PITTSFORD — Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett called plays from upstairs in the coaches’ box in Sunday’s exhibition opener in Indianapolis. Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine called his signals from the sidelines.
That’s the way they plan to work it all season.
Pettine called defenses from up in the box when he was with the New York Jets. Here’s his perspective on his perspective: “It was strange. It had been I think 2002, I was video assistant in Baltimore I was doing still prints sitting behind the bench; that was the last time I was on the sideline for an NFL game.”
“Part of it was with calling the defense, I always felt it was a problem in New York when I called them and the team was up-tempo, that it had to go through somebody else,” Pettine said. “You had that couple seconds where it had to get called twice. Now I had the ability to make the call and also give a couple of reminders. Tell the nose guard to do this. Or make sure the 3-technique does this. To me it’s something I wanted to do and I knew when I made the move here I was going to come down on the field.”
Hackett, meanwhile, will be in the box despite the fact the Bills offense will try to run an up-tempo style. Hackett says he likes players to feed off his enthusiasm in practice, but he can focus better on calling plays from up in the booth.
“I was brought here to call plays,” he said. “That’s the one time, those couple hours, I’m supposed to be calm and I’m supposed to be relaxed. I think when we’re out here practicing, they have to feel that energy. They have to always want to go harder. I always want them to kind of hear me in the back of their minds when they’re out on the field. But up in the box I’m there to call the right play at the right time. I have to be calm, cool and collected and get that in there. That’s what I’m here for. It is hard because you do want to go down there and celebrate and pick them up when bad things happen and get them going. But sometimes you have to pick the right thing you can do to be successful.”
The Bills’ exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings Friday at Ralph Wilson Stadium is not sold out and will be blacked out to local television.
The Kids Day game is a 7 p.m. kickoff. Tickets for children 14 and under are $15 with an accompanying adult ticket purchase.
The Bills settled their punter competition by releasing Brian Stahovich.
Incumbent punter Shawn Powell has had a good training camp and punted well at Indianapolis, with a net average of 43 yards.
Powell ranked 23rd in the league in net punting as a rookie last year with a 38.1-yard average. He is an elite physical talent at the position – at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds — and the Bills are counting on him to progress in his second season.
Stahovich, 5-11 and 197, did not have as strong a leg as Powell and had to rely more on consistent hang times. Powell handled all of the holding duties on place-kicks for the first exhibition game. Stahovich had given way to Powell in that role during practice last week.
Rookie speedster Marquise Goodwin again supplied the play of the day by catching a 70-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb. It was an impressive throw by Kolb, who heaved the ball, unofficially, 57 yards in the air. Goodwin caught the ball at the 13 in stride and sprinted into the end zone.
Defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson reacted by saying, to no one in particular, “If I was lined up on 88, I’d just run to the goal line.”
Said coach Doug Marrone after practice: “He has speed, and like I always said, Coach MacPherson, my college coach, would always tell us that luck follows speed. I agree with that statement. I think that what people tend to do is focus on Marquise’s speed, but Robert Woods has speed, T.J. Graham has speed, obviously CJ Spiller has speed. I’ve made this point before where we have much more team speed than we’ve had before. Sometimes, a lot of things are one-on-one and people defend everyone, the whole field, you’re talking about a missed tackle with someone that can hopefully that can go to the end zone. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Kolb had a good day and moved around well on his left knee, which he hurt 11 days ago.
“I was happy today,” Marrone said of Kolb. “Obviously I watched him closely yesterday and again today. I thought today he looked really good. It’s to a point now where he’s practicing and we’re going to get him ready to play.”
Quarterback EJ Manuel took the first session of 11-on-11 snaps with the starting unit. He and Kolb rotated with the starters afterward. By unofficial count, Manuel took 22 snaps, Kolb 18 and Jeff Tuel 12 during full-team sessions.
Not practicing were T.J. Graham, Brad Smith, Leodis McKelvin, Jumal Rolle, T.J. Heath, Kourtnei Brown, Aaron Tipoti, Keith Williams, Mike Caussin and Chris Hairston.
The crowd was small, about 250 people, at St. John Fisher College.