Inside The Bills

Big Mike: Don’t call it a statement win

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2014 – 1:51 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams is a player who will give it to you straight. There’s no sugar coating anything with Williams. So when he was asked about the significance of Sunday’s season-opening win at Chicago, Williams didn’t see it carrying a whole lot of weight. When asked if Sunday’s victory was a statement win Williams said it won’t mean much if they don’t follow it up with another.

“Really nothing. I don’t think it does anything, that’s not our goal,” Williams said of Sunday’s victory. “If we go and lose 15-straight, we’re 1-15. It don’t do nothing. We need to get ready for Week Two and hopefully we’ll be 2-0 next week. We just look at it as we’re 1-0, we’re happy, we go on to Miami.”

Williams’ approach was a collective one in Buffalo’s locker room Monday, which is a healthy outlook. As important as the win was in Chicago the players aren’t reveling in the win knowing it was just one game. The team sounds like they’re focused more on getting their next victory than enjoying the one they got Sunday.


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Mike Williams: My phone is never busy

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2014 – 1:45 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams had a pair of catches Sunday in Buffalo’s win, including a very big 20-yard grab that he went airborne to make on the team’s game-winning field goal drive in overtime to convert a 2nd-and-9. Williams only saw 30 snaps worth of action on offense, but as he stated, when they needed him he made plays.

“That’s just the type of receiver I am—you call my number I’m going to answer. I always say,my phone’s never busy—if you call me I’m going to answer the phone, that’s how I look at it.  If they don’t need me, I guess I’ll be around, but when they need me I’ll be here.”


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Big Mike likes Kickoff Weekend

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 10:35 am

Bills new WR Mike Williams is expected to be a frequent target of EJ Manuel this season. It would do Manuel good to look for Williams especially in the red zone in light of his Kickoff Weekend production.

Williams is tied for first among active players with touchdowns in four straight opening games. Green Bay WR Randall Cobb and Chicago RB Matt Forte are the others.

Overall Williams has 15 receptions for 144 yards and four touchdowns in his four career games on Kickoff Weekend.


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Mike Williams hoping for lots of man coverage

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:50 am

Bills WR Mike Williams had a pretty solid training camp and his performance in the preseason though good was limited in terms of opportunities. The big-bodied wideout is hoping the Bears defense offers a lot of man-coverage matchups.

“Oh yeah, hopefully they stay in man the whole game,” he said. “That’s something as a receiver that you want. All those zones and zone blitzes start to mess with people’s heads, but if you’re in man to man coverage it’s me versus you.”


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Fred’s message to team

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 10:49 pm

With a first half not going particularly well for the offense, Fred Jackson felt it was necessary to huddle up the offensive unit. Here was the gist of his message to the team.

“I was just telling everybody to calm down,” said Jackson. “We’ve got a lot of people that just weren’t on the same page. We’ve got turnovers, we’ve got penalties, things like that, it’s not going to allow you to win a lot of football games. Everybody just has to calm down, go out there and work and let things take care of themselves.  Don’t do everybody else’s job, just do your job and we’ll get back in this thing.”

His teammates echoed the message.

“Basically to stay together,” said Mike Williams. “This is a lesson for us and somebody is testing us. To show that we’re a better team we can go out there and adjust. The second half is about adjustments no matter if you’re up or you’re down. You’ve got to go and make the adjustments and that’s basically what his message was to us and that’s kind of what we did.”


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Offense holding stuff until regular season

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 10:30 pm

Facing a Tampa defense Saturday night that is a lot like the one they’ll face in Week 1 at Chicago in terms of scheme there was a good chance that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and head coach Doug Marrone were going to play things close to the vest and not make use of plays they feel might work best against that system. EJ Manuel and Mike Williams essentially confirmed that they are holding onto some key parts of their playbook for the regular season.

“There are a few things that I asked him for and of course he said, ‘Hey we’re saving this and that for the regular season,’” said Manuel. “Which I understand, but at the same time we still want to go out there and win and move the ball and score touchdowns. But there are some things that we’re going to continue to save for Chicago.”

“I don’t want to give away a secret, but I think we’ve been doing what we can,” said Mike Williams. “I’ll just say it like that. I think we’ve been doing what he’s been giving us and we’re trying to get better at that. Our play calling has been simple really. We’ve been trying to get better at the simple things and take away the penalties.”


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Mike Williams’ leadership via text

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 10:14 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams does things a little differently than most off the field, which is why it was no surprise to hear one of his unconventional methods of leadership for Buffalo’s offense.

After perhaps one of their best passing days this summer in practice Thursday, Williams confirmed that the competition of working with the Steelers brought out the best in them. He then elaborated on how he tries to keep his offensive teammates motivated leading up to practice.

“Being competitive, you want to win every down,” he said. “I send those guys a text, the receivers and quarterbacks, every day telling them we want to win every down. No matter what it is, we want to win. We want to win first down, we want to win second down, third down and if we go for it on fourth. We want to win. I think it’s about all of us being competitive. We want to win because the fans are out here and we want to show everybody that we’re a threat.”

Williams caught four passes in Thursday’s practice and was one of the top 3 playmakers from the session.


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Manuel assesses his play from Wednesday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2014 – 10:50 pm

EJ Manuel was asked to rate his play from Wednesday’s first practice session with the Steelers. Buffalo’s quarterback wouldn’t call it perfect, but was pretty pleased with how things turned out in the team portions of practice.

“I thought it went well. There were a few balls that I wish I could have back, but besides that I thought we were very good on third down,” said Manuel. “We executed early in practice and we were rolling. I got a chance to go with the first and the second group, so that was very good. The more at-bats I get, the happier I’ll be. Just getting the chance to be better each play.”

In a live interview on the John Murphy Show tonight, WR Mike Williams, who caught a tipped pass for a touchdown Wednesday, said Manuel looked “very confident” on the field Wednesday.


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Mom said, ‘Make them see you.’

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2014 – 9:47 am

Bills WR Mike Williams is pretty happy to be playing for the team he grew up watching and rooting for. The Riverside High grad and Syracuse star had about six touchdowns in practice Sunday and partially credited his mom’s advice for how determined he is to make good on the plays that count the most.

“My mom always said, ‘Make them see you when they’re supposed to see you,’” said Williams. “That’s what she always said to me.  That’s like big first downs, touchdowns,  those are the ones they see.  They don’t see the first play of the game, slants or the second play of the game, curl route.  As soon as you catch that third and 15 or game-tying touchdowns, those are the ones they remember.  It kind of seems like that’s how my career is going.”

The Bills will be only too happy to see that trend continue.


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Mike Williams moving toward 100%

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2014 – 9:42 am

Bills WR Mike Williams teamed up with Sammy Watkins at Sunday’s afternoon practice to dazzle the fans in attendance at times with some high degree of difficulty catches. Williams calls them his “normal catches.” What’s really surprising is Williams, who was recovering from a leg injury in the spring still doesn’t even believe he’s all the way back to the full Mike Williams.

“I’m at like 65%, right now,” Williams said. “I think Week One in Chicago I’ll be 100%.”

If Williams’ play in the camp setting is just 65 percent, Bills fans have a lot to look forward to.


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Mike Williams: “Throw it to the clouds”

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 10, 2014 – 8:00 pm

After two preseason games, and three weeks of training camp, the chemistry between QB EJ Manuel and veteran WR Mike Williams is starting to develop.

In Friday’s preseason win in Carolina, the pair connected for a 28-yard pass play down the middle when Manuel threw it high and Williams went over DB Josh Norman to bring it in.

In Sunday’s after practice at training camp, Manuel and Williams were at it again. EJ found Williams in the end zone during red zone work in one of the early 11-on-11 sessions. And Williams was targeted several times in later red zone work as well.

Williams says he wants to be the quarterback’s go-to guy in the red zone, and he practically guarantees success when he’s thrown the ball.

“I always tell them there’s a 96-percent chance–the other 4-percent is their fault,” he laughed.  “I always tell them, throw it to the clouds, I’m going to find a way to bring it down.”

“It’s true,” Manuel says.  “He’s done it day and day out and he’s been very consistent as far as tracking the ball, whether it’s a fade or a deep ball or a post. I think a great example of that was how we did it in the game. The corner played off him a little bit and I just stuck it on him, he went up and made a great catch. Having that as a security blanked with a wide receiver is awesome for us. “

Williams says he focuses on making big impact catches, for touchdowns and first downs, instead of worrying about how many passes he catches in a game.

” My mom always said, ‘make them see you when they’re supposed to see you.’ That’s what she always said to me,” Williams said. “That’s like big first downs, touchdowns, those are the ones they see. They don’t see the first play of the game, slants or the second play of the game, curl route. As soon as you catch that third and 15 or game-tieing touchdowns, those are the ones they remember. It kinda seems like that’s how my career is going.”

 


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Competitive fire on display Sunday

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 10, 2014 – 7:04 pm

A long, hot practice in the sunshine at Bills camp made for some competitive, chippy play on Sunday.  And both the Bills offense and defense were not shy about letting the other side know when they made big plays.

Veteran wideout Mike Williams took an extra long bow to the crowd after catching a tough touchdown pass in traffic during red zone work.  And Williams curtain call resulted in DB Corey Graham throwing the ball at him after he started to return to the huddle.

“I had about six touchdowns today,” Williams said after practice. “It’s very competitive, we wanted to make it like that. We always want to make it competitive, we want them (defense) to compete, so we can be our best on Sundays.”

Safety Aaron Williams embraced the competitive, fiery nature of Sunday’s practice.

“It’s just one of the things we’re trying to do to get better,” he said. “We don’t want to take crap from anybody. When somebody jumps in your face we’re not going to let it go. We’re trying to be a different defense, more attitude, and just trying to have the attitude that we’re going to win and it has to happen on both sides.”

 


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Fan Friday 8-8

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2014 – 12:02 pm

Hey Bills fans. My apologies for the brief hiatus that Fan Friday took the past two weeks, but we’re back. So keep firing off your questions on email to AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills

Here’s the latest edition of your questions.

1 - Chris,
Thanks for the piece on Jeff.  I was wondering how he was progressing.
He impressed me at the SJF scrimmage last year.  Seemed to get the ball out quickly and made good decisions.
He reminds of Alex Van Pelt but a better athlete.  He impressed again against KC until the pick 6.  He appears to be the fastest and most elusive QB on his feet.  Finally, the Bills protected him all last year with a roster spot so they saw something they liked.
What if he outplays EJ in the preseason again?

Thanks for the good work.

Dan Malwitz
Orchard Park

CB: Tuel has looked good in training camp, picking up where he left off in the spring minicamp. His first preseason game performance was also encouraging. This past week in practice leading up to tonight’s game Tuel gave way to Thad Lewis for second team offense reps. I expect Lewis to be in the backup quarterback role tonight against the Carolina Panthers.

As good as Tuel has looked this competition is a marathon not a sprint. We’ll need to see how Lewis fares tonight with the second unit. Through the first three weeks of training camp practices, Tuel has been the more consistent performer and the better decision maker. But there are still almost three weeks of camp left so there is a lot of time for things to change.

As for Tuel’s chances of unseating EJ Manuel, it simply won’t happen. This organization has put all their eggs in the Manuel basket to lift the offense to new heights. Tuel, or Lewis for that matter, will only take the field in the regular season if Manuel is injured and cannot play. Priority number one is getting Manuel ready to lead the offense this fall.

 

2 – Dear Chris,

I do believe our receivers are some of the most diverse in the NFL. We have Sammy who is very versatile and I think is worth what we gave up in the future for him. We have Mike Williams who we traded for from the Bucs for a late round pick who can be very reliable in the end zone. We also have the help from Robert Woods in the slot who can be a reliable replacement for Steve Johnson. Then we have Marquise Goodwin who is somebody who can break the top off the roof with his lighting fast speed. To top it off we have Marques Easley who helps big time on special teams. The question I have is how do you think Coach Marrone is going to incorporate all these wide receivers to make a winning group who can help Manuel exceed to be the franchise QB I believe he can be?
Thanks,
Bill

CB: I think your description of diverse is very accurate. I believe it’s what GM Doug Whaley had in mind in changing some of the pieces. He got two boundary receivers in Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins, who have large catch radiuses to pull in passes that may not be right on the money. Watkins and Williams are also experts at winning jump balls. Robert Woods and Chris Hogan are both good separation receivers, who can get yards after the catch. Goodwin and Graham offer deep speed to stretch a defense and you’ve already mentioned Marcus Easley’s strengths.

All of that talent is on the roster to provide Manuel with the confidence to let it fly and trust his playmakers. Williams and Watkins are capable of making plays even when they’re covered. Woods and Hogan have a high percentage of route wins meaning they’re usually open for Manuel to make use of and Goodwin and Graham are always threats to get behind a defense.

The bottom line however, is it’s on Manuel to make them successful because no matter how effective any of the receivers are at winning their matchups, those wins do not add up to anything if Manuel doesn’t target them and make the right decisions. The success of the receiving corps is ultimately dependent on Manuel’s on field decision making and accuracy.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Thanks continuing to answer questions concerning the Bills. Many fans including myself really enjoy seeing your answers to what sometimes are very difficult questions. This question may qualify as a difficult one.

With 4 running backs on the team, what’s chances someone gets traded?

Thanks,
Bob Hammond
CB: Appreciate the kind words. As for the running backs on Buffalo’s roster, the natural speculation is that the staff will not keep all four on the squad when the roster is reduced to 53. I think what most casual observers are not considering are two important factors.

First, this team ran the football more than any other NFL club in the league last season. That heavy workload was part of the reason both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller succumbed to lingering injuries that compromised their effectiveness in 2013.

The front office and coaching staff made a conscious decision to fortify their running back stable in the offseason so in the event that injuries crop up again this season there will be little to no drop off in their rushing attack. Bryce Brown and ‘Boobie’ Dixon provide such depth.

Barring a catastrophic injury situation at another position that could require them to move one of their running back assets to fill a void via trade, I believe all four will be on the roster come September because at its core this offense will be defined by their run game.

And teams that are run heavy are quickly realizing that if one of your top two backs goes down to injury the identity of your offense will be dramatically impacted. Having these four backs protects against such a setback.

 

4 – Chris,

A – With the signing of Anthony Dixon and his power and size as RB, does that pose a threat to the FB position and the job of Frank Summers?
B – At this point who is considered the 1st Backup Center to Eric Wood?
C – Has it been disclosed by the team as to the health issue Chris Hairston had?  Can he play both guard and tackle positions which would drastically improve his chances of making the roster?

-Joe

CB: I think Dixon is a lock to make the roster, and if the numbers do not allow for a true fullback in Frank Summers, then yes it’s likely that Dixon would serve in the fullback role when such play calls on offense require one.

Backup center to Eric Wood is Doug Legursky at this point.

Chris Hairston medical situation from last season has not been revealed due to HIPAA laws. It is only up to Hairston as to whether or not he wants to make his condition, which is he over now, to be disclosed. As has been seen in training camp, he’s been lined up at both guard and tackle, with tackle being his most recent position. That is where he feels most comfortable since guard is new to him. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares tonight with the expectation that he’ll line up as the second team left tackle.

 

5 – Hi Chris,
As always, thank you so much for all of your excellent work. The opportunity for Bills fans to stay informed from afar is just excellent. I want to begin by saying I have all the faith in Jim Schwartz and the Bills defensive personnel, but I would like your insight on something. I understand that the exotic blitz packages of the Pettine era will not continue and that there needs to be a balance. We clearly weren’t where we needed to be against the run nor on third down efficiency. In the July 4th Fan Friday you mentioned that you would trade 10 sacks for the top 3rd down defense and top 10 run defense. I completely agree, but what I haven’t heard mentioned by anyone is how that would affect our secondary.

I was very impressed with the play of our secondary, even without Jairus Byrd, and especially by the number of turnovers they generated. My question is, by reducing the QB pressure, don’t we sacrifice more than just the sacks? I worry that we open ourselves up for more deep plays from the opponents passing game. I believe there is a perfect balance in there somewhere and I truly believe Jim Schwartz is deserving of the respect he is given around the league, I am just curious to hear your thoughts on the issue.
Thank you,
Cory in VA

CB: The only point I was trying to make was I would rather have more balanced production defensively across the board. I didn’t mean to infer that 10 fewer sacks would need to happen to have a better run defense or better third down defense. What encourages me is Jim Schwartz strives to have across the board production with his defense. And I don’t believe that you have to sacrifice sacks to be better in those other areas.

Schwartz has been a successful DC because he has found that perfect balance in his career as a defensive play caller. It’s my belief that he’ll be able to do that here perhaps more than anywhere else he has coached in his career. The main reason why is because this is the most talented secondary he has ever had in his career as a defensive coordinator.

When you have a secondary capable of man coverage it helps the pass rush and when you have a front four that can generate effective pressure it allows you to drop seven into coverage. Schwartz will take those two advantages and creatively use play calling to keep opposing offenses guessing.


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How EJ changed his throws to ‘Big Mike’

Posted by Chris Brown on July 27, 2014 – 7:56 pm

Mike Williams put on a show in the red zone in Sunday’s practice showing his expert ability to high point the football and out jump defenders. He told EJ Manuel at the outset of training camp to put the ball “in the clouds” and he’ll go get it. On Sunday he was true to his word, but Manuel shared how he’s changed the way he throws to Williams based on a conversation they had.

“Well, at first when I started throwing to him, I used to just lead him,” said Manuel. “Mike just wants the ball up there so he can go up and get it. Instead of having to throw it 60 yards down the field and having him have to track it. That’s just an example of us getting a better rapport with one another.”

“I can see him progressing as it goes,” said Williams of Manuel. “He’s feeling his way right now. There are new guys on our team that he’s going to be throwing to. It’s kind of a different offense when you put it all together like that, but as I saw it he got better and better with that.”


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Watkins playmaking will open things up

Posted by Chris Brown on July 25, 2014 – 11:03 pm

With all the plays being turned in by Sammy Watkins in the training camp practices, it’s bound to lead to greater attention from opposing defenses and that will lead to more opportunities for the other receivers.

That doesn’t always reveal itself in the structured nature of practice, but in a game when opposing defenses are reacting Watkins is going to draw added attention. That will benefit the likes of Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin and the rest of the receiving corps.

“I don’t think it’s ever been just Sammy and Sammy knows that too,” said EJ Manuel. “He’s obviously getting an opportunity to make plays just like the rest of those guys. Obviously, all I want to do is just give those guys an opportunity to make a catch and they do the rest.”

“We’ve just got so many guys that can go out and make plays, we’ve always got a lot of speed on the field,” said Watkins. “We’ve got guys that can go over you, we’ve got guys that can run great routes, so when one guys making plays, that’s when other guys start to open up because they start to double or run a certain coverage. With everybody making plays, it’s been hard for the coaches and the offense because they want everyone on the field at the same time.”


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Mike Williams sees EJ’s improvement

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2014 – 9:31 am

He doesn’t think it’ll take long for his on field chemistry to develop with EJ Manuel, and one of the reasons why is he saw Manuel’s progress through the course of the spring practices.

WR Mike Williams, who we profiled on Buffalobills.com this morning (Sunday), believes it won’t take much more than a day of practice for the tandem to get on the same page. It seems ambitious, but Williams has confidence in the second-year quarterback.

“I can see him progressing as it goes. He’s feeling his way right now,” said Williams. “There are new guys on our team that he’s going to be throwing to. It’s kind of a different offense when you put it all together like that, but as I saw it he got better and better with that.”

Williams will get his first crack at chemistry with Manuel in tonight’s evening practice at 6:10 at St. John Fisher.


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What comes after reps to build rapport with WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2014 – 1:19 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel is about to begin his most important training camp. Big things are expected from him after a rookie season that included three different knee injuries that cost him six starts. And he’ll need to do it while getting used to a pair of new wideouts in Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. Obviously reps on the practice field will be the most important way to build the chemistry between himself and the two receivers in the passing game. As for the next most important way to build the rapport, Manuel has a thought on how to most effectively get on the same page.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to watch the film together,” Manuel told Buffalobills.com. “I think that’s one thing that we’re excited to do. Obviously with coach Hackett being the OC he kind of goes over everything, but I think it helps me to watch film together because everybody can be on the same page. Instead of receivers saying, ‘Hey what was EJ thinking here?’ Or, ‘What was C.J. thinking here on this run?’ We can all just talk about it right then and there and it goes back to our rapport getting stronger as a team being together for year now and it’s easier to hold everybody accountable.”

Today in our Camp Countdown we took a look at the three ways EJ Manuel can become a difference maker for Buffalo’s offense.


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Couple of vets return to practice

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2014 – 11:15 am

There were two veteran players that returned to the offensive side of the ball at OTAs Tuesday.

WR Mike Williams and RB Anthony Dixon were both absent for Monday’s voluntary session, but both are back working with their teammates today.

TE Tony Moeaki is also participating after sitting out Monday’s session.


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Mike Williams on the fire within

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2014 – 10:09 am

Bills newest WR Mike Williams says his level of motivation is at its peak when people doubt him. Being moved off the Bucs roster has him supremely motivated for the 2014 season.

Williams has always played with an edge since he went in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft.

“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder ever since college. Coming out of college I had 11 receivers taken over me,” said Williams. “I’ve always said I’m going to beat all of them out every year, every team that took them over me.”

Now Williams is ready to add Tampa Bay to the list of teams he’s looking to prove wrong.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I’m going to go out and prove that they made a mistake and that this was a great decision with the Buffalo Bills.”


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Mike Williams fired up to play with EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on April 7, 2014 – 5:15 pm

Any receiver with Mike Williams’ skill set is going to be pretty happy to play with a strong-armed quarterback. So when asked about the prospect of playing with EJ Manuel this fall, Buffalo’s newest receiver was understandably excited.

“It’s great. It’s going to be a pleasure,” said Williams. “Looking at his college career and seeing that he never lost a bowl game. He’s a winner so to be around a guy like that and his arm strength is tremendous. I can’t wait to start working with him. Just tell him to get (the ball) out there.”

 


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