1. Farwell: A classic training camp matchup
Bills special teams coordinator Heath Farwell spoke to media on Sunday over Zoom and addressed the kicker battle between Stephen Hauschka and rookie Tyler Bass. Farwell said in practice the team is implementing several different scenarios to create competition during a shortened offseason. He added the two bring different qualities to the table, but have managed to make each other better through the battle.
"It's a classic training camp matchup," Farwell explained. "You have a veteran kicker that's made some big huge kicks in the playoffs and even throughout the regular season of his career. And he's still doing it at a high level. Then you have this young kid coming in that's hungry, that's competitive, that's trying to take his job. So it's a great matchup. It's been fun to watch. Every day it's cool to be out there with them, and they both bring different things to the team that can help us win."
Another way Farwell is evaluating the contest is by switching the holding duties between both punters—Corey Bojorquez and Kaare Vedvick.
"We're switching holders bi-weekly," Farwell said. "So that's been cool to the dynamic of working with the two punters/holders and getting a feel for how they work together. It's been really a lot of fun to watch that competition. I think they both have gotten better because of it. The competition just brings out the best in both of them. Steve [Hauschka] has done it for years. Every year they bring in another kicker whether it's us or in Seattle, wherever he's at and he beats him out. It's something he's very accustomed to. He loves the competition, so this is no different for him."
2. Taiwan Jones brings leadership to special teams room
Farwell wasn't on the Bills coaching staff the last time Taiwan Jones was on the Bills in 2017 and 2018, but Farwell explained he hoped they could get Jones back to Buffalo because of what he adds to special teams. Through team Zoom meetings and training camp, Farwell thinks Jones brings versatility and leadership to the special teams room.
"He's a fantastic gunner," Farwell said. "With him and Siran [Neal] on the outside, we have two of the best combo gunners in the league. I think the other thing he brings to the table, what I really like, is his ability to play the jammer position on punt return. You don't find that very often from a running back position, so him playing punt return and all the other phases that he does.
"His leadership has been fantastic. He's really taken the leadership role here. Everyone was excited to get him back here that knew him. A guy like myself who watched him on tape a million times was just hoping to get him back here, and to have him here, he has been fantastic. I love him in the room, love him on the field, practices hard, does everything right. He's just a veteran presence that can be a big influence on the whole group."
Scroll to see the top shots from Buffalo's walk-through on Wednesday, Aug. 12.
3. How Andre Roberts views his role on the Bills
Bills return specialist and wide receiver Andre Roberts came to the Bills to expand his role on offense. Roberts is a two-time Pro Bowler and an 11-year veteran who averaged 26.6 yards on kick returns in 2019. He caught three passes last year for 20 receiving yards last season. Roberts understands his primary role as a returner, but has goals to expand his role as a receiver this year.
"My role is exactly the same," Roberts explained. "My idea of it is exactly the same. I come in every year, feeling the same way. Obviously I'm a returner, and I want to be the best in the league at that. But at the same time, I want to carve out a role in offense. They want me to know every position, so if I do go in there I can step up and make a play. I know my role as a returner, but I fight every single day at the receiver position to make my mark."
In a talented and crowded wide receiver room, Roberts explained it hasn't been tough to get on the same page because the group has great chemistry.
"It's fun," Roberts said. "Stef [Diggs] jumped right into the Zoom meetings. Meeting him in person, he's one of the guys. So it's been fun. You can see the talent that we have out there. Just have to make sure we put it together and work hard to put it together for Sunday's."