Bills DT Star Lotulelei eager to get back to work with ‘feisty’ Ed Oliver

06/16/2021
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Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has made his return to One Bills Drive after opting out of the 2020 season and skipping voluntary OTAs this past month. The ex-Carolina Panther is reuniting with his former position coach, Eric Washington, as well as some of the team’s 2020 additions in Mario Addison and Vernon Butler, but few players are excited about Lotulelei’s return as third-year defensive tackle Ed Oliver.

“Ed was one of the guys that ran up to me and gave me a big hug” Lotulelei said in his press conference on Tuesday. “I love Ed, he’s a little feisty dude, love the way he plays, he’s been great since he’s been here.”

Lotulelei and Oliver often played next to each other during Oliver’s rookie year in 2019, with Ed in the more penetrating three-technique role (lined up between the guard and tackle) and Star taking on double teams at the one-technique (lined up between the center and guard.) While Lotulelei doesn’t fill out the stat sheet, he plays a key role in making life easier for the linebackers behind him, the defensive ends on the outside, and the penetrating Oliver next to him. 

Without Lotulelei in 2020, the interior of the Bills defensive line lacked some stoutness, and Oliver was asked to pick up a lot of the slack. Despite being undersized, Oliver had to take some of the one tech snaps, and while he performed adequately, his skill set is better served penetrating from the three-tech, where he uses his burst and quickness to get into the backfield in a hurry. Lotulelei noticed, and had plenty of praise for the 2019 first round pick when asked about his thoughts on Oliver’s player’s 2020 season.

“Ed, I thought he played well last year, he was dealing with a lot more double teams than he did his rookie year, but I feel like he played well,” Loutlelei explained. “He always goes hard, that’s one thing you know you’re gonna get from Ed, he goes 100-percent every time he’s on the field. I love watching Ed play, he’s like a missile out there.”

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Coach Sean McDermott was also asked about Oliver, specifically what his expectations were for the player for this season and he set the bar pretty high for the Houston product.

“It’s to affect the game,” McDermott said of his expectations for Oliver. “He’s a top pick. He’s here to affect the quarterback, affect the game, and this will be an opportunity for him to develop into a consistent performer for us. I really appreciate the way he’s worked, I think his offseason to this point has put him in position to do what I just mentioned, but again the work remains, and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

While most of Oliver’s success this season and in seasons to come will be a result of his own hard work, having Lotulelei next to him this year should help Oliver achieve that consistency McDermott is looking for. 2021 will be a make or break year for Ed Oliver, and as Star has already attested, he’s excited to get his partner in the trenches back for this crucial third season. 

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