Things look bright for the Buffalo Bills, who just wrapped up their first week of OTAs Friday. After making their first playoff appearance since 1999, the team’s fanbase is eager to follow the Bills as they work to take the next step and emerge as AFC contenders. The team has a ton of new faces that weren’t on the roster a season ago, and that made for some intriguing storylines in practices. Here are four of the biggest takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ “intro” week of Offseason Training Activities.
Josh Allen turning heads, still a work in progress
The Bills moved up to select Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The 6-foot-5, 232-pounder has incredible arm strength and physical ability, but the 21-year old Wyoming product has a lot of work to do.
The football legit makes a noise cutting thru the air when Josh Allen uncorks pic.twitter.com/skBzXOTF1d
— Josh Reed (@4JoshReed) May 24, 2018
Undoubtedly a work in progress, Allen’s strengths were evident early, as the former Cowboy signal-caller wowed reporters with the velocity, placement and touch of his throws. But, as he did through his college career, Allen made a handful of terrible throws, also. Allen was highly scrutinized prior to the NFL draft due to his sub-60-percent completion rate in two seasons as the Cowboys’ starting passer. The rookie primarily took snaps with the third-team offense, behind A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″] Josh Allen observation, which is also a confirmation from a lot of what I saw on game film – touch passes are fine/good between hashes and/or forward. Does well floating balls over LBs to TEs, for example. Touch passes short outside (swing passes, etc) are where some issues arise — Sal Capaccio 🏈 (@SalSports) May 25, 2018
The team is being patient with their young, talented quarterback, and rightfully so. But, if Allen is able to light up the Buffalo Bills’ secondary throughout training camp in the same way he did during the first week of OTA’s, it could be difficult for the coaching staff to keep McCarron or Peterman ahead of him on the depth chart.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″] “The game just moves a little bit faster. It’s not that these guys run so much faster, they’re so much bigger than guys in college, it’s just that they’re smarter,” Allen said. “They know where they need to be, they get the route recognition a lot faster, a lot quicker. “They’re jumping on balls now. We’ve got guys that are fantastic players — Micah Hyde, [Jordan] Poyer, and then you’ve got a vet like Vontae Davis out there and he’s pushing our receivers to be better and making sure that, as quarterbacks, we’re putting the ball where it needs to be.” [/perfectpullquote]
Buffalo Bills OL competition heating up, John Miller fighting to reclaim starting job
The Buffalo Bills saw long-time center Eric Wood retire during the offseason and released Richie Incognito from the reserve/inactive list early this week. The team traded former second-round pick and veteran left tackle Cordy Glenn prior to the NFL draft, opening the door for competition throughout the offensive line. Buffalo signed center Russell Bodine and offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse as unrestricted free agents before selecting Virginia Tech guard Wyatt Teller in the fifth round.
The only player that appears to have a job set in stone is second-year left tackle Dion Dawkins. From left guard to right tackle, there appears to be a wide open competition. As the opening week of OTAs wrapped up, Bodine started at center with Vlad Ducasse at left guard and John Miller at right guard.
Miller, the team’s 2015 third-round draft pick out of Louisville, was inconsistent as a rookie but looked solid in 2016 before taking a step back in 2017 and ultimately was benched.
While Miller admits that the experience was humbling, he’s more driven than ever.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″] “This year I’m starting over, we’re starting fresh,” John Miller told Buffalobills.com. “I’m taking it as a new opportunity. An opportunity to grow and an opportunity to get better every day, every time I step out there for practice. Show the coaches and the GM and my teammates that I want to be here and that I belong and just go out every Sunday and compete at a high level.” “It was tough. It’s a growing experience. It’s a very, very humbling experience. But you know what? I grew from it,” he said. “What I found about myself is, I never doubted myself. Not one time. So I learned a lot about myself and who I am, and the person that I want to be on and off the field.” [/perfectpullquote]
There’s still quite some time for evaluations to be made, but Miller’s proved that he can play at a high level in the past and seems ready to focus on football again.
Shaq Lawson out to prove himself right, doubters wrong
The Bills haven’t seen the ROI they’d hoped when they selected Clemson’s star defensive end Shaq Lawson in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.
In two seasons, he’s dealt with numerous injuries that limited him to just 21 games in which he recorded just 46 tackles, six sacks, seven tackles for loss, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
The subject of trade rumors during the offseason, Lawson isn’t happy about the slow start to his career.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]”Alright it’s the third year, I’m a former 1st round pick, it’s time for me to show why I got drafted in the first round. It’s time to do my job and not let these Bills fans down and the coaches down.”[/perfectpullquote]
Tremaine Edmunds comes as advertised
Most rookies have a difficult time making the adjustment from college football to the NFL level. You’d think that the learning curve would only be heightened for a player that was just 19-years old when he was taken in the first round. But that isn’t the case for Tremaine Edmunds, who’s already the Buffalo Bills’ starting MIKE linebacker.
Edmunds is a physical freak. Standing 6-foot-5, 252-pounds, the former Virginia Tech star brings power, athleticism and instincts that the Bills’ front seven desperately lacked for years. He’ll see his share ups and downs, but the future is bright for the young ‘backer, as veteran Lorenzo Alexander believes.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]“I would be surprised if he’s not an all-pro player in the next two, three years,” Alexander said Thursday on the Buffalo Bills’ flagship show, One Bills Live.. “I would be surprised, really. Just his athleticism and the way he’s handling the information, I would be really surprised if he’s not that next great linebacker in his era, like that Luke Kuechly-type.”[/perfectpullquote]