1. New cornerbacks adding competition and depth
Whether playing outside or at the nickel spot, new free agent additions Kevin Johnson and E.J. Gaines will be sure to make their presence known. The two NFL vets are battling second-year players Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson for their roles on Sean McDermott’s defense.
Kevin Johnson was a standout during OTAs and minicamp. A first-round pick in 2015, Johnson flashed his potential getting his hands on multiple footballs during practices.
Johnson is trying to prove himself after struggling through injuries with the Houston Texans. Johnson only appeared in one game last season and the Texans decided not to extend their former draft pick after four years. At St. John Fisher, Johnson will have a fresh start.
“I’m just taking everything one day at a time,” Johnson said. “I believe in myself and just come out here trying to get better every single day.”
“Collectively this is the best cornerback group we’ve had since I’ve been here. When you have four good corners on a team you’re destined for success.” Third-year cornerback Tre'Davious White
Gaines, similarly to Johnson, has issues staying on the field because of his health. Gaines spent 2017 with the Bills and went to Cleveland last season. Gaines suffered an injury in each season but when working with the likes of Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White in 2017 it was one of his most productive seasons.
Gaines is showing the same flashes he did in a Bills uniform two years ago. Through the first two days of training camp he’s recorded an interception, a tipped ball leading to an interception and numerous pass breakups while rotating in with the first and second teams on the inside and outside.
“I enjoy coming out here and competing with these guys,” Gaines said. “They’re all having fun, no hard feelings towards anybody. Everybody’s expecting each other to make plays and get excited for everybody, I think that’s the best way to go about it.
Roles will be decided throughout camp but expectations for the cornerback group are as high as ever.
“Collectively this is the best cornerback group we’ve had since I’ve been here,” White said. “When you have four good corners on a team you’re destined for success.”
2. Identity of Bills evolving with McDermott
Just like players developing each year, so do head coaches. Sean McDermott is entering his third year as head coach of the Buffalo Bills armed with the deepest group of players he’s had. McDermott has mentioned how much better he’s felt this year when compared to this time in 2018.
“I feel like we’ve made improvements with our offensive line at least on paper,” McDermott said on WGR550’s Howard and Jeremy Show. “I feel like the DNA of our overall football team is more in the direction that we had set to go out from day one to establish. These guys are selfless, they’re tough, they want to work hard. Moving forward we have to establish a mindset of expecting to win.”
Changing the mindset begins with McDermott. The Bills’ team culture has already changed with him at the helm and has given the players a larger sense of pride to play for Buffalo.
“I would hope every year that I’m getting better as well,” McDermott said. “That means continuing to improve off the field in terms of leadership and doing the research that I need to do and then on the field of game management.”
Click through to see the best photos from Day 2 of 2019 Buffalo Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris.
3. Tickets no longer available for weekend practices in Rochester
Tickets for Saturday and Sunday's Buffalo Bills training camp practice presented by Connors and Ferris are no longer available.
The next open practice at St. John Fisher College will take place on Wednesday, July 31 at 9:45 am
Tickets are available for Friday's Return of the Blue & Red practice presented by Bud Light at New Era Field. Click here for tickets to the August 2 practice in Orchard Park.