Time is a valuable commodity in the NFL. Right now the Bills are using this period in time to build cohesion among the players on the roster. The team is entering its third week of the OTAs all but about 10 players attended Tuesday's open practice to the media. Throughout the spring, players and coaches have built relationships in-person – something they were not able to do last offseason.
The Bills have a lot of continuity when it comes to the roster and members of the coaching staff returning but that familiarity with each other can only go so far. The coaches are using this time to make sure everyone on the team knows what the expectations are so they can get off to a fast start when training camp rolls around.
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll talked with the media before Tuesday's practice and noted they are going to have to put in a lot of work and effort into the small details to be ready for what challenges a new season brings.
"The reality of it is, it's not the same team," Daboll stated. "Do we have certain players that are the same? Absolutely. Cole and Stef and Josh, Mitch and Feliciano. There's a lot of the same guys, but there's also 15 new people, so when you put everybody together in a room, you don't know how everybody's going to react when things aren't great, you don't have a great practice, you miss a pass. You have to build those relationships because at the end of the day, that's the business we're in, we're in a relationship business, figuring out how guys work. Do they respond better to tougher criticism? Less? How they work together. You've got to gel as a team and this is the start of what we're trying to do, just trying to gel as a group more than anything."
Scroll through to see the best photos from Week 3 of Bills OTAs.
One new member of the Bills who is fitting in well with the team is running back Matt Breida. He's going into his fifth season in the NFL and brings experience to the Bills running back room. Devin Singletary, who led the team in carries and yards last season has learned a lot from Breida in the short time the two have worked together and is glad he's a part of the team.
"He's a true pro," Singletary said. "That's the first thing that you see, how he carries himself off the field, and how he goes about his business on the field. And I think he was a great addition to our team, let alone our backfield as well. Yeah, so he fits in perfectly I would say."
With restrictions being lifted around the country, these NFL players have been able to get back to their normal training routines with their personal trainers. This offseason, Singletary added more muscle to his frame, and he feels more confident mentally and physically heading into year three.
"This offseason has been great," Singletary added. "Without COVID, I'm basically able to get back, everybody's able to get back to regular training, whether it's lifting weights or being with your trainer. I feel that plays a big part … I feel like I got stronger or whatnot. That's always the goal to try to basically be better than you were last year. So, I added in that aspect, and I feel great going into year three."
Like Singletary, teammate Harrison Phillips has also been hard at work this offseason. Phillips has been coming back from an ACL tear he suffered in 2019. He has been rehabbing at the team facility all offseason and is starting to feel like his old self again.
"I definitely feel a lot closer to that. You hear all the time it's mainly two years removed from a significant injury like that, that the player is truly their selves. I'm just counting the blessings every day. I'm working my [butt] off doing everything I can. This is a very important year for the Buffalo Bills. It's a very important year for myself. Like I said, I'm just working. All I'm doing is just working as hard as I can to come back even better than I was in any previous year I've had in the NFL."
Phillips is glad to see a big player turnout for OTAs as it can only help the team reach the goals they have for this season. With young players and some new faces on both sides of the ball, he knows that extra time together can help the new players learn the championship mindset that this team has.
"Well, I think one of the benefits of people being around is the camaraderie and building a team," Phillips stated. "I think that's a good thing and then especially for young players, being able to experience the playbook for the first time and some of these second-year players didn't have this last year. So just familiarity with our system and the way that the Buffalo Bills communicate what our terminologies are things like that are probably the biggest benefits."