The Bills will be taking a couple of their training camp practices on the road against NFL competition this summer. The club announced they will be conducting joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Aug. 13 and 14 leading up to their preseason game in Charlotte on Aug. 16.
The Panthers hold their training camp at Wofford College, just over the state line in South Carolina. The two teams will hold a pair of practice sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday of their preseason game week before meeting in Buffalo's second preseason game Friday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Practices will begin at 9:25 am.
For general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott, they felt the time was right to add a dose of different competition to their training camp schedule.
"I think change of scenery is a benefit," said Beane. "These guys will have been going at each other all spring. We'll be about two weeks in with camp and will have played a preseason game, so to go against a new opponent will be an opportunity for our units to go against theirs. Their strengths on offense are different from our strengths, so it's something different for our defense to see. It's just a good opportunity to compete against guys who you haven't seen all the time and don't know all your moves."
Beane also said there was a desire to get their players in some heat down south in case they had any early season games in a warmer climate than Orchard Park in September.
"Sometimes we play some September games that are hot," he said. "It can be quite humid in New Jersey when we play there in Week 1 and 2. It usually is hotter there than here in terms of humidity."
There will be one practice session each over the two days at Wofford, and the strong prior relationship between Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and McDermott as well as Beane with Panthers general manager Marty Hurney made the arrangement an easy one.
"We had talks with Carolina early on and the established relationships we have with that organization helps. We're going to care about their players and they're going to care about ours. (Ron) Rivera is not going to allow melees to happen at practice, and we know Sean won't either. So we'll have a professional practice. Tempers might flare, but it won't be anything crazy that takes the fun out of them. So we should be able to hit the goals we're trying to meet with these."
As the Bills continue 2019 OTAs, check out photos of each of the 91 players on the team.
The Bills and Panthers left their joint practice agreement open ended beyond this summer, so there are no plans at this point to make it a reciprocal arrangement where the Panthers would come to St. John Fisher the following summer.
Beane admitted that joint practices weren't really the aim in year one under coach McDermott, but now the timing seemed right to work with another NFL club in the summer.
"I think in year one it's definitely all about yourself and establishing a foundation and not focusing on anything else," he said. "We talked about it in year two, but we just felt we weren't quite there and it wasn't the right situation to do it. We talked about it, but never felt we had the right timing or the right team. We did this for a lot of reasons. Familiarity helps in how they run their ship and how we run ours."
Upon returning from Carolina, the Bills will resume their preseason preparations at One Bills Drive for the remainder of the preseason.