Here's the news of note for August 22nd.
*1 – Poyer having a productive camp *
When the Bills released Corey Graham early in the offseason, an immediate hole was opened on the back end of the defense. Coach Sean McDermott and the Bills front office remedied this issue by signing Jordan Poyer.
The fifth-year veteran out of Oregon State has spent most of his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns. After initially playing with the Philadelphia Eagles for three games in 2013, he signed with the Browns and played nine games. Poyer saw consistent game time in 2014 and 2015, but missed most of the 2016 season with a lacerated kidney. His most productive season was in 2015, when he had two interceptions and 43 tackles.
With bounds of potential, the Bills brought in Poyer to help anchor the defensive backfield. Poyer said he couldn't have been happier to receive an opportunity in Buffalo.
"I was really excited for the opportunity," said Poyer. "Buffalo has given me an opportunity. I was excited to come here with the coaching staff that they have and players that they have. I'm ready to help to contribute in any way they need me."
The safety has seen consistent reps with the first-team, and looks to be a lock as a starter. McDermott said Poyer has been one of the most consistent players for the Bills during camp.
"He's been flying under the radar, his role on this defense is vital," said McDermott. "He communicates well back there for us, he's one the quarterbacks along with Micah [Hyde], the defense and the secondary…Love the way he plays, love his brand of football; Works extremely hard, and really personifies what we're about – With the hard work, with the toughness, he puts the team first. All those characteristics are what we're about."
As camp winds down, Poyer said he's felt right at home in the Bills defense. He said that he's felt like the scheme has been a good fit, and he hasn't had any trouble adjusting. Although he received a nice compliment from McDermott, Poyer said he's still needs to continue to work.
"I feel like I have some things to work on, but obviously a compliment coming from the head coach, that's good to hear," said Poyer. "But, I know my expectations, the coach's expectations for me, and I have to continue to work each and every day, and continue to get better."
2 – Locker room shuffleThe Bills locker room is unlike most in the NFL. For many teams, the stalls in the locker room are arranged largely by position groups. McDermott said the Bills decided not to follow the norm.
"It was, and still is, a team-building concept," said McDermott. "I want to make sure that we spend so much time in a lot of little campfires. You've got a campfire with the linebacking corps, you've got a campfire with the offense, a campfire over here with the defense, with the special teams, that as we continue to build this team and bring things together to one cohesive campfire, if you will in this case, that players get to know one another."
In most cases, lockers are arranged by position groups, as those are the teammates a player would be most familiar with. Not only do they run drills together, but they would also see each other in position meetings. In the case of the Bills, a re-shuffled locker room allows all the players to know each other across position lines. Placing a wide receiver's locker next to that of a defensive lineman's wouldn't usually happen, but it allows different players to become acquainted with one another.
As McDermott stated, these "campfires" are all in an effort to build a brotherhood.
"As we build this team, going back to that love that I said before, how do you really care about someone if you don't really know them? It's important that we get to know one another off the field and that love that we're building off the field, the goal in this case is that it transitions to on the field and how we play."
3 – Officials brought in at Bills camp
After two preseason games in which the Bills committed a combined 25 penalties, McDermott acknowledged that the team has a problem. He stated that to understand the issue, the coaching staff has tried to group the penalties. For example, some would be pre-snap, or post-whistle, and some would simply be aggressive plays. McDermott said he doesn't have a problem with aggressive penalties, it's the mental mistakes that hurt the team.
"I went back and looked at both games and when you're playing aggressive, you're going to get some of those penalties," said McDermott. "Some of those, you can handle – the large amount of them though, are unacceptable like I mentioned the other day. We're going to make sure we play with the proper leverage, proper technique, getting in great football position, moving our feet, playing with inside hands; It's all those techniques that we continue to refine."
McDermott stated that they will try to remedy the issue by bringing in officials during practice. Sunday was the first day the team used officials at practice. Veteran center Eric Wood said that officials could help the team limit their penalties.
"You're constantly being reminded," said Wood. "You're being yelled at by the coaches and then you also see that yellow flag on the ground, so it can help. Ultimately, as players, we've got to get affixed and just be smart in certain situations."
As preseason and training camp comes to an end, the Bills will certainly place a greater level of scrutiny on penalties. Certainly a fixable issue, the Bills' goal will be to have the problem solved by Week One.