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Bills OTA Notebook | Bobby Babich exactly where he wants to be, Von Miller practicing without knee brace 

Buffalo Bills Organized Team Activity, June 6, 2024 at One Bills Drive.
Buffalo Bills Organized Team Activity, June 6, 2024 at One Bills Drive.

The Bills are finishing up the final week of OTAs before moving onto mandatory minicamp next week. Today's focus was on Buffalo's defense with defensive coordinator Bobby Babich, LB Von Miller, DE Greg Rousseau and DT Ed Oliver all speaking with the media.

Here's what we learned from Week 3 of Bills OTAs:

Babich 'couldn't be happier' to handle DC role

Bobby Babich used the term 'pretty hectic' to describe the early part of his offseason. After the Bills were bounced from the playoffs, the coaching carousel around the league was in full swing — and Babich's services were in demand by a handful of teams for a defensive coordinator position, with Buffalo among those in pursuit.

When the Bills elected to officially offer Babich the promotion from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator, Babich knew he was meant to continue his coaching journey in Buffalo.

"In the end, I had to make a decision that was best for my family and myself and obviously ended up exactly, probably where I thought it would play out if you were gonna ask me, and couldn't be happier," he said Tuesday.

When players heard that the energetic 40-year-old Babich was getting a promotion and staying in Buffalo, they were ecstatic to get to work.

"He's always had really great things to say in front of the defense and now it's his full-time job," LB Von Miller said. "And he's more than capable of that job."

Babich has had a steady rise in the Bills coaching ranks since getting hired in 2017 as an assistant DBs coach. He spent four seasons as the team's safeties coach and the last two as the linebackers coach. Babich played defensive back for North Dakota State, so coaching DBs felt like second nature to him.

"Being in the defensive backfield is something that I truly love and I got into coaching overall having grown up in a coaching family to help young men become better football players," he said.

Babich went on to explain that stepping out of his comfort zone to coach the linebacker group the last two years turned out to be two of the most important seasons for his growth as a leader.

"It forced me to grow into and reach out to people that have coached that (LB) position that I'm not familiar with, and really dive in headfirst and spend a lot of time trying to figure out what would work for the way that I would want to structure things in the end to help the Bills. So obviously, I think that was a tremendous growth experience. You get closer to the front, you learn all the operation and execution at that level versus the secondary," he shared.

Those experiences add up to a defensive coordinator who knows there's so much more growing to do as he puts his stamp on Buffalo's defense.

"I'm vulnerable enough to say that I'm as prepared as I can possibly be and I'm going to continue to learn every day, every part of this process," Babich said.

Miller 'feeling great' while practicing without knee brace

For the first time since tearing his ACL during the Bills 2022 Thanksgiving game, Von Miller has finally been able to shed his knee brace while participating in OTAs.

"That's something I could not do last year," Miller said following Tuesday's practice.

As Miller progresses throughout the offseason team workout plan — something else he was unable to partake in at full strength a year ago — he shared that staying on top of his health has been a priority.

"I have continued to grind and continue to work on my knee," Miller said. "And so far I've been feeling great."

The 35-year-old edge rusher believes that the way he felt in Buffalo's last three games of the year are an indication that he'll be able to get out to a much better start to the season when September rolls around.

"I hate that it waited all the way to that point, but that's just what it took," Miller admitted. "Just been trying to use that as a springboard into the season."

Added Bobby Babich, "There was a couple plays in there (last season) where you were like, okay, I see Von."

Scroll to see the best photos from the Buffalo Bills Organized Team Activity in Orchard Park, NY.

First impressions of Olympic gold medalist turned NFL defensive tackle

When Von Miller showed up for practice this week, he noticed a new teammate's name next to his locker. It was that of 24-year-old Gable Steveson, a gold medal-winning Olympic wrestler making the transition to NFL defensive tackle.

"Right when we signed him he texted me and was like, 'I'm going to be on your hip'," Miller said. "It didn't really hit me until we're in there."

The Bills made the signing of Steveson official on Friday and the rookie has been on the practice field this week trying to soak up all he possibly can. Having a steep learning curve trying to pick up a professional sport that he's never played before, it will require effort from both Steveson and the Bills coaching staff to get him up to speed.

"We are going to start at ground zero," Babich said. "Obviously, there's some, whether you want to call it physical tools, athletic traits, things that hopefully they translate for him."

Following Tuesday's practice, head coach — and fellow former wrestler — Sean McDermott worked with Steveson off to the side on the field going through technique. Early impressions from teammates are that they can see a lot of athletic traits from the 6-foot-1, 265-pound rookie.

"He moves well, I ain't gonna lie," added Ed Oliver. "He uses his hands well."

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