1. Dion Dawkins’ new mindset leads to earning captain designation
The Bills announced their captains for the 2019 season on Friday. They are:
Offense: Josh Allen, Dion Dawkins
Defense: Tremaine Edmunds, Lorenzo Alexander
Special Teams: Stephen Hauschka, Reid Ferguson
Dawkins, Edmunds and Ferguson are captains for the first time in their careers.
“It just means that I’m heading in the right direction,” Dawkins said. “I’m on a track and I’m trying to stay on track as long as I can. Captain is a great honor, but it doesn’t change anything. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Captains are voted on by the players, says head coach Sean McDermott.
Dawkins was set apart from his teammates thanks to a new mindset. He would be the first to admit he had a down year last season and never wants to be there again.
“You can't ever put doubt in people's eyes especially the management and the organization and I felt like the I did that last year and that feeling ate me up all offseason,” Dawkins said. “I never want that feeling ever again, but it just helps me every step of the way. Just kill or be killed. Just keep it pushing forward.”
2. Isaiah McKenzie and Micah Hyde are ready to step in the return game
Head coach Sean McDermott announced on Friday that pro bowl returner Andre Roberts will not suit up for Sunday’s game because of a quad injury.
Because of this the Bills have had to explore other options in the punt and kickoff return games.
Last year, most punts were returned by Isaiah McKenzie and he’s ready to fill the role if Heath Farwell calls his name.
“I’m always confident I can do my job,” McKenzie said. “Whatever the coaching staff wants me to do I can handle it.”
The Bills have two other options at punt returner as well. Micah Hyde returned punts every year when he was in Green Bay and Robert Foster has fielded them in practice.
“We’ll be fine back there,” Farwell said.
A coach may be hesitant to have a starter return kicks like Hyde, but the Bills are focused on winning.
“I think we want to win. So if it helps us win, I think as a unit we have to do it,” Farwell said. “And when I say as a unit I mean as a team. We’re going to put the best 11 guys out there regardless of anything if it helps us win on Sundays. If it’s better to keep him fresh and just play defense, we’ll do that as well. But ultimately the goal is to win on Sunday, and we’ll do whatever it takes.”
3. ESPN: How Buffalo can make the Super Bowl
Can the Buffalo Bills win the Super Bowl in 2019? Well, the answer is yes and here’s how ESPN’s Bill Barnwell sees it break down.
The Bills had a playoff-caliber defense in 2018, as Tre'Davious White & Co. overcame a slow start to finish second in DVOA. The offense didn't hold up its end of the bargain, finishing with the league's second-worst DVOA. The good news is that Buffalo returns every one of its key contributors on defense and it upgraded across the board on offense, adding as many as eight new starters around wide receiver Zay Jones, left tackle Dion Dawkins and second-year quarterback Josh Allen.
If the added talent sparks a dramatic improvement in Allen, the Bills should be a wild-card team. Winning the division probably would require some step backward from Brady, but if the Bills can somehow wrest home-field advantage from the Patriots and host a playoff game or two for the first time since 1996, Sean McDermott's team should be in great shape. The Bills are 9-1 at home in the postseason since the merger but just 3-13 away from Western New York.