The Buffalo Bills’ offensive line will likely feature four new starters from a season ago after the team completely overhauled the position group during the offseason. Buffalo took the field for their first training camp practice Thursday at St. John Fisher College with eight new faces on the offensive line, as well as a new position coach.
Prior to practice, head coach Sean McDermott addressed the media and explained that the lack of continuity up front will be a challenge that the team needs to overcome throughout the preseason.
“Would we like to have more continuity? Yes,” McDermott said Thursday. “That’s the part of building it up the right way where you have to add players. You look at teams who have won, in particular in our division, and there’s been a ton of continuity. There’s strength in that, in that staying power where guys know where you start on the first day of the install is not, ‘Hey, this is how you get in your stance.’ I’m being extreme with that example, but that is one of our challenges right now is the lack of continuity on the offensive side, and we understand that.”
The first-team offensive line consisted of Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano and rookie second round draft pick, Cody Ford. Veteran free agent addition Ty Nsekhe saw first-team reps as well at right tackle.
McDermott noted that communication will be critical to the team’s success and the bulk of responsibility will fall on Mitch Morse – who the team signed to a four-year, $44.5 million contract in free agency. The former Kansas City Chiefs standout will man the pivot and play a big role in calling out protections and keeping the offensive line in sync.
“Look, he sets the table,” McDermott said of Morse. “He’s the quarterback of the offense other than the main quarterback. Quiet teams, we’ve mentioned the word communication a couple of times this morning, quiet teams don’t win. We need a guy that can get everyone on the same page, setting the table, as I already mentioned. Making sure that we’re all on the same sheet of music.”
Following practice, Dawkins told BuffaloBills.com Insider Chris Brown that he was impressed with how the offensive line communicated in their first practice of camp together.
“Everything feels right so far,” Dawkins said. “It feels scary with how right everything feels. It’s only day one, but it feels like week three of camp. Guys are flying around. Guys are talking. Guys know exactly what they’re doing. It feels like everybody knows their role.”
Last year, Buffalo’s offensive line was disastrous both in pass protection and run blocking. Josh Allen was sacked 28 times in 11 1/2 games and under pressure on the majority of his dropbacks. The offensive line surrendered 41 sacks as a whole. The constant pressure was a clear obstacle that hindered Allen’s development throughout the season and limited what the team could do schematically on offense. The Bills’ run game struggled mightily due to the lack of talent on the offensive line as well. LeSean McCoy had his worst statistical season of his career, gaining just 514 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while averaging 3.2 yards-per-carry.
We’re just one day into training camp, but the positive early signs from the offensive line are certainly encouraging.
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