Bills head coach Sean McDermott met with the media via Zoom on Wednesday for the final time before the Bills report to One Bills Drive for training camp in July. Here are five things Bills fans should know about the team before it heads into summer break.
1. McDermott plans to 'find a way'
The NFL has recently released an extensive list of rules and procedures for clubs to follow in order to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 within their facilities. McDermott explained the protocols may present some obstacles, but the team will find a way to stay productive within the rules.
"There's certainly some challenges out there," McDermott said. "The protocol is the protocol, however one thing we have on our side at this point is some time. We've got some time on our side. I think the other thing is our approach at the Bills. I'll speak on just the Bills, our approach is that we're going to do our best to find a way, to find a solution and to make sure we do things the right way."
McDermott said he and his staff are working long hours to make sure they can meet all of the NFL's protocols come camp. One thing McDermott did on Tuesday was a walk-through at One Bills Drive for two to three hours with the operations team to figure out how they can use the space efficiently while following the NFL's guidelines.
2. Bills able to come together in a virtual setting
As the virtual offseason wraps up, McDermott knows his team, as well as every other NFL team, missed out on some valuable on-field reps due to the cancellation of minicamps. However, the head coach is proud of what his team has accomplished in the virtual landscape.
"I think it's been to me a reflection on what we're capable of sometimes a lot more than what we think we're capable of, right?" McDermott said. "It's a great example of that and to sit here now, if you would of asked me would we have been able to get this done back I guess four or five months ago? To execute what we've been able to execute at the level that we've been able to execute it at. I would have said that's going to be a very heavy lift and it has been.
"That said, it's been to me just incredible to watch our team come together from not just our players, our players being one of them, but the staff and the support that we get from our IT department, everyone in our building has had to do things just like you have to make what used to be easy become reality now. I think that's been really cool to watch the human spirit at work, not only in our building but also in our community as well."
3. McDermott will support his players
With the 2020 season right around the corner, McDermott said there have been many ongoing conversations about players choosing to protest and kneeling during the anthem. Due to the state of our country with the recent murder of George Floyd and protests to fight racial injustice, McDermott wants to support his players.
"If you look back at how we've handled prior experiences, how we've handled it in the last couple of months here, we are always going to support our players," McDermott explained. "We're always going to respect their position on things. Then we're also going to do our part in listening and trying to educate ourselves. And following it up with love, that's nothing new. From me to you guys that I'm communicating and answering your question, I think that's the right way to go about things. That's what we're all about. No hidden agendas. You know we're trying to do things the right way and it starts with respect and ends with love."
4. New leaders emerge from the offseason program
McDermott has said many times that a key to the team's success will always be their player-driven leadership. With the retirement of Lorenzo Alexander, a strong leader in the locker room, it's time for new leaders to emerge. McDermott named a few players who he thinks have stepped into a leadership role this offseason.
"Mario Addison has come in as a new player and really demonstrated good quality leadership," McDermott said. "You're seeing some other players, Jon Feliciano, who was here with us, really step up his leadership. Two [players] on both sides of the lines in this case. Really great to see Jordan Poyer, who I think is having a good offseason, really help in that aspect as well. Reid Ferguson is a guy that [at] a position as a long snapper, you say 'coach, hey what really?' Yeah I think that that's cool to see where guys have it, and they're able to work on developing themselves as leaders as well. That's been fun and exciting to watch some of these guys step up their leadership."
5. Bills have a plan in place should a player test positive for COVID-19 upon return
The NFL has a long list of protocols in place to minimize the spread of the coronavirus , but that doesn't mean the virus is completely avoidable. McDermott is confident the team can overcome a set-back of a positive test due to the plans they have in place.
"I think what we have to take the mindset of is really more so, yes confident, but at the same time that we have plans, we have contingency plans in place," McDermott said "Just based on how things have been going in our country, there's probably a pretty good chance this could come up here in Buffalo. And the better question is how are we going to respond? And what is our plan? And so, there's really a lot of the conversations around, again as we look at our total and thorough plan, not just on the field or off the field, but now asking those questions."
McDermott emphasized the importance of an open line of communication when it comes to plans, symptoms, reporting, testing and more.
"We've got to make sure we're ready to go and so obviously that makes you communicate and makes you over-communicate," McDermott said. "It's definitely unique in terms of preparing, but we've got smart people in this building. And so we've all got to get, as I mentioned earlier not to sound redundant, we've all got to do our job and be ready to go. That's why these next coming weeks may not be as normal as they typically are year to year. And so we've got to be making sure we're staying up on all the information and do the best we can."