Bills rookies develop chemistry in first on-field action

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Greg Rousseau #50. Rookie Minincamp, One Bills Drive, May 14, 2021. Photo by Sara Schmidle

Bills 2021 rookie minicamp is officially underway and on Friday, Buffalo's rookie class experienced their first practice in the NFL. The drafted rookies as well as the undrafted and tryout players were all in attendance to compete as they begin their NFL careers.

On a sunny day at One Bills Drive, first and second-round picks Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham lined up next to each other and worked with defensive line coach Eric Washington for the first time. Rousseau spoke with the media on Thursday and talked about the relationship he is building with Basham.

"It's been real cool, and he's a really cool dude," Rousseau said. "We've been learning from each other, and I'm just ready to get in there and learn from him. I'm sure we're going to keep on building our relationship, as we will with other players too. It's pretty exciting to have somebody play the same position as you and come in with you like same rookie class, so that's going to be pretty dope."

Scroll through to see the Bills rookies participate in 2021 Minicamp at One Bills Drive.

Basham came into to minicamp wanting to start from scratch and take everything in. During practice, the two worked off one another early in drills as they start to build chemistry with each other this offseason. Basham told the media that he is excited to learn and grow with Rousseau and thinks that they both bring versatility to the Bills defensive line.

"I think we both bring a lot to the table, being versatile players," Basham said via Zoom. "Having two of us come in at the same time, that can be a big help for us. We talked about every day just going over some stuff, building a relationship, and then finally seeing him yesterday, and everything kind of just clicking and talking a lot more now. So, hopefully, we'll be a lot more closer just because we're playing the same position."

With both Rousseau and Basham playing the same position, they will have each other to lean on when diving into the Bills playbook for the first time. The NFL playbook is one of the biggest hurdles for these rookies as they transition from college to the pros. Rousseau noted that the biggest difference between the two playbooks was the size but having someone to go through it with and taking it slow is the best way for him to understand all of the playbook.

"It's definitely different from a college playbook," Rousseau stated. "College playbooks are a lot smaller, I'd say. (They're) just a lot less complex, but it's really just a process of learning something here, learning something there, not trying to cram through information at once. Just taking it slow and learning day by day. I feel like that's how you really master the playbook.

Scroll through to see the Bills rookies as they report to One Bills Drive for the first time.

The position coaches had a big impact in Friday's minicamp practice as they had their first opportunity to work on the field with the rookies. Bills fifth-round pick Tommy Doyle had some quality reps during his drills at practice. He had the chance to meet some of his teammates before minicamp and now he is excited to build a relationship and learn from offensive line coach Bobby Johnson.

"Yeah, I mean he's a great coach and I'm just ready to learn from him," Doyle said. "We're already installing some things and getting ready for minicamp. Just to be able to learn from a guy like him who has been around the league for a while, he played offensive tackle himself, and I'm just really excited for it."

Another rookie that will get to work with coach Johnson is third-round pick, Spencer Brown. He is the tallest Bill on the roster and was easily recognizable on the practice field. Throughout the rookie minicamp, Brown has been trying to soak in as much information as possible and continue to make connections with his new teammates.

"I'm trying to go out there learn pretty much," Brown said during his media session. "I think the big thing is digesting the playbook and then being around the players again and building relationships with them. Like I said, Jack, Tommy and I all met at the airport, and we've been pretty much close since then. I think it's like an O-line thing. You throw random people that played O-line together, they'll mesh right away. Getting to know them more, as well as other teammates, and just going out there and playing again is what I'm looking forward to."

For sixth-round pick Damar Hamlin, he has been able to lean on his former college teammate Dane Jackson for advice on what life as a Bills rookie is like. Hamlin and Jackson played for four years together at Pitt, and they are as close as brothers. For as much as Dane told him about the Bills, nothing could have prepared Hamlin for the feeling of running out to the practice field for the first time as a pro.

"Jogging out to the fields, when we first started, was kind of like a surreal feeling," Hamlin explained. "That's when it kind of like hit, I haven't arrived yet because there's so much more work to do, so I like to keep that in perspective. But just knowing that I'm actually here, I can't take that for granted. I'm in a blessed position that I know a lot of people would want to be in. So, I just I cherished it and just running out on that field, that's what I like first hit me that I'm here and it's just time to work."

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