Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and left tackle Dion Dawkins spoke with the media on Tuesday to share their thoughts on the first week of training camp and more. Here are six things we learned from their time with the media.
1. How the defense can stay on top
The Bills defense approaches the 2020 season looking to maintain their reputation as one of the best defenses in the NFL. Buffalo's defense finished third last season allowing an average of 298.3 yards per game. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said, as the defense prepares for Week 1, it's important to remember this defense is different than the last.
"I think any time you're at the top you have a target on your back, right?" Edmunds said. "It's really about us just coming out every day and getting better. It's as simple as that. We have a different team, it's not the same defense as we had last year. I think guys have to understand that first, and I think that's where it starts at.
"Each year is going to bring new opportunities, and each year is going to bring new challenges, so we just have to take advantage of every opportunity that we have this year. And then, the number one opportunity is what we do here at the building in that facility. That's working on our craft and coming out every day with the mindset to get better. From there, everything will take care of itself."
Edmunds said the trip several defensive teammates took to Virginia to train together was very helpful to the new players.
2. What was different about Edmunds' offseason
Edmunds spends every offseason with his two brothers who play for the Steelers — Terrell and Trey. In an offseason where OTAs and preseason games were cancelled, many players looked at the time as lost opportunities. For Tremaine, it was his best offseason yet.
"I think I would say it was the best because we had so much time," Edmunds said. "Not just with them, I had my mom out there and she was just killing us. But it was all for the better, though. We were out there with a mission to get better."
Edmunds said the trio didn't let the questions surrounding the season due to COVID-19 impact the way they trained. Instead, they pushed each other to have an offseason full of solid work.
"It was a lot of dog days out there," Edmunds said. "A lot of days where we were like, 'We got this again today? Or, I'm tired today.' It's just about the motivation now. You have to think about what motivates you. And truth be told, we motivated each other out there. When one goes down, the other two look to build [the others] up. I think that's a good thing that I enjoyed. I took full advantage of it because I had people out there with the same mindset as me, and that was to get better."
3. Why A.J. Klein will help the defense
With walkthroughs taking place this week, position groups are finally getting to work with each other for the first time in person. Edmunds has had a couple days around new linebacker A.J. Klein and thinks he's a great addition to the room due to his intelligence.
"With him being in the system with Coach McDermott in Carolina, just a guy that you can come to with questions," Edmunds explained. "He may or may not have the answer, but nine times out of 10 he will because he's a smart guy. Just listening in on him, listening to the type of questions he asks, and just feeling his presence in the meetings, it's good. I'm excited to work with him. As the weeks go on, just get out there and practice full speed with him. Developing that dynamic that we need as a linebacker group."
Scroll through to see the top photos from Bills walk-through on Monday, Aug. 3.
4. Offensive line extremely sad for Feliciano
The Bills announced last week that offensive lineman Jon Feliciano would be out indefinitely due to a torn pectoral injury. If healthy, all five starters on the offensive line from last season would have returned this season. Dawkins said he and his teammates are bummed they won't have him around for the beginning of the season.
"It's extremely sad that Jon got hurt working out," Dawkins said. "As we all know, that is a part of football. Things happen off the field and things happen on. Jon was a true piece to our line, but I think the GM and coach McDermott did a great job last year [finding] depth. And because Jon got hurt it's not like an ultimate panic. We care, we love him. Jon is going to come back stronger and better than ever."
New offensive linemen who can add depth include players like Daryl Williams and Evan Boehm
5. Dawkins relieved entering year 4
In his fourth year, the starting left tackle finally gets a familiar looking offensive line. Even with Felicano's injury, the offensive line returns four starters and several backups from last season. Dawkins feels the continuity is a relief to the offensive line.
"Going into it, that is the biggest relief of it," Dawkins said. "Just because we know what to expect. We are a step ahead in the playbook. We are a step ahead in getting that bonding feel. We don't have to rush around and try to play catch up or trying to get to know exactly the person who is next to one another. I think that that's where we're kind of in the plus because OTAs you do a lot of team bonding things. And because this is pretty much the same team. We are just a little bit in the plus for that."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group feels like there wasn't too much lost time because of their familiarity in the offense and with each other.
6. Offensive line has a new swagger
Dawkins has seen the Buffalo Bills make improvements each year he has been a part of the team. As general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott enter their fourth year in Buffalo, expectations are set at a high level. Beane is expecting playoff caliber practices every time they step on the field. Although the team lost in the playoffs last year, Dawkins said the offensive line has a new feel.
"We have a swagger about us, but we still have that underdog mentality," Dawkins said. "We honestly don't care about any of that hype. We know what we have to do day in and day out. Honestly we all know that this will be our hardest year yet because there's a giant target on us."
Dawkins said he thinks this line has the right pieces to have the type of success they want.