1. Despite COVID obstacles, the Bills' standard remains high
As the Bills began training camp, coaches and players quickly realized there are many added obstacles this season to stay safe. Just because there are several protocols in place doesn't mean the team's standard will change.
"I'm not lowering my standards, and I don't expect anyone in this building to be lowering their standards," McDermott told media during a Zoom call. "What I've seen so far honestly is an unbelievable display of a standard in our building with the effort that's been put in by our ops staff. From leadership on down we've done a great job, they've done a great job of getting our building ready. I've been very impressed with the standard that I've seen to this point, and I expect us to carry that through."
McDermott explained to media the he won't let the rust of not being together for an extended amount of time get in the way of their high level of expectations. Bills general manager Brandon Beane agreed with McDermott and expects playoff caliber practices once they hit the field.
"We have to still hold ourselves to a high standard," Beane said. "Sean and I aren't going to sit here and say, 'It was the COVID year, we didn't make the playoffs. So be it.' Nothing has changed here. We expect playoff caliber practices once we get to that point. It's our job to get this roster ready to go when we open up here against the Jets in five weeks or so. That's why the pressure is on us all to stay healthy and to do things right, so that we can have the best 53 guys out there and not have 10 guys on the COVID list come mid-September."
2. One Bills Drive prepares to host entire team for first time
Bills players and staff members have gone to great lengths just to make sure everyone can enter the building. This process involved staggered reporting dates starting with rookies, then quarterbacks and injured players and ending with the veterans. The team had to pass multiple tests and a physical to enter the building. They will continue with testing, while following many other COVID protocols the NFL has in place. On Monday, all players can enter the facility.
"Starting tomorrow we are going to have up to 80 players in our facility," Beane explained. "So there's going to be more people around, more people that could enter those close contact areas within six feet and things like that. We're going to have to step our game up even more, starting tomorrow when everyone's in here."
The Bills have had five players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and chose to host meetings virtually for a period of time late last week to minimize the risk of the virus spreading. Beane and McDermott are prioritizing safety and would rather send the team home than have the virus spread if a few players test positive.
"We want to win here," Beane said. "There's no doubt. You know how competitive we are. We want to do everything. But the first goal to winning is keeping everyone here safe and healthy and their families because people are going back home. The last thing I would want to hear, and I know Sean would echo this, is that someone got it here and took it home and gave it to a wife, a kid, a grandparent, whoever. And so that's probably the biggest stress I have right now."
3. Peer leadership a vital piece to success this season
The Bills held a team meeting last week where Sean McDermott addressed the importance of being safe at the facility and at home. McDermott wore a mask the whole meeting to show how critical it is to wear a mask. Beane said during the meeting some of the veteran leaders spoke up to echo McDermott.
"We've got to find a way to keep ourselves healthy and it's on us all," Beane said to local media on a Zoom call. "It's on us to hold each other accountable and make sure we're not doing those (unsafe) things. I think our veteran leaders--peer pressure, peer leadership is probably the best. I know some of those guys spoke up on a call the other day, a Zoom call. They did a great job of stressing to everyone on the call what we have to do this season, and we can't let our guard down. So I think we have great leadership. And I know Sean will lean on those guys to help hold each other accountable."
McDermott said it's on him, Beane and the leaders to do the best they can to listen and control the controllable while moving the team forward and providing hope to the community.