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BILLS TODAY

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Bills Today: Bills Hall of Famer addresses team at practice

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1 - Bills Hall of Famer addresses team at practice

Bruce Smith is one of the most dominant players to ever play the game of football.

Throughout his nearly two-decade-long professional career, Smith recorded 1,075 tackles and 200 sacks. He’s still the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks, and his record likely won’t be broken anytime soon.

Smith found himself at his old stomping ground on Thursday, as he was scheduled to make an appearance at New Era Field. Once Smith told Bills head coach Sean McDermott that he was in town, the second-year coach asked the Hall of Famer to address his players at practice.

Smith was humbled by the opportunity.

“I had to come in town for an appearance for CDW, and the appearance was actually right here at the stadium,” Smith said. “I called Sean [McDermott] and told him I wanted to stop by, and he asked if I would speak to the team. I said, ‘Absolutely.’ And I just shared with them what it means to be a Bill.”

While speaking to the team, Smith stressed the importance of perseverance and a strong work ethic.

“Throughout my 19-year career, people would always ask, ‘What’s the secret? How did you do it?’ Well, the secret is there is no secret,” Smith said. “There’s no substitute for hard work, preparation, dedication and mastering your trade. While there are no secrets, I did give them tips on how to become a dominant player. How to make the game slow down. How you have the opportunity to level the playing field.”

Smith addressed the team after stretch for close to five minutes before he broke down the huddle and the players broke off into individual position drills Thursday.

2 - Shaq Lawson on growing up with the ‘incredible’ DeAndre Hopkins

When Buffalo’s defenders look at Texans’ wideout DeAndre Hopkins, they see a dynamic receiver who is undoubtedly one of the league’s best.

When Shaq Lawson looks at “Nuk” Hopkins, he sees an old friend.

“He’s an incredible athlete,” Lawson said of Hopkins. “We grew up together. I’ve known him as a special athlete. We played on the same high school team. So we’ve always been together.”

Both Lawson and Hopkins attended D.W. Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina. The two played with each other on the school’s football team, and helped the team win a state title. Hopkins, who played at both receiver and defensive back, was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in 2010. Lawson, who graduated two years later, was also a four-star recruit.

The career parallels don’t end there. Both Lawson and Hopkins committed to Clemson University, a school located just 10 minutes away from D.W. Daniel. The two would go on to achieve tremendous success with the Tigers. Hopkins was selected with the 27th pick in the 2013 draft. After recording 12.5 sacks as a junior, the Bills selected Lawson with the 19th pick in the 2016 draft.

Since breaking into the league, both Lawson and Hopkins have shown flashes of brilliance. Lawson has recorded six sacks over the past two seasons. Hopkins is coming off a 2017 campaign in which he caught 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Hopkins’ professional dominance has come as no surprise to Lawson.

“Nuk has been doing this since we were little kids,” Lawson said. “Spinning, palming the ball. His hands were always way bigger than everybody else’s. Him doing that with the ball, he’s been doing that since high school. Incredible player. It’ll be good to see him. We grew up together.”

3 - PFF: Bills’ defense one of NFL’s best

Since the second half of the Bills’ Week 2 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, their defense has been a brick wall.

Buffalo gave up just 65 net yards to the Chargers in the second half of that game. They continued their momentum into Week 3, limiting the Minnesota Vikings to just six points in a shocking victory. In Week 4, the unit found a way to limit Aaron Rodgers’ production, holding him to just one touchdown pass and recording an interception in Green Bay.

Buffalo’s defense constructed what was perhaps its best overall effort in Week 5, holding the Titans to just 221 net yards and keeping them out of the end zone in a 13-12 win. Many analysts credited the Bills’ win over Tennessee to the defense.

Buffalo’s defensive excellence has been recognized by Pro Football Focus. According to the outlet, the Bills’ defense is the league’s 10th best through five games. Buffalo has an overall grade of 76.5 thus far.

Per PFF, the Bills have been one of the league’s best teams in coverage this season, also having an overall grade of 76.5. Buffalo’s defensive backfield has led the way for the team in coverage thus far, as Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have overall grades of 77.7 and 70.9, respectively.

Tre’Davious White, PFF’s 2017 defensive rookie of the year, has been solid yet again in 2018. Through five games, White has allowed just seven receptions on 20 targets, good for a PFF grade of 68.0.

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