1. Frank Gore and Ed Oliver praise fans in their first experience in New Era Field
Three hours before the start of the annual Return of the Blue and Red practice, Bills fans were tailgating in the parking lots. The love and devotion of Bills fans is well known and documented. To see thousands of people in the stands of New Era Field to watch practice on Friday night was exactly what Ed Oliver and Frank Gore expected.
“My boy Roscoe Parrish came here and told me how great the fans were,” Gore said. “He was right. Now it’s our time to keep making them happy.”
For Ed Oliver it was his first opportunity to play in front of fans at the stadium as he begins his rookie season.
“I look around and see a whole bunch of 91 jerseys and I haven’t even stepped on the field here,” Oliver said. “It just shows you how much the people in the community buy in and how much they embrace the players here.”
Oliver says he wasn’t surprised by the amount of fans there but was disappointed he didn’t get a chance to see the tailgating atmosphere. Friday’s crowd set the tone for what Oliver expects the rest of the season.
“The excitement here for just a couple thousand here tonight was incredible. I can’t wait to feel it here during the season,” Oliver said.
The Buffalo Bills were back at New Era Field on Friday, Aug. 2, for "The Return of the Blue & Red" night practice, presented by Bud Light.
2. Josh Allen takes his time leaving New Era Field
The last man on the field on Friday was quarterback Josh Allen. Allen spent over an hour signing autographs for the thousands of fans that filled the seats of New Era Field.
The quarterback has taken it upon himself to make sure that he signs as many autographs as he can because he remembers being a kid in the same situation. Allen described Friday as “awesome” to be the face of the Bills franchise.
“I just want to pay it forward and make sure that the fans that support me know how much I appreciate that,” Allen said. “Doing simple gestures like high fives of signing something means a lot.”
Allen loves being able to see kids in the crowd wearing his jersey and puts himself in his own shoes as a kid wearing his teammate Frank Gore’s San Francisco 49ers jersey.
“It is surreal,” Allen said.
3. Bills don’t want Kyle Williams to leave
It seems like it wouldn’t be a Bills training camp without Kyle Williams. Williams played 13 seasons with the Buffalo Bills and retired at the age of 36 this year. A mainstay on the defensive line and six-time pro bowl selection, Williams has been back at St. John Fisher helping out for the past week.
“Yea he’s working obviously,” general manager Brandon Beane said. “He’s been working with Ed [Oliver]. That was a point we talked about in the spring after we drafted him but he’s also working with some of the other young guys.”
Second-year defensive tackle Harrison Phillips has been seen attached to Williams hip, constantly trying to learn from the veteran. Williams has meant so much to the Bills group that Beane had to inform Williams’ wife of some new travel plans.
“I sent Kyle’s wife a text saying I know he was supposed to come home on Saturday but Terry Pegula told me to not let him out of here, so I don’t know when he’ll be back home,” Beane joked.
Beane credits current coaches like defensive line coach Bill Teerlinck for giving Williams free reign to coach and give a player’s perspective.
Williams still holds strong relationships with his teammates and everyone has been a sponge, including veterans like Jerry Hughes, Beane says.
“We can’t replace a Kyle Williams as a player in the locker room,” Beane said. “He’s going to do what he can from afar, and he’s invested. Most guys want to just go away from the team but Kyle’s told me that anyway we can use him, he’s here to help.”