While he secured the starting position partly because of Seantrel Henderson’s lack of availability, Mills also played well enough to warrant the starting job over the season’s final five weeks. Henderson opened the season as the team’s starting right tackle.
Mills was glad he got a chance to play, but as for his future status with the Bills he’s not sure how things will shake out for him as a restricted free agent.
“You never know with things going on in this league,” Mills said. “You think you’re going to be back with a team, and then unfortunately you move on somewhere else. I’d love to be back here, but if it doesn’t work out that way, if it’s somewhere else I’ll be, I wish this team the best. But I’d love to be back here.”
Mills became the starter in Week 13, and he kept the job for the season’s final five weeks. Before the Bills claimed him, the right tackle spent time on the Detroit Lions practice squad. He also was on the Dallas Cowboys roster for all of a week this season. The former fifth-round pick of the Chicago Bears started in 29 games at tackle.
While in Buffalo, Mills feels he took advantage of his opportunity.
“Coaches around the league always talk about ‘next man up.’ I waited for my opportunity, and I feel like I made the most of it,” he said. “I feel I [held up my end of the bargain] to the best of my abilities.”
The waiver-wire addition quickly blended into a Bills offensive line that led a punishing run game. Such units need cohesion, and Mills feels he fit in well with the rest of the Bills starting unit.
“The offensive line is different from any other position group. When I came in, they treated me like I had been here, and I was like a brother. The cohesiveness that we built together and just being around them, it was great. It felt good being with Wood and Richie and Seantrel, Cyril, Kouandijo, Cordy and the rest of the guys,” he said.
In addition to the having prior familiarity with offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who he played under his first two seasons in Chicago, Mills noted his relationship with Henderson, the man whom he replaced.
“He’s my locker mate. We talk every day,” said Mills. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to be here the last couple weeks because of the illness, but I wish he could have been here. He’s like a brother, like a friend. Once I came in, they embraced me. He embraced me. He’s always playing music, clowning and laughing. He’s a good, positive energy when we came in this locker room.”
Despite his strong play, Mills is not a lock to be on next year’s roster. He knows it largely won’t be up to him as to whether he returns to Buffalo in 2016 or beyond, but he’d like to be here.
“It is what it is, but as of right now, I’m a Buffalo Bill until March when everything else starts,” said Mills. “I’ll be glad and be grateful to be back here, but if it doesn’t happen that way, I’ll thank the Bills for the opportunity and try to make it somewhere else.”