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Bills Today: Jerry Hughes exhibiting confidence early on


1 - Jerry Hughes exhibiting confidence early on

After back-to-back 10 sack seasons in 2013 and 2014, Hughes has not reached the double-digit sack mark. However, those close to the former first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts believe that Hughes is a virtual lock to perform at a high level in 2018. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier noted that he has observed a higher level of confidence in Hughes.

"His energy level throughout this offseason but even more-so at this training camp, and his confidence level are extremely high," said Frazier. "I just feel like he's going to have a terrific season."

Coach Frazier also believes that offseason additions and improvements by some current players will benefit Hughes as he enters his ninth NFL season.

"With the addition of Trent [Murphy] and then Shaq [Lawson] coming on the way he is, it should take some of the attention away from Jerry," he said.

Production for Hughes has rarely ever been a question as he has posted at least four sacks in each of his five seasons in Buffalo. Coach Frazier again emphasized the importance of some of Hughes' newest teammates moving forward.

"Anytime you can get an inside push, it makes the edge rusher's job so much easier," said Frazier. "We didn't always get that a season ago, but the fact [is] that Star [Lotulelei] has the ability to be able to get an inside push for us, and we think Harrison [Phillips] will provide that as well."

With additional help on the front end, Hughes appears ready to boost his production to a level that Bills fans have yet to see.

2 - Frazier preaches consistency and simplicity for rookie DT Phillips

Prior to being selected in the third round, pick number 96, in the 2018 NFL draft; many scouts and media pundits believed that Phillips could be drafted as high as the first round. Fortunately for the Bills, and Bills super-fan Pancho Billa, Phillips fell to the Bills at a spot with tremendous value. Early on in camp, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier wants to put Phillips in situations in which he is confident the young defensive tackle can succeed.

"We'll see how he develops over time," said Frazier. "For right now, it's probably better to leave him at that spot [one-technique] and that's where he had a lot of success in college"

For any rookie entering the NFL, the expectations can be enormous and overwhelming. Conversely, Phillips seems to have taken an opportunistic approach to his first NFL training camp, routinely winning one-on-one battles at practice. Although he has impressed early on, coach Frazier reiterated the importance of allowing him to get comfortable before moving him around.

"I think for now, we can leave him at one position and let him progress and get some consistency," said Frazier.

There is no question that Phillips has the skillset to succeed in the NFL, and head coach Sean McDermott believes that the veterans on this Bills team, particularly Kyle Williams, will assist in the development of young and/or inexperienced players.

"He's a guy I count on a lot for connecting my message with the team, leading this football team," said McDermott of Williams.

Bills fans should expect to see Phillips as a routine rotational player, giving some well-deserved rest to both Williams and Star Lotulelei.

3. Bills sit in great spot financially

As big name players around the league are looking for new contracts, namely All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald of the Rams, the Bills' salary cap situation appears to be one of the best in the NFL. General manager Brandon Beane made it a point to shed unfavorable contracts upon his arrival; and in doing so, he has created a window for affordable success moving forward.

In 2018, the Bills have the 12th most cap space in the NFL. However, they have the most dead cap money on the books; or money being paid to a player not on the roster that counts against the team's salary cap.

Although a dead cap hit of just under $47 million dollars appears daunting to most, Beane has paved the way for 2019. After the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Bills will have no dead cap money on their books, an astonishing turnaround given that the next closest team in 2018 is $21 million dollars behind the Bills in that category.

The Bills project to have nearly $63 million dollars in cap space in before free agency in 2019, second only to the New York Jets. To make things even better, the Bills are projected to be the 15th youngest team in the NFL, younger than more than half of the league.

Whether Beane decides to lock up key contributors, sign difference making free agents, or a combination of both; the Bills appear to have one of the best salary cap situations in the NFL for 2019.

Photos from Day 4 of 2018 Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris.

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