It’s rare that an undrafted rookie free agent is even given a cordial grunt as a veteran player passes him by in the locker room or on the practice field. In the days leading up to Bills training camp however, undrafted offensive lineman Zach Chibane was one of the more popular rookies this week.
That’s because Chibane played for Doug Marrone at Syracuse the past four years and has a pretty good idea of what the players can expect at training camp. Equipped with this knowledge has naturally made Chibane the recipient of a host of questions from fellow rookies and veterans alike.
“Everybody has been asking what camp is like,” Chibane told Buffalobills.com. “I tell them all the same thing, that it’s going to be tough with long days, but that’s what camp is. I’m sure it’s going to be different to some degree than what we did at Syracuse. I probably don’t know what I’m getting myself into fully, but I’m excited about it.”
Knowing the Bills will spend the entire camp at St. John Fisher College will already make Marrone’s first NFL camp as a head coach different from his last preseason camp at Syracuse.
“We went up to Fort Drum military base about an hour from Canada in Watertown, New York last year,” Chibane said. “We were there last year for a little over a week for camp and it was kind of like a boot camp. We were woken up by drill sergeants a couple of days. It was the whole deal, pretty legit.”
Marrone is known for running a tight schedule at camp with very little down time. Knowing there is a lot more to be learned by the players in Year One with new offensive and defensive schemes, the coaching staff is expected to have a lot of meeting time scheduled in addition to the practices.
Chibane remembers Marrone’s first camp at Syracuse where the players had to be whipped into shape.
“It was intense,” he said. “My freshman year was a little bit different and he had just gotten there so things were kind of crazy. Guys weren’t really in shape. As time went on and the years went by we worked with his staff and got in better shape and we were able to be more effective with the things that we did. I’d like to think this camp will be more like what we went through my senior year and those were long days too and a lot of meetings and we got after it on the football field.”
Buffalo’s players already know what kind of shape to be in having been with Marrone and his staff the entire offseason. That’s why Chibane is anticipating a challenging training camp, but one that also keeps the players physical limitations in mind.
“It’s probably harder than some of the camps out there,” said Chibane. “I’ve heard some guys talk about not being in full pads much, but with him he likes to put on the pads and make sure guys can play in game type situations. It’s going to be tough, but he has a good feel for his players. He knows when to back off.”
Chibane said Marrone has always had his finger on the pulse of how players are feeling through the course of camp and that he makes adjustments accordingly.
“He likes to take care of the players. He makes sure that we’re feeling good. He knows that everyone has a season to play,” said Chibane. “With him having played in the NFL and college he knows how players’ bodies can feel. I’m sure it’s going to be a little bit different. It’s hard and long days, but that’s what training camp is.”