Inside The Bills

Pettine’s defense puts premium on versatility

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 29, 2013 – 8:20 pm

The Bills pulled off a rare player-for-player trade Monday, sending third year LB Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts in exchange for fourth year LB Jerry Hughes.

And while both the Bills and Colts are willing to part with young defensive talent, the trade seems to be more a product of finding a right fit for the defense. At least that’s what Bills GM Buddy Nix said, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show.

Nix was asked if Sheppard was not a good fit in the new defensive scheme being installed by Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine.

“I think that’s part of it,” he said. “Kelvin is a true middle linebacker–a guy that’s going to play from C-gap to C-gap and he can do that downhill.”

“But Mike Pettine made this statement during the draft,” Nix told host John Murphy. “The days of the Mike linebacker and the strong safety have just about fallen by the wayside. Everything has moved over. You’ve taken the Mike now, and he’s moved over. You’ve moved Will to Mike. And now you walk up Bryan Scott as a nickel linebacker, and he’s now the Will. Those guys got to be able to run and cover.”

Nix says the Bills have stressed versatility in the linebacker moves they’ve made in recent months.

“We got Moats there in the middle-he can play two spots. We got Kiko Alonso in there–he can play two spots. Nigel Bradham can play Will or Mike. That is what we’re coming to.”

The entire interview with Bills GM Buddy Nix is available at Buffalobills.com\johnmurphyshow


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Hughes trade another versatility move

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2013 – 5:07 pm

The Bills acquisition of DE/OLB Jerry Hughes from the Colts follows the trail of examples of the demand for player versatility and speed.

Hughes had 4.65 speed coming out of TCU and without a lot of miles on his tires playing behind Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, Hughes figures to still be that fast. But his ability to play strong side LB and a rush end, including some subpackage rush looks is what made him the kind of versatile fit defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and head coach Doug Marrone are looking for.

“Versatility is something we’re looking for and we’d like our linebackers to at least be able to play both outside spots and we’d like our middle backer to have the ability to play WILL or MIKE so that was enticing about Jerry,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix.

 


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Nix initally surprised by slow go at QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2013 – 7:59 am

Bills GM Buddy Nix said he’s rarely nervous and rarely is he shocked, but the way the 2013 NFL draft was playing out at the quarterback position was downright stunning.

After two days just three quarterbacks had come off the board in Buffalo’s own EJ Manuel, Geno Smith and Mike Glennon.

“Really at first it kind of shocked me a little bit, but when you think about it people were worried about this quarterback class,” said Nix. “The hype or the lack of got people concerned and they went out and tried to give themselves some insurance bringing in a veteran quarterback and it kept it from being a priority in the firsts few picks. And once that got started and they started hanging on and staying out there people were worried about there being something that they didn’t know. I think those things happen. They slide a lot of times and you think, ‘Well if this guy is still there, then there’s something about them that I don’t know.’”

In total just 11 quarterbacks were drafted. It was the fourth-lowest total among position groups in this year’s draft to only center (5), fullbacks (3) and kickers (2) and punters (2).

Ironically, the Bills were strongly considering taking a second quarterback after Manuel had already been drafted.

“Very seriously we did (consider it),” said Nix.


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Bills intend to add undrafted QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 27, 2013 – 7:36 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix got the long term answer at quarterback for the future in first-round pick EJ Manuel, but Buffalo plans to add still another quarterback to the mix as they begin their recruiting of undrafted rookie free agents.

“We’ll try to get another one in free agency,” said Nix.

With the 2013 NFL draft concluded, three quarterbacks that made pre-draft visits to Buffalo went undrafted. Arizona’s Matt Scott, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray and Washington State’s Jeff Tuel all visited One Bills Drive earlier this month.

Buffalo also put Bray through a private workout. Seeing the clear focus on adding team speed and versatility Scott might prove to be the more coveted quarterback prospect as he offers the most athleticism of the aforementioned signal callers. But there will also be stiff competition from the other 31 NFL clubs to land any one of them.

“It will be competitive, it always is,” said Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon, who takes part in the recruitment of undrafted rookie free agents. “If you look back historically some of the successes we’ve had with some of the undrafted free agents and it comes down to recruiting and situations within your roster structure and opportunity. We’ll be very competitive.

“If you look at the statistics even just last year, the percentage of undrafted rookies that make rosters and practice squads, it’s significant.”

Nix admitted that there were a couple of times on day two and three of the draft that they considered taking another quarterback.

“Very seriously,” said Nix.

 


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What Bills want in a QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2013 – 8:18 pm

The Bills are expected to take a quarterback in this draft, presumably early. Here’s what Buddy Nix described in terms of what they want in a quarterback prospect.

“Obviously you want size in a quarterback, a guy that’s intelligent, got enough arm and accuracy,” said Nix. “But the things about a quarterback are the intangibles that you have to try to find out and that’s leadership and how he does under pressure and how quick he can make decisions.”

Buffalo’s scouting staff has conducted their most extensive and exhaustive scouting of the QB prospects in recent memory to make sure they get this right.


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Bills goal is to land 3 starters

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2013 – 8:14 pm

The Bills have specific goals for the 2013 NFL draft. Armed with just six picks GM Buddy Nix and company are not making excuses. They want to add quality talent to their roster and be very successful in their choices in the first three rounds.

“We would like to get six good players, and three starters in the first three picks,” said Nix. “That’s a goal that you set that might be a little unrealistic at times, but that’s what you shoot for.”

 

 


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Why trading back so attractive this year

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2013 – 4:14 pm

Trading back is a viable option for the Bills with the eighth overall pick. Bills GM Buddy Nix explains why.

In an interview with Buffalobills.com Nix said trading back is attractive for a lot of teams because there’s some quality value between rounds two and four.

“I think that it’s the way they value the players that are there,” said Nix. “I think everybody thinks the middle part of the draft is going to be deeper or deep enough to get a good player. So if you can get another pick it helps your team.”

Nix has made it clear that he’d love to acquire an additional pick if the offer is right and their destination on the board isn’t too far from their original pick at 8.


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Dansby update

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2013 – 12:37 pm

A couple of days ago the Bills hosted free agent LB Karlos Dansby for a visit at One Bills Drive. Bills GM Buddy Nix provided an update after the visit concluded without a contract signing.

“He had a good visit,” Nix told Buffalobills.com. “We liked him. It’s still ongoing. It’s not dead, but it’s not done either.”

Dansby would add a veteran presence to what is largely a young linebacking corps for the Bills. A 10-year vet, Dansby is coming off a career season in which he led the Dolphins with a career-high 134 tackles.


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Mort: Bills pick at 8 attracting attention

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2013 – 10:10 am

ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Bills pick at eight overall in tonight’s NFL draft is attracting a lot of attention. It’s sounding like the Bills may have some options to move out of their pick at eight if they get a trade offer they like.

Bills GM Buddy Nix told us last week that they’re open for business when it comes to the potential options of moving back in the draft. If there aren’t any quarterbacks off the board when the Bills are on the clock at eight and a good offer is presented to them it would not surprise me at all if Buffalo moved out of the eighth spot.


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Marrone’s role in draft room

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2013 – 5:24 pm

Appearing in an interview tonight on the Bills Draft Special on WKBW-TV Channel 7 presented by New Era at 7 pm, Doug Marrone outlined what his role will be in the draft room on draft day.

Marrone first explained his measure of experience in NFL draft rooms knowing it’s his first NFL draft as a head coach.

“My last job in the NFL (OC in New Orleans) I was in the draft meetings so you know what’s going on and you know you’re looking at the board and phone calls are coming in and there are different options going on,” Marrone said. “I’m there to support whatever views we’ve had as a coaching staff if asked. I’m looking forward to being in that draft room with Buddy and Doug and the scouts.”

Marrone then said he’ll essentially serve as a sounding board for Buddy Nix and Doug Whaley if called upon over the next three days.

“I think what happens is as we go on and there may be two players out there that may be looking close to the same,” said Marrone. “And sometimes the coach might be asked here are these two players and we think they’re largely the same, which one would you like? When those things come in you’re able to voice an opinion. You’re there to have an opinion, but not a dictatorship. I’m there to support and do whatever I can to help the scouts and Buddy and Doug with whatever their decisions may be.”

To see the whole interview tune in to Channel 7 tonight at 7 pm.


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Draft smoke screens big right now

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2013 – 4:58 pm

Tis the season for lying through your teeth if you’re an NFL GM with the 2013 NFL draft upon us. Bills GM Buddy Nix laid out the timetable where being misleading is completely acceptable.

In an interview on the Bills Draft Special, which will air tonight at 7 pm on WKBW-TV Channel 7, Nix explains that at this point in time NFL GMs and scouts have full license to fabricate their intentions to protect their real plans for the draft from other NFL clubs.

“There are a lot of smokescreens being thrown up by a lot of teams and it’s like I’ve said before, lying the month before the draft is not a sin,” said Nix. “You can get by with it and everybody does it so you better not read too much into connecting the dots.”

To see the whole interview watch the Bills Draft Special presented by New Era on WKBW-TV Channel 7.


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Nix: Even more QB homework has been done

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2013 – 4:39 pm

It’s the eve of the 2013 NFL draft, but the Bills scouting department has done perhaps their most extensive work ever on quarterback prospects. Bills GM Buddy Nix, who will appear on tonight’s Bills Draft Special on WKBW-TV Channel 7 at 7 pm, admitted they’ve done extra work in this scouting process.

“I’ve been through this thing three times where we went around and we spent time with every guy, more than normal because the position is so hard to evaluate and the intangibles are so important,” said Nix. “We’ve done our homework, we feel good about these guys and we try to keep all the outside propaganda and the mock drafts and all that stuff, we try to keep it out of our mind and not be exposed to too much of that. It’s been fun and enlightening and there are some good quarterbacks in this class.”

To see the whole interview with Nix be sure to watch the Bills Draft Special presented by New Era tonight at 7 pm on WKBW Channel 7.


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Remembering draft room hierarchy

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2013 – 2:00 pm

Though Mr. Wilson ultimately has the final call, Buffalo’s founder and owner has left GM Buddy Nix in charge of the team’s personnel decisions, which includes those in the Bills draft room. And it’s pretty clear how the draft room hierarchy works. While opinions are sought and consensus is the goal Nix is the triggerman.

When asked how much the preferences or wants of coaches factor in to player selection decisions during the draft, Nix was pretty straightforward in explaining how things work.

“They may know exactly how to do it, but what they do is how we do it,” said Nix of the coaches. “We don’t ask them about procedure with the draft. We know how we want to do that and we know it works. With Mike (Pettine) and the (defensive) staff that was with the Jets, those guys have been in the draft room so they kind of know what to expect. Our way is a bit different in that everybody gets to voice their opinion. It’s not who gets to talk the loudest and the longest. It’s give your opinion, you’ve done your job. We’ll decide where he goes.”

Knowing Nix and his scouting staff determine the grading of prospects on the board is important. It likely means that no matter how much the Bills offensive staff may like Ryan Nassib as a quarterback prospect it’s the grade given to him by the scouting department that will ultimately determine when and where he’ll be a consideration in the draft.


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Keeping prospects fresh in their mind

Posted by Chris Brown on April 23, 2013 – 8:23 am

After all the work that’s been put in by Buffalo’s scouting staff over hundreds of potential prospects, some players can run together and vividly remembering all of an individual’s best qualities and drawbacks can sometimes prove difficult. Here’s what Bills GM Buddy Nix and his staff do in the final days prior to the draft to address that.

“At each position at the end of the day there’s a highlighted list of five, six or seven players at that position that we’ll look at,” said Nix. “So we’ll spend, if we get through Monday or Tuesday, we’ll spend the next 48 hours going back so they’re fresh in your mind. It takes a while for all this stuff to come together  to you, but it always does and the picture gets pretty clear by the end.”

 


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Nix: no debating importance of QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 22, 2013 – 2:50 pm

nix-qbs-cps

Bills GM Buddy Nix appeared on ESPN radio over the weekend with NFL reporter John Clayton, who asked him several questions about the quarterback draft class. One of the most interesting answers from Nix was on the importance of the quarterback position now in a league where the passing percentages continue to climb.

If you look at the teams that really need quarterbacks, they’re all drafting high,” said Nix. “The teams that don’t need quarterbacks, they’re drafting down the line, meaning they’ve won games. I think it’s probably more important than it’s ever been. It comes down to teams that have good quarterback play every year win every year.”

Knowing the Bills have been seeking a long term answer at quarterback for some time now, Nix’s statement indicates how critical it is for Buffalo and the other clubs at the top of the draft board to land a signal caller that moves them into the upper echelon of teams.


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Fan Friday 4-19

Posted by Chris Brown on April 19, 2013 – 2:05 pm

Alright Bills fans this is the last Fan Friday before the NFL draft. The “hay is in the barn” as the scouts say, just got to wait and see how the board falls next week. Be sure to check out my 8th annual mock draft next Wednesday. It’ll be entertaining. Here now are your latest questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - dcap22803 Apr 17, 11:27am

@ChrisBrownBills Would #bills be willing to trade down with #falcons and take Nassib at 30

CB: It’s my contention that the Bills would be very interested in trading down. As I covered in my story this week, after asking GM Buddy Nix about trading down, there could be some players for the eighth overall pick if prospects like Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson or West Virginia WR Tavon Austin are both still on the board.

I don’t get the sense that they like the value there at eight for positions they’d like to address early (QB, WR) so I believe if they can move back to an area where they like the value better (late teens or 20’s) and add a draft choice they would do it.

2 – JackJablonski Apr 16, 1:04pm

@ChrisBrownBills Williams to Safety. Does this open up the possibility of CB at pick 8? Dee Milliner, if he falls, or Xavier Rhodes??

CB: I think with Aaron Williams moving to safety it raises the level of importance for addressing cornerback in the draft. Outside of Stephon Gilmore the Bills lack size at corner, so a tough, physical corner is needed out there. If Milliner falls to eight I wouldn’t rule out him being a consideration. At the same time I believe moving back and adding another draft choice could trump it.

But with Williams moving to safety I believe it has made adding a cornerback a necessity at some point in this draft.

3 – Chris,
With our needs at SS, ILB, OLB, WR and QB most likely to be addressed thru the draft, I find it really strange that there has been very little noise about bringing in some quality free agent guards for visits.  It seems like a glaring hole (let’s not forget Rinehart is gone as well).  Have you heard anything on Mr. Nix’s plans for this position?  I would like to see our RBs continue to run hard and whoever are QB may end up being it would be nice for him to be in one piece after a few games.

Go Bills!
Kirk

CB: I’ll give you Mr. Nix’s exact thoughts about the team’s status at the guard spot. Here is a direct quote from the draft luncheon when he was asked if losing Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart in free agency had altered their approach in the draft at all?

“Not at all,” said Nix. “Not at all, now having said that I know people have said we’re taking one of those top two guards. Our roster in house is better than I think we get credit for especially offensive line. We’re pretty deep there. We’ve got six guards and we think a couple of them can play. Now having said all that before you write that we’re not going to take a guard at number eight, it’s hard to pass up two players like the old boy at Alabama (Chance Warmack) and the kid at North Carolina (Jonathan Cooper). Both of those are great players so you have to give that a lot of thought when they come up.”

When asked as a follow up if he had enough confidence in the six guards on the roster to the point where if they did not draft a guard would he be fine, he said he would be.

To be clear the players they believe offer them ability at guard are starter Kraig Urbik and Colin Brown and Sam Young. Brown and Young rotated in with the starting unit at left guard. If there are no other additions at the position those two are likely to battle it out for the starting role.

Zebrie Sanders, who Doug Marrone views as a tackle first and guard second, could potentially be a part of that competition down the road when he’s healthy.

4 –  Chris,
So I’ve been hearing that Tyler Bray has some of the best upside in the QB class I was wondering what you thought of him and if you think he’s worthy of our second pick. Also if you think that going after Patterson in the first round, Bray in the 2nd or 3rd to have some instantaneous chemistry on offense would be a good idea. Or do you see a prospect at QB worth it at eight and maybe go after the other Tennessee kid, Hunter in the second? I’d live to get some feedback on these thoughts.

Thanks, Will
GO BILLS!!

CB: There’s no debating that Bray can throw the heck out of the ball. He is the only junior eligible in this QB class and is a bit unpolished. I’m a bit concerned about his capability of coming in and being a leader for your football team. He has the physical skills, but there are maturity issues that NFL clubs have been busy investigating.

I respect your thought of instantaneous chemistry, but it would be anything but instantaneous. Patterson is very green and might not be a big time contributor until his third NFL season. Likewise Bray is also not NFL ready right now. So while those two might have chemistry, I’m not sure you’d see it right away on an NFL field against NFL competition.

I do subscribe to your latter suggestion. In fact that’s what I believe will happen in this draft. I believe Buffalo goes quarterback in the first and receiver in the second. Now they may trade back in round one before taking the QB, but I believe there’s a good chance they do that and Hunter is a viable value in round two.

I’m also a fan of E.J. Manuel despite the naysayers.

5 – Chris,

With the Bills being deficient last year at WR (and getting rid of what little depth that they have by releasing Nelson and Jones) on top of not signing ANY free agent WRs this offseason, doesn’t it seem like there’s a VERY good chance they draft Cordarrelle Patterson with their 8th pick? I’m not even saying I want that, but what choice do they have? That position is looking thinner and thinner this offseason. This is assuming they can’t get their franchise QB in the first round…

-Nate
PS- Go Bills

CB: I think your point is well taken. The Bills need to add an instant contributor at receiver. I believe this will happen in round two. There’s good value between rounds two and four where you can get a player that can help you sooner rather than later. The value at WR is not good in round one until the very end.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills took two receivers in the draft despite the fact that they have just six picks.


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Nix dismisses guard talk

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2013 – 11:26 pm

Recent mock drafts by ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both had one of the top two guards projected to the Bills in their respective mock drafts. However, Bills GM Buddy Nix didn’t sound all that anxious to take North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper or Alabama’s Chance Warmack with the eighth overall pick despite his respect for the skill sets of those players.

When asked if the free agent losses of Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart left them in a situation where they felt compelled to take one of the top two guards, who many feel are fitting of top 10 value, Nix said he did not.

“Not at all. Not at all,” said Nix. “I know people have said we’re taking one of those top two guards. Our roster in house is better than I think we get credit for especially offensive line. We’re pretty deep there. We’ve got six guards and we think a couple of them can play. Now having said all that before you write that we’re not going to take a guard at number eight, it’s hard to pass up two players like the old boy at Alabama and the kid at North Carolina. Both of those are great players so you have to give that a lot of thought when they come up.”

Still, Nix went on to say that if they got through the draft without taking a guard they wouldn’t be in a panic situation. So it sounds like even though the grade and value on Cooper or Warmack might fit for pick 8, the Bills aren’t keenly interested in landing one of them at that point in the draft.


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Nix: There’ll be 2 or 3 big time QBs in draft

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2013 – 11:41 am

Bills GM Buddy Nix obviously isn’t going to tip his hand as to when the Bills may draft a quarterback, but he wasn’t shy in disclosing to Bills play-by-play man on the John Murphy Show that he thinks there are a few prospects in this draft class that are likely to turn into outstanding signal callers.

“I’ve said this before when everybody was beating this class up and they still are somewhat. I think there are two or three guys in this class that’ll be big time quarterbacks in this league and very successful guys,” said Nix. “Now all of them have deficiencies just like we all do. But all these guys can do something good.”

Nix went on to say that there are even more quarterbacks in the class that can improve your team.

“There are about six or seven that do enough good things to win for you. If you don’t go and make them try to fit a system that they can’t do then they have a chance to be successful,” said Nix.

When asked by Murphy if he thinks the Bills will be in position to get one or two of the top flight quarterback prospects he spoke of, Nix said the following.

“Now I said two now, but don’t hold me to that because there might be four,” said Nix. “Hopefully we’ll have a shot at one at some point in the draft. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to take a quarterback in the first round, but it doesn’t mean we’re not either.”

Nix will be commenting further on the team’s draft plans this afternoon at the Bills draft luncheon. Buffalobills.com will have full coverage.


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Nix: Our draft priorities haven’t changed

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2013 – 11:21 am

Bills GM Buddy Nix has been pretty clear about the team’s draft priorities in terms of positions that need to be addressed. With the draft less than two weeks away and the initial wave of free agency in the rearview mirror, Nix was asked on the John Murphy Show if the Bills draft priorities have changed in light of the free agent additions.

Nix indicated that their priorities are largely unchanged, but did seem to indicate that they feel a bit more comfortable at some positions following some of their free agent signees.

“They’re about the same,” said Nix. “We have added a quarterback so there’s some stability there. Then we’ve added two linebackers which lessens that value here in the draft. What we’ll do is like we always do, we’ll try to take the best player. We’re not going to reach, even for need. We’ll take those guys if there are two or three positions with the same grade then we’ll take the need position.”

Nix along with Bills Assistant GM Doug Whaley, Director of College Scouting Chuck Cook and Pro Personnel Director Tom Gibbons will be commenting further on Buffalo’s draft plans at today’s draft luncheon. Buffalobills.com will have full coverage through the course of the afternoon.


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Main purpose of pre-draft visits

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2013 – 11:17 am

The Bills conducted 30 pre-draft visits at One Bills Drive with prospects from this year’s draft class and did so over the span of just 10 days. The scouting department already knew an awful lot about all of the prospects that walked through the doors of Buffalo’s team facility in early April, but there’s one main thing they’re trying to get a gauge on with each of the prospects when they come on a pre-draft visit.

Bills GM Buddy Nix, who joined Bills play-by-play man John Murphy on the John Murphy show last night and explained the main purpose of bringing in players on pre-draft visits.

“You’ll usually bring a guy in and go through all the mental stuff where you get him discussing scheme and see how much he can retain, how quick he can retain it and sometimes that makes a difference (in their draft grade),” said Nix. ‘In this business you don’t have much time to get it done and while guys get cut sometimes for physical deficiencies, sometimes they get cut because they can’t get it mentally. And that’s the big thing we’re trying to find out.”


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