Coach Sparano's Thursday Update


Opening Statement: **"Tarell Brown did not practice today with a foot; Vincent Brown did not practice today with a groin; Derek Carr was full today; TJ Carrie was limited today with an ankle; Chimdi Chekwa did not practice today with a hamstring; [Brian] Leonhardt did not practice today; Denarius Moore did not practice with a knee and an ankle; Menelik [Watson] did not practice with a foot and an ankle; CJ Wilson was limited today with a knee; and DJ Hayden was limited today with a back."

Q: Is Tarell Brown about where he was last week heading into the game?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah."

Q: What is Denarius Moore's status?

Coach Sparano:"It's about the same as it was."

Q: What kind of shape was the field in today?

Coach Sparano:"It was in good shape, not ideal shape, but it was in good shape and obviously have taken a lot of rain out there, but it was good to get back out on the grass. Good for the players to get back out on that surface. It was fine, held up good."

Q: What kind of challenge does C.J. Spiller present now that he is back on the Bills' active roster?

Coach Sparano:"My experiences with C.J., obviously it presents a number of challenges in the way that they can use him and the way that they can kind of get him involved in some of the pass stuff. This guy is an explosive, explosive player, but really when he gets the ball in his hands out there in space can be a problem. I don't like comparing players, but like the guy in Kansas City type guy. This guy has had some big games in this league and he's had me up for a long time at night a lot of times, so he's a talented player."

Q: With your return coverage units, do you change things around or just try to get them to do things better?

Coach Sparano:"No, I mean we always game plan, you game plan against what they're doing too because they're going to approach it a little bit differently than Kansas City approached you or that anybody else, that San Francisco approached us. I mean, they kind of have some things that they do and we have to attack some of those things and I think that the key is to find also who the dominant special teams players are, not different from they probably look at us and say who are their best guys? Where can we double team? Where should we not double team? We have to understand some of those things too, so we'll plan that way. Obviously getting them to do it better is going to be critical for us because we can't allow what happened last week to happen in this game. We've made that challenge to our special teams unit, no question about that, but that can't happen. We can't come out of the game and say we had 160-something yards worth of – that's not going to work out too good for us, so we have to change that."

Q: Khalil Mack seems to pick up the game so quickly for a player his age. What is important for you as a coach when you have a player on that kind of trajectory or curve? How do you coach him to the next phase?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I think with Khalil the challenges keep coming in in the type of players that he plays against. First of all, the type of things that he starts to see more and more. All of a sudden he's getting two bodies to him, one way or another, whether it's tight end, tackle, whether it's a back over there, whether they turn to protection and shoot two backs at him off the edge, those type of things. Some of the challenges that we've had are to be able to move Khalil around a little bit and to put him in different spots at times so that he doesn't show up in the same spot and they have to chase him a little bit. I think it becomes easier when he's just in one spot and you know where he is and you can get the help to that side. That challenge takes on something different for Khalil in that he has to learn a little bit more that way, playing in some different spots in some different packages and he's been able to handle that really, really well. That part of his growth has been really good, particularly here late as we get going here towards the end of the season. This guy has been getting better and better each week."

Q: Do you believe in a rookie wall in general?

Coach Sparano:"I do. I mean I think that guys can hit that wall. I think it happens a little bit sooner and then I think that they get over the hump. It doesn't seem to happen with him, right now. He's been really steady and has gotten progressively better each week. Again, I mentioned this in here, but if anyone went back to the last three or four plays of the game last week, in that game, I mean, it was like he just started the game. That was play, 59, 60 and 61, I believe, or 61, 62 and 63 and this guy made three plays in a row that were outstanding, at the end of the game like that. That's a guy who hasn't hit the wall. He's got a lot of gas left in his tank right now and it's been good to watch."

Q: What does that mean for the future when you think of him?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I think sometimes when you get some of these younger players, your question is always are they built to last? Can they handle what happens week in and week out in this league? Some guys are built to last and some guys are built for the short term and I think this guy is a guy that is built to last. He takes care of his body, he goes a million miles an hour. He only knows how to practice one way and that's the way that he plays the game. Usually those type of players end up being pretty successful in this league. I think this guy has nothing but – and will continue to have, upside here. He certainly hasn't reached where he needs to be right now, but he's going to get better and better and better and this experience has helped him tremendously."

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