthy in the way he phrased Jones’s status. Beane added that Jones is “chomping at the bit” to get back on the field, but that the team and the trainers are being cautious with Jones and his knee after the surgery.
“We’re probably holding him back more than he’s holding himself back,” Beane said. “We’ve tried to be patient. With those things, the last thing you want is to have a setback right now, not that you couldn’t, but we’re just trying to be smart and get him there. He’s getting a lot of mental work and he stayed here the whole summer. Most of these guys got a vacation — Zay’s vacation was rehabbing, which is not easy. He’s in a good frame of mind, I think, and super positive despite the setback of having to have that procedure.”
Jones is still allowed to participate in certain activities with the Bills while on the NFI list, but how quickly he can get back into the pads will go a long way in determining if he can rebound from his rough rookie season.
The quarterback position: Above all else, this offseason will be defined by which of the three quarterbacks steps up and takes the reigns on the position. The Bills certainly seem ready to give each of the three guys a fair shot to win the job, but both McDermott and Beane would be thrilled if their seventh overall selection can impress and leave no doubt about who’s the best man for the starting role.
That said, McDermott was asked when he would like to have a starter in place. Here was his answer:
“Every situation’s different,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a perfect way out there and a perfect set date and time to name a starter. No different than a lot of positions. I get the quarterback position’s a little bit different in some ways. We’re in the middle of a competition here and we’ll see how it goes. We’re going to gather as much information as we can from what goes on on the grass and what goes on off the field. We’ll move forward when we feel the time is right. That said, I understand where you’re coming from and I mean, it would be nice to get a pretty good feel early on. We’ll take it one day at a time at this stage.”
McDermott is smart to play it so tightly to the vest here, mostly because the second-year head coach doesn’t want to be boxed into a corner should something unforeseen happen during camp over the next couple of weeks.