With three weeks of training camp already in the books for the Bills the players have reached the dog days of their regular season preparations. That's why lining up against the Steelers on Wednesday and Thursday in Latrobe, PA at St. Vincent College will be a welcome change of scenery.
"Very excited about it," said EJ Manuel. "I know a bunch of teams have already had dual practices with other teams. I'm really looking forward to getting together with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm very good friends with Coach Tomlin. He's from the same area I'm from and I saw him a few weeks ago before I came back here. He told me whatever look I need on defense, he'll give it to us. It's going to be very competitive, but we'll try to treat it like three days of a game. Each day, even though it's a practice, we'll try to treat it like a game."
"It's definitely a change," said Nickell Robey. "It's a practice format, but it's something different. We'll be high energy and it'll be a high intensity practice."
The two teams will practice against one another on Wednesday from 3-5 pm and on Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Over the last three weeks Bills offensive players have come to know their defensive teammates inside and out and vice versa. So they're eager to get some different looks from the Steelers in the two days of practice work.
"We're tired of seeing the same people each and every day, we finally get to see somebody else," said Aaron Williams. "We get to see what our skill level is against another team and what people can do outside our comfort zone. It's going to be an exciting week."
"From being around each other (at camp) so much we've sniffed out each other's systems," said Robey of the Bills offensive and defensive players. "It's time to start going against some other opponents and see how much this offseason has paid off for us."
For Buffalo's coaching staff the practices are a prime opportunity to get some concrete evaluations on players who they may not have seen enough of to this point.
"We're looking forward to going against an organization that is a physical team, that is a tough team, a team that has won in the past," said head coach Doug Marrone. "I think we're excited about being able to compete with them. I think that will help our football team. We will gain a lot of good information on our players from those practices. That's how we're looking at it."
The two days of practice will be a lead in to the preseason game between the two clubs at Heinz Field on Saturday night with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.