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Bills Today: Former Panthers are back in familiar territory at Wofford College

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1. Former Panthers are back in familiar territory at Wofford College

On Monday the Bills will head to Spartanburg, South Carolina for two joint practices with the Carolina Panthers ahead of their second preseason game on Friday night. Head coach Sean McDermott will be back in a familiar setting at Wofford College practicing against his former team. McDermott spent six seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Panthers.

“It will be nice and a great opportunity to see some old friends,” McDermott said. “It was a place that helped me in so many ways with great people and a great organization. Wofford is a neat campus, very similar to St. John Fisher in terms of the pride that they take in what they do down there. That said, we have work to do and that’s why we are going down there. I’m interested to watch and I’m excited to watch our team grow through this experience.”

Former Panther Kurt Coleman played with Carolina from 2015 to 2017. For Coleman, going back to Wofford means seeing his family.

“I get to see a lot of the guys that I played several years with, that I’ve grown very close with,” Coleman said. “But, I’m just more excited that I get to see my family those several days down there. Obviously, this is another great opportunity. I’ve always thought joint practices when done right, it’s very productive for both teams.”

Coleman knows the offense well and thinks it will be a great chance for the defense to improve.

“Iron sharpens iron and you know they have a good offense,” said Coleman. “They have a good scheme that they do and that they run with Norv Turner and I think it’s going to be a great test for our defense.”

2. John Brown remembers former wide receivers coach Darryl Drake

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the passing of wide receiver coach Darryl Drake. Since 2004, Drake spent time coaching with the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and Steelers. Prior to coaching in the NFL, he spent 20 years coaching in college football.

Drake is a coach who made an impact on John Brown’s football career. Drake was the wide receiver coach for the Cardinals from 2013 to 2017 and coached Brown while he played for Arizona from 2014 to 2017. Brown recalls Drake driving to Homestead, Fla., to work him out before the draft.

“Coach Drake, he meant a lot to me,” Brown said. “It was crazy, when I was coming out [of college] actually, he drove down to Homestead to work me out. He was always in my corner ever since that day he saw me work out.”

Drake remained in his corner during the 2014 NFL draft.

“Word got out that Arizona didn’t want to draft me in the third round,” Brown said. “He [Drake] stood up and told them that this guy [Brown] will be gone if we don’t get him right now.”

Brown went on to have his career-high 1,003-yard season on 65 receptions in 2015 with Drake as his position coach.

"He was a great impact," Brown said. "Just making me believe that no matter what, you keep fighting, even when I was going through my illness he was still in my corner. He was there for me."

Brown says Drake always treated him like family. As Drake’s family goes through a very tough time, Brown wants to be present in their lives.

"That’s a loving family," said Brown. "No matter what, I’m here for them. Here for the family and everything."

3. New Bills are ready to compete

The Bills have signed four players and made one trade in the last three days. Buffalo announced the release of offensive linemen Nico Siragusa and guard Vladimir Ducasse. The Bills placed defensive tackle Robert Thomas and cornerback EJ Gaines on injury reserve. Three of the four who signed on Saturday and Sunday play in the trenches – offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney, defensive tackle Roderick Young and defensive end Sam Acho.

Rhaney’s most recent stop was with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the AAF’s Memphis Express. He was a seventh round pick by the Rams in 2014 and spent time with the Jaguars (2017) and Redskins (2017-2018).

Young was an undrafted rookie who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars during free agency. He spent mini-camp with the Jaguars before being placed on the injured reserve list. Young graduated from North Texas University where he totaled 134 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, one pass defended and one fumble recovery in 48 games.

Acho spent the last four seasons with the Chicago Bears and was originally a fourth round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. Acho spent four seasons with the Cardinals (2011-2014).

Rhaney says it has been a crazy last 24 hours but is thrilled to be in Buffalo.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Rhaney said. “I’m blessed they gave me a call, letting me come workout and letting me compete.”

For Rhaney, there is a familiar face on the offensive line in Ty Nsekhe.

“I’ve been off and on with the Redskins, so I’m familiar with Ty,” Rhaney explained. “Me and Ty get along pretty well. When they gave me a call for a workout, I gave Ty a call and let him know I was coming up.”

Rhaney said his first and only priority right now is understanding the playbook.

“The biggest thing for me is just getting the plays down. To get in and compete at a high level, play fast and not think as much and be physical. Flash on film so coach can see what I can do.”

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