Coach Tom Coughlin**
Coach Coughlin: We're excited about beginning our preparation for a very good Buffalo Bills teams, a team that is 2-1. In the two games that they've won, they were plus-three. They're overall plus-five. They have an outstanding array of talent, both defensively and offensively. They're the number one rushing team in the NFL, they're the number one rush defense in the NFL. They're a very good defensive football team, multiple personnel, multiple challenges in pass protection. A lot of different looks to try and create the one-on-one situations for their outstanding pass rushers. Offensively, they have multi-talents at wide receivers, the running backs. You saw the young running back the other night rush for a long touchdown run and averages 7.8 per carry. The tight end had a big day the other day, as well, he's an outstanding player. So we have a lot of things to defend, a lot of things to prepare for from the running game. They have two outstanding returners in Percy Harvin and Thigpen, the punt returner. They both have multiple returns for scores in their careers in the National Football League. Buffalo, again, an outstanding team. You know the story against New England. New England jumped out to a big lead, they came roaring back, the final score was 40-32. The ball was on the minus-20 yard line with 1:15 to go, a one score difference in the ball game. They threw an interception down the middle of the field. Tyrod Taylor, the outstanding quarterback, is also a running threat. He has seven touchdown passes, he has a 74 percent completion percentage at this point in time, and does an outstanding job with the deep ball. A lot of play-action, a lot of movement, a lot of bootleg, a lot of great perimeter—so he is a force to have to defend as well.
Q: Are they pretty much a Rex Ryan football team?
A: Yes, yes they are, for sure. Great defense, rush the passer, have the running attack. I don't know who else you would attribute it to. The head coach is the head coach.
Q: With regard to your team with the injury report—Ayers, Cruz, are they going to work?
Q: Both those guys will work today?
Q: Rodgers-Cromartie is on there, is he cleared?
A: He's cleared to play.
Q: How about Ereck Flowers?
A: He's going to practice.
A: Owa practices.
Q: Anybody not practicing, that might be easier?
A: On the list that's not practicing, Fells is not going to practice with the ankle. Cunningham's not going to practice.
Q: This has become such a passing league. Rex has always been a ground and pound type of coach, seemed to be with the Jets and seems to be now. Is there any diminished importance to the running game because of the way this league has turned?
A: No, not with teams such as this who do have an outstanding run-oriented offensive line, good size, knock you back kind of a personality, and actually three runners that can perform on a very high level. The receiving corps with the speed, whether it's Harvin or whether it's Watkins on the outside, however they go about their business with the tight end in the middle of the field. They're going to show you play-action, they're going to run the football. The other day I thought was a perfect example of their team in their win over Miami. They threw the ball 19 times and had something like 14 or 15 completions, and rushed the football very well with actually all three runners.
Q: You have three runners too obviously. Assuming that the production overall hasn't been exactly what you wanted so far, what do you think has been the issue and what is the key to getting them going?
A: We're working hard to block the run and to block the run consistently, sometimes it's not as well defined as you'd like it to be. Quite frankly, we had two balls that should have come out a week ago. You've got to step through some arms or run through some arms on occasion as well. I think it's a combination of things.
Q: Defensively, you guys have done a great job against the run, but the yardage against the pass is kind of staggering when you look at it. With the flip side to those two extremes, is there anything you guys can do scheme wise, personnel wise in order--?
A: In games where clearly you have to stop the run, I think that's where it all starts. As you say, you have to quickly flip over if it's not going to be a run, play-action type of game. If it is going to turn into the drop back, two-minute style game, we're going to have to adjust to that as well. But we continue to work on these types of things—being a little bit tighter in coverage, for example, doing a better job of recognition underneath, our roles, having our disguise package continue to improve, all those types of things.
Q: Rex said that there's a chance that LeSean McCoy won't play because of the injury he's dealing with. How much does it change it for you with Williams as their primary back?
A: It won't change. You know the different styles of the two runners; obviously, they're a little bit different. We know LeSean very well, and he's an excellent runner, always had significant days against us. But Williams is a powerful guy, a bigger guy, a slam it up in there, north and south guy. He has the speed to get outside, he's 4.48. Got to defend it all.
Q: The mass and the strength of their defensive line, what kind of a challenge is that? Maybe Flowers plays, what kind of challenge will that be?
A: Well, it's a significant challenge because you've got a team who's led the NFL in sacks for two years in a row. And they've also worked very hard, and they are the number one defense against the run. So they're good, they're physical, they've got good size, they can rush the passer, they can defend the run, the linebacking corps has done an outstanding job. The middle backer had two interceptions the other day, one for a touchdown, that's a pretty good day's work.
Q: If Fells can't play, what's your sense of using an offensive lineman as a tight end?
A: Yeah, we've prepared that way before. I still think Fells will make it.
Q: Is your plan with Cruz this week to just push him as far as he can go or do you have to throw him in full today?
A: No, he won't be full. He'll be gradually, his workload will improve gradually. He'll have X amount of workload today, it'll be increased for tomorrow. We'll see where we are.
Q: Because he's been out for so long, does he almost have to be on some sort of snap count for Sunday if he's able to go?
A: I won't answer that question until we get a little deeper. Let's see him practice.
Q: You really haven't faced a quarterback like this this year. How important is discipline against a guy like this?
A: Very much so, very much so. It's always the way it has to be, not only in the rushing the passer so he doesn't get out and get on the perimeter, but also because they do run a couple, three different ways of the zone-read. They do run the option, they do run the option with a pitch man, so he's got it all.
Q: What kind of benefit can Owa bring you if he's able to get back this week?
A: Another powerful kid that can rush the passer.
Q: Is that the role you sort of envision for him early in his rookie year, mostly rushing the passer?
A: No, not really. Nope. I saw him just as we described when we drafted him. Big, strong kid, can play left or right, is big enough to play on the left side and did have the physical ability to rush the passer.
Q: Do you see anything different with Eli Manning? He has yet to throw an interception this season.
A: You're the one who's going to start that stuff, huh? Do I see anything different? Yeah, I see a guy working hard to take care of the ball. Priority.
Q: You had Hakeem Nicks here yesterday and Wes Welker, what was the thinking behind that?
A: This is the time of the year to evaluate, to keep your lists in order, to know how you would go if you need it. It's pretty much standard to try and work whatever group you possibly can, at least on a weekly basis at this time of the year. There's nothing unusual in that.
QB Eli Manning**
Q: What do you see from the Bills on tape?
A: They're good. They're talented on defense, they've got good players, they've got a good scheme, they've done a good job. I guess the Patriots had a good game plan against them, made some plays, did some good things, but they still got pressure on Tom. But versus Indianapolis and versus Miami, they got after them pretty good. We've got to be sharp up front and on all their different looks and their players. We've got to do a good job on third down and take care of the football, can't turn the ball over against them.
Q: What did you see from Victor Cruz today and his hopes of playing this weekend?
A: Did some individual stuff, ran a few routes and that was about it. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Coming off a win, can you build some momentum going into this ball game?
A: Yeah, we've got to keep playing good football. Each game we did some good things, we did things better and better. So we've got to keep playing smart football, keep protecting the football, we've got to score some touchdowns in the red zone and find ways to win games in fourth quarter.
Q: I know you guys were very excited to have Victor Cruz back today and he wasn't able to be on the field during the regular practice. Was that a little deflating?
A: No, we're going about our business. We've got guys who've been playing and who've been practicing. We've got a job to do and I think guys are focused on understanding the game plan, the plays, the different things we may be getting to and what we're trying to do and just going about our job trying to get ready to play well against the Bills.
Q: As an offense, what is the main thing you have to do against a very talented Bills defense?
A: I think just protect the football. In their wins they've done a good job getting turnovers; even versus the Patriots they caused two turnovers. I think they've got eight on the year. We've got to make sure runners are protecting the football and don't give the opportunity of short field position and give them momentum.
Q: Not that you lost confidence but how much confidence do you have now after the first win of the season?
A: Well, it's always nice to get the first win, no doubt. We've just got to look at the last game and figure out what we did differently to get the win. Still got room for improvement so we've got to keep working, keep grinding and find a way to win some more games.
Q: With everything going on in the division, do you keep track of that? And how much did that win mean to you?
A: I think you always keep track of your division to see where you stand, what's happening. Obviously there's still a lot of football left, long season left. I think the most important thing is we focus on what we have to do to win more football games. It's the only thing we can control and it starts right now in our preparation to get ready for the Bills.
Q: Your thoughts about facing Rex Ryan?
A: I don't face him directly, but he's always got great defenses and multiple looks and alignments. So it's always a big week of preparation just trying to get prepared for his defenses because they've always been good.
Offensive Lineman Justin Pugh
Re: Buffalo's defense
A: It's early in the season, so they've gotten up in some games, people have been throwing the ball against them. They have a real good front, that's a good defense. We're definitely up for the challenge this week, it's going to be a good game.
Q: Is it they're just big or strong?
A: Big, strong, they work well together, they've played together a while. The two guys on the right side have been in the league for 10 years, they know a thing or two. I think two guys on the D-Line are 100 million dollar guys, so they're expected to play well, and they have played well.
Q: As you said, some teams kind of build their team and spend money certain ways. They clearly have done it this way. Is that extra motivation that you know this is the centerpiece of what they do?
A: Every week you have to highlight who their best guys are on defense. Every single guy on that defensive starting front would be the best player on another line, you know what I mean? You have Pro Bowlers all the way across the board, so we've got to go out there and it's going to be a great competition for us. You've got to go and look back on what teams did that were successful against them and try to do some of those things.
Q: Obviously the Patriots were successful.
A: Yeah. Getting the ball out quick, that really neutralizes the rusher. You can't sack a quarterback or get to him if he's getting the ball out very quick. So we've just got to make sure we're putting ourselves in the right position and having a chance to put ourselves in a successful situation.
Q: Speaking of right position, where will you be?
A: I'll be wherever they need to be. I can't even tell you guys where I'm going to be, it really depends on how it is with health, how everyone's feeling. I'm going to go out there and play wherever I need to be put.
Q: The key is Ereck Flowers, right? He's the fulcrum to where you're going to play right?
A: Yeah. I mean, definitely. We're hoping he's good enough to go, and I think he'll be good. He's ready to get back in action, and he wants to get that first win under his belt, too. It's going to be fun to get out there and keep growing on the offensive line and get him a win.
Q: What kind of challenges did you see from some of these Bills guys as pass rushers?
A: They're good players. All of them have got real good motors and they know the scheme they're in, they play it well. So we've got to go out there and compete and battle our asses off and give Eli time to get the ball to our playmakers.
Q: Left tackle has to deal with who, Mario Williams?
A: No, Mario Williams is on the other side. Hughes will be there. They run a lot of exotic looks on third down, everyone knows Rex Ryan likes getting those exotic looks. So we've got to make sure we're communicating and we're all on the same page up front, and that will lead to success for us.
Q: Because of Rex's schemes, does that make this game more mental than physical maybe more than any other game you'll play?
A: I think it's going to be one of the most mental games you play throughout the year. We're putting in extra time to make sure that we're ready to go. We've got to get that second win, get us to 2-2, get us right back into the thick of things. This is a huge game for us, we've got to make sure that we're putting everything we have into this and go out there and get a win on Sunday.
Q: What was it like to see Victor Cruz back out there for practice?
A: It was great. He's one of our leaders, he's one of the guys that we're going to count on Sunday to make plays for us. It's definitely a good thing. We know that if we can block them up and we get the ball into his hands, 13's hands, 82, one of our running backs, they're going to make plays. They're going to make guys miss and that's the whole objective going into Sunday.
Q: Did you see Cruz leave though midway through? It looks like a reoccurrence of the calf issue.
A: Oh, he did? I did not see that, so I have no idea.
CB Prince Amukamara**
Q: Do you feel for your teammate Victor Cruz who had a little bit of a setback today?
A: Yeah, I know Victor is very anxious. I've seen him in the training room and on the field just working hard trying to get back out there. Anytime you have a little mishap, for me it just plays with the mind, but Victor is very strong mentally and like I told him, it's a long season, just forget the pressure. You know when you're injured and much is expected out of you, there's a lot of pressure on you, and I just told him to forget about that it's a long season and to keep his head up.
Q: Do you feel like a guy like that [Cruz] is going to do everything he can to get back out there?
A: Yeah, no question. Victor is a leader for this team on and off the field. He does all the right things; like I said he was in the training room doing everything he can. On Thursday when everybody had a break who didn't have treatment, he's back here, and he was here all offseason. I got to see his journey and him getting back, so I just understand how frustrating it can be.
Q: How big is this game this weekend?
A: I think every game every week is huge but I think it'll be great to see how our team responds after the win we got on Thursday.
Q: How much of a letdown was it to see what Victor has been through and then to see him leave early like that? How much of a letdown was that to you?
A: I wouldn't call it a letdown. We were expecting him to play but it's just one of things that if it's not right, then it's right. I don't know the extent of the injury, I know it's not surgery or nothing, but I just keep telling him and telling myself like it's a long season. We know when we get him back there's going to be great things to see.
Q: What is the key to containing this Buffalo offense?
A: Just being smart and disciplined. Anytime you have a quarterback that can run and pass, if you're supposed to be outside be outside, if you're supposed to be inside be inside, and just don't let them get the running game going. Once they get the running game going they can play action us, boot us, and then we'll have a big problem.
Q: The win against Washington and what's going on in the division. Does that give you guys a lot of confidence like hey we're right there?
A: We know that we're still the controllers of our own destiny and right now we're really worried about ourselves. We do have an eye out on the division and we are aware of what's going on. Right now we're just worried about ourselves and just worried about Buffalo now.
WR Rueben Randle
Q: Little bit of sense of rallying again for you guys at receiver?
A: Yeah, I'm getting pretty used to it now. I think we all will be prepared for it. We work pretty hard together, had a pretty good practice, made a lot of plays. Once you get that confidence in Eli, getting to those checks he'll get into during the game and make some plays, I think everything will be okay.
Q: When you look at what the Patriots did against the Bills, can you do the same kind of stuff?
A: Yeah. We're going to try to do that. Spread them out a little bit. Try to get the ball out of there quick so they can't get as much pressure on Eli as they're going to. It's going to be upon us to make some plays, especially outside the catch.
Q: Everybody seemed pretty excited about the potential of Victor's return, how much does the air blow out of the balloon—I know you have a job to do and it doesn't matter in that regard, but how much does it feel to see him come off the field?
A: It sucks, to say the least. We don't have much time to dwell on it. We've got to prepare for Sunday. Our focus is trying to do well on the field. We tried to get with him now, I haven't talked to him since to see how he feels. Just wish him the best.
Q: Were you looking forward to you, Victor and Odell on the field?
A: Yeah. We were hoping this would be the week, but like I said, there will be a day when he comes back when he's ready. We're not trying to rush him back or anything like that. I think we have enough talent now while he's out.
Q: Still up to other guys to step up as they have throughout, right?
A: Yeah. Like I said, I think we're all pretty comfortable with the situation at hand and we have enough talent in this room to make some plays and that's what we're going to do.
Q: How good does it make you feel to make those plays to help your team last week to get the first win of the season?
A: It felt pretty good. Always just want to feel part of the team, just make some plays and help us lead to a victory. That's what I want to do.