Emmanuel Sanders raves about Bills’ passion, Josh Allen’s jaw-dropping throw


Emmanuel Sanders knew what he was signing up for when he joined the Buffalo Bills on a one-year, $6 million contract in free agency. But watching quarterback Josh Allen on film – as Sanders says he spent many of his off days last year doing – and seeing the young quarterback’s howitzer of an arm live on the field are two very different things, which the 34-year old receiver learned Thursday at Day 2 of Bills training camp.

Sanders spoke to the media following practice and described a post throw from Allen to slot receiver Cole Beasley that left the veteran stunned.

“Josh made a throw today that I haven’t seen,” Sanders said. “A post ball to Cole Beasley. It was crazy, like mouth-dropping. I’ve been in the league 12 years. I’m excited about what they’ve created out here and I think we’ve got an opportunity obviously.”

For a wideout that’s caught passes from future Hall of Famers Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the amazement at Allen’s talent isn’t something to take in passing. Sanders has appeared in three Super Bowls, winning one, and made it clear that he signed with the Bills to win another. And just two days into training camp, the veteran pass-catcher’s beliefs on what this 2021 Bills team could accomplish seem valid.

“It’s everything that I thought it was going to be,” Sanders said about his new team. “Obviously, I came here for a reason. I did my research. Just talking with Cole and Stefon and the offensive coordinator in terms of the plays that are being called, and the energy around the building. I’m having fun.

“You have a young quarterback that everybody’s talking about. You’ve got an offensive system that’s pass-happy, receivers catching a lot of balls making a lot of plays. You show up with that expectation and you know what it’s about. But that throw, in terms of the zip on the ball and the accuracy and the catch by Cole – it was just a beautiful play.”

Sanders joins one the league’s most explosive passing attacks featuring the NFL’s leading receiver, Stefon Diggs, who caught 127 passes for 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns, along with his former college teammate and second-team All-Pro slot receiver Cole Beasley, who caught 82 passes for 967 yards and four touchdowns for Buffalo last season. This trio of receivers who specialize in making opposing defenders look downright silly with their explosiveness, shiftiness and short-area quickness are sure to give defensive coordinators nightmares. In turn, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has no shortage of plays he can dial up to get his playmakers the ball in space.

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At this time last year, the biggest concern facing the Bills’ offense was how quickly Allen and Diggs could develop chemistry, a topic that was put to bed as soon as the team took the field. Now with teams able to do more in-person work, Sanders isn’t worried about getting on the same page as his new quarterback. After all, at the end of the day, it’s just football.

“I’m old school,” Sanders explained. “Backyard football, like, ‘hey kid, strap up let’s get it in.’ That’s just how I think. That’s how Josh is too – just get open and I’ll find you with the ball. I think sometimes people when talking about football in general, they overthink it. Football is just a game, you gotta have fun, you gotta go out and make plays and you can’t be a robot. That’s my approach, that’s Josh’s approach. Just get out to your spot, get open and make plays.”

Sanders provides a lot of value on the field and should undoubtedly play a huge role within Buffalo’s offense this season. But his presence in the locker room will be just as, if not more valuable, due to his own experiences playing with some of the game’s all-time great players. The veteran receiver knows that every conversation he has with a young teammate is an opportunity to pass on the knowledge that was given to him at some point in his career.

“I’m just going to be me,” says Sanders. I feel like when I first came into the league I played with Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Troy Polamalu, all these guys. Then I had the pleasure of going to Denver and playing with Demarcus Ware and Peyton Manning, then I went to New Orleans and San Fran. I’ve been around some Hall of Fame guys. One thing I always say is if you want to be great at something, look at the people that are great at it. So I’ve studied the way Peyton Manning has been a pro, Demarcus Ware, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, all those guys.

“So I feel like that’s me. I show up and try to do the right thing, be an example, and if I see something that’s wrong, I’ll say something about it. But I just want to be an example. If young guys walk up to me ask me some questions, to me I’m just talking, but they’re receiving information, how to be a pro, how to think, and what to look for. So I just want to be that veteran presence.”

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Sanders knows what championship football teams look like and just two days into training camp, he sees something special in this Bills roster. It’s not just the talent that impresses him, though. It’s the type of players and people that round out the team. When asked what drives him to get up and grind out the dog days of the summer in training camp, Sanders simply said that it’s what he loves to do, and that passion is evident in every player on the team.

“It’s just in you,” Sanders said about his passion for the game. “I don’t have to think about it because I’m doing what I love to do. This is what I love to do, dude, I’m passionate about this so it’s fun in general. It’s fun to get up and work out and chase a goal. That’s just fun to me. It’s fun to get up and go against two-seven (Tre’Davious White) and see Josh throw the ball and see Stef go crazy over a play. This is what we love to do. And when you talk about an organization or a football team in general, that’s what I mean by fun. You got a group of guys that love what they do. And you think everyone’s passionate about what they do, but some people are just good at it. Passion and good are two different things. I think in this building there’s a lot of guys that are passionate about what they’re doing and they love what they do.”