1. ESPN votes Ed Oliver as the team's MVP of training camp
ESPN’s NFL Nation chose their training camp MVPs for all 32 teams and ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques named Ed Oliver the training camp MVP for the Bills.
The rookie reportedly had a “long way to go” before the Bills began training camp, but he’s picked things up quickly ever since. Oliver inserted himself into the starting lineup almost immediately after the full pads came on and held his own against All-Pro Quenton Nelson in the first preseason game. At this rate, he’ll be the interior force Buffalo needs to jump-start the 26th-ranked pass rush from 2018
On One Bills Live, CBS Sports’ Andrew Catalon who calls preseason games for the Bills said going against Nelson in the Colts game was a great learning opportunity for Oliver.
“I think that’s a great way to start your career to go against one of the best in the NFL, to get a taste of it here, that’s what the preseason is for,” Catalon said. “I think it will really help Ed Oliver as we progress forward."
2. Matt Milano predicted to be Buffalo's breakout player by SB Nation
SB Nation’s Stephen White says linebacker Matt Milano will be this year’s breakout player for the Bills. Milano is heading into his third season with the Bills—he had 78 tackles and three interceptions in 13 games last season before spending the remainder of the season on the sidelines due to injury.
White believes Milano can grow into the type of player Thomas Davis was for the Panthers under Sean McDermott’s coaching as Carolina’s defensive coordinator.
Matt Milano is supposed to be the Bills’ version of Davis, an off-the-ball linebacker who blows up running plays, blitzes well, can cover his ass off. Milano isn’t at Davis’ level yet, but he isn’t far off, judging from last year’s film. He may not be the athlete Davis is, but Milano is developing into a beast when it comes to making plays.
Milano was a fifth round pick by the Bills in 2017, playing college ball at Boston College. Listed as 6-0 and 223 pounds, White says he may be overlooked due to his size--he sees someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to get a player on the ground.
I love the way Milano is often patient while he is deciphering the blocking scheme, then goes 0-to-100 in a heartbeat as soon as he has diagnosed the play. I saw it time and again on his tape last year. Even when Milano was hesitant at the outset of a play, he would still react quickly enough to fill the right gap and either penetrate the backfield or meet the runner in the hole. When Milano wasn’t able to get to the ball carrier, his penetration often forced the play to one of his teammates.
White thinks in season number three, Milano can rack up more than 100 tackles and add to his sack total.
The more Milano has played, the more comfortable he has looked with his zone drops, too, and I expect him to take another step forward this year. In particular, I believe he can get better at flipping his hips on deeper routes. He appeared to improve on that aspect last year during the season, and the more he continues to grow, the more chances he will have to make plays on the ball. He has the potential to make opposing quarterbacks scared to ever throw up the seam.
3. How newly acquired OL Ryan Bates adds versatility to o-line
Against the Carolina Panthers on Friday, new offensive lineman Ryan Bates played 51 snaps at center, which equated for 74% of the game. Bates was traded to the Bills on Aug. 9 from Philadelphia for defensive end Eli Harold. The offensive lineman signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in 2019.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said he was impressed with Bates in his first game.
“I think he did a good job,” Daboll said. “That’s obviously a tough position to play up front. Again, I’ll give credit to Bobby [Johnson], Heff [Terry Heffernan] and Wendy [Ryan Wendell]. You get these new guys, whether it’s trades or signings, and you have to get them up to speed as quickly as you can. They did a good job with him and credit to the kid, he’s a guy who can play all five positions. He did a really nice job, I’m glad we have him.”
Bates is getting third-team practice reps at center and has lined up at guard and tackle in his first week. His versatility is an attractive asset to the Bills as they continue to shift the line to find their best five.