Bills head coach Sean McDermott met with the media via Zoom on Tuesday morning before their second OTA practice. It was the first time McDermott spoke since free agency. Here are three things to know about what he had to say.
1. More than 70 players have reported to voluntary OTAs
Yesterday was Buffalo's first OTA practice of several that will take place before mandatory minicamp on June 15-17. McDermott said more than 70 players have reported to the voluntary practices and it began with communication.
"I think it's flowing freely with our captains, in particular this time of year," McDermott said of the conversations surrounding coming to Buffalo for OTAs. "We went on several calls and we had good dialogue. There's things that are important to bringing a team together and it's hard to bring a team together when you're physically not together."
With practice number two underway on Tuesday, McDermott is looking forward to see how quarterback Josh Allen has improved since the end of last season.
"I'm excited about this second practice right now," McDermott said. "I can tell you on the field Josh has looked good."
McDermott added he's proud of the number of players who chose to report for OTAs. He thinks the group is in okay shape at this point, and is looking forward to the progress that can be made in the coming months.
"They are in what I would consider fairly decent shape at this point, not good enough, but we've got time between now and the season," McDermott added. "I think the great part about the guys that are here is that we get a chance to see where they're at. They get a chance to see where their teammates are at and then compare and contrast with what work remains."
Players like Cody Ford and Zack Moss have been in Buffalo since the offseason began due to rehabbing back from injury. McDermott said Ford and Moss have done a phenomenal job with a not so easy situation.
"The discipline, the commitment, the rehab, especially the lengthy rehab like Cody's had to go through and Zack, that takes a special person be able to do that," McDermott explained. "I'm very proud of the way that everyone that's been here rehabbing has done in terms of following through on their rehab. Cody in this case, the surgeries that he had to go through, just very proud of the way he's handled those as a young player."
McDermott also added that wide receiver Stefon Diggs and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei have not reported to voluntary OTAs yet.
2. Stressing education when it comes to vaccinations
The NFL put many protocols in place last season to keep every team as safe as possible from the threat of COVID-19. With many players back in facilities and the threat of COVID-19 still present, some protocols remain in place.
"I would say we're 60% normal, 65% to 70% normal," McDermott said comparing operating as normal versus with protocols. "I think that's good. It's nice when you're fully vaccinated to be able to do some of those things and that's been good."
McDermott shared that he, general manager Brandon Beane and owners Terry and Kim Pegula are fully vaccinated.
"It's important to us," McDermott said about why he chose to get vaccinated. "I think it's for the greater good, not only our team but the community as well. That's the direction and the choice that I personally made, and I know Brandon, Terry and Kim as well. I applaud everyone in our building that's been able to do that and improve our situation here."
McDermott explained he wants to keep conversations he is having with the team about getting vaccinated internal and those conversations start with respect.
"I don't think the right word is to try and convince," McDermott said of the conversations surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. "I don't think that's the right word. I think the right word is to educate and build awareness, and let people decide. It's kind of two pronged, if you will, with health and safety, and then there's also what you have to do to do your job. I think those are the two prongs of the fork right now that must be considered and considered seriously."
Tight end Tommy Sweeney missed most of last season due to the lasting effects that COVID-19 can have on your body. McDermott said the tight end is doing well now and is excited to have him back.
"Tommy went through a tough situation last year," McDermott said. "He missed basically all of the season. If anyone needs a reason to or more information about whether or not to get vaccinated or not or COVID situation with Tommy is he missed all last season and it affected him for some time. He's off to a great start. He's in a good spot. He's worked his tail off, he's been here most of the offseason."
3. Weighing options for training camp
With training camp looming, the Bills are weighing their options of where to have it. McDermott would love to go to St. John Fisher for training camp, but the protocols in place make it a heavy lift. The team had it in Buffalo last season due to COVID-19, but they are doing their due diligence to look at both options.
"I'm a fan of going away to camp," McDermott shared. "The protocols are the protocols, and that's changes the complexion. It changes the weight, if you will, of the operation. Without going into too much detail, we are looking into it. We did send staff members up there to explore because we do believe in going away. We also have great fans not only in Western New York , but also in the Rochester area and people that come from all over to visit us there.
"It's a chance for us to connect with our fans and we certainly recognize that. We're trying to do our darndest to look at all the protocols and all the layers on this thing that it would take pull it off over there. We're going to continue to look into it."