The time is now for the Buffalo Bills and the players on this team understand that.
Since the loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, the players have been extra motivated to get back to work and prove they can be better this season. The Bills had a high attendance rate throughout OTAs which helped them hit the ground running to start off training camp. And the team looked like they had picked up right where they left off during the preseason. Veteran leader Micah Hyde understands how good this team can be and is chomping at the bit to start the season off right.
"I'm motivated, and I'm ready to go," Hyde said. "I'm on a mission. I want to do whatever I can to help this team win a championship."
Hyde was chosen as a captain by his teammates and it's the first time he's held that honor as a member of the Bills. Buffalo's core group of players have been together on this team for four or five seasons, and that continuity has been a big factor in the team's success. Cole Beasley is going into his third season with the Bills and has built up the mentality that they will score every time the offense is on the field. He feels more confident about this team than he has since he arrived in Buffalo.
"I've expressed to a few guys that I've never been on a team this talented before," Beasley stated. "That's saying a lot. I've been on some talented teams. … But as you get older and older, all that matters is getting the chip (championship). You stress that importance to the young guys and try to bring them along. But it really comes down to staying in the moment and taking advantage of each opportunity that comes."
With the week one slate of games fast approaching many national media outlets have begun to make their predictions for the 2021 season. Josh Allen has gotten some early MVP predictions, and some have predicted the Bills to make and win the Super Bowl. The players have paid no attention to this hype and aren't worried about the expectations made by the media.
"I think the only expectations are the expectations you put on yourself," Tremaine Edmunds stated. "No matter what the outside noise is, man, you've gotta continue just to grow. And you've got to stay with that dog mentality, and just continue to work on things."
"No matter what, this is a cut-throat business," Hyde said. "You've got to compete every single day. So whatever people are saying outside of these walls doesn't matter. We gotta show it each and every Sunday."
Even with the high aspirations that this team has, they all understand that they have to take it week to week and can't get ahead of themselves. Josh Allen has had a lot of time to prepare for this week one matchup against the Steelers. Allen is undefeated through his previous two meetings with Pittsburgh, and he knows this will be a good test early for this Bills team.
"It all starts Week 1," Allen stated. "It's a one week at a time approach and coach talks about our standard which is playoff-caliber. … It's all focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers and to be honest I couldn't tell you who we play next. It's been all them for a couple weeks now."
Here are a few additional notes from Bills practice on Wednesday.
The Allen to Beasley connection continues to get stronger
Both Josh Allen and Cole Beasley had career seasons last year. Beasley proved he could be a reliable target for his quarterback down the stretch. Throughout training camp, the two playmakers looked even more in sync and Beasley has seen a lot of growth from Allen early from year three to year four.
"I told Josh this the other day, he gets the ball to me way quicker now than he did in my first year out of any option routes that I run," Beasley explained after practice. "It's like I have a set route and he throws it, when I have multiple options. Whereas, when I first got here, he would wait a little bit and he wouldn't trust it because we just didn't have that much time together. But now, he's getting the ball quicker to me than any quarterback that I've been with."
Micah Hyde honored to lead this team
Micah Hyde was chosen as a captain by his teammates earlier this week as he enters his fifth season with the Bills. The veteran safety has been an integral player for this defense, and he hopes to continue to lead this team to success throughout the season.
"It's an honor for the guys to see me as a leader, Hyde said. "Just being in this locker room and entering year nine now, I've been around a lot of these guys for going on five years. It's a blessing to be in this organization and I definitely don't take it for granted. Being a captain here is awesome. I want to get to the next level and win a championship. Obviously, it starts with Sunday. But that's a long-term goal."
Scroll to see the top photos from practice as the Bills prepared to host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin praises Emmanuel Sanders toughness
Emmanuel Sanders was a third-round draft choice by the Steelers in 2010 and played in Pittsburgh for four seasons. His former head coach Mike Tomlin knows what type of player he is and has always been impressed by the style of football he plays.
"He doesn't get enough credit for his general football toughness," Tomlin said during a conference call. "I'm not talking about receiver things. He's wirey, strong. I think that's one of the core reasons why he's had the career that he's had and has done it as long as he has at such a high level. He is a football player first. He's a legitimate tough guy and stronger than you think he is."