The week of the season opener is finally here. The Bills held practice on Sunday afternoon as the preparation continues for Thursday night's matchup against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams. Here are two takeaways from practice.
What the Bills know about the Rams
Heading into this season as defending Super Bowl champions, it's no secret that LA's roster is filled with talent and the Bills acknowledged this week they need to be ready to go up against some of the league's best players on Thursday night.
Ahead of Sunday's practice, head coach Sean McDermott attributed defensive tackle Aaron Donald as the best player in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball.
"You turn the tape on and in the first three plays you don't have to go any further than that," McDermott said. "You're seeing him making an impact on the game and interrupting offensive rhythm and you're just trying to get a play run and he's blowing it up."
When asked if there was a more disruptive player than Donald, quarterback Josh Allen said there isn't. After watching film of the defensive tackle, Allen shared that the offense's mindset is to go in with a plan to block him in attempt to limit how he can impact the game.
"He's Aaron Donald for a reason, and we're going to have our hands full with him," Allen said.
As someone who's familiar with Donald's playing style, outside linebacker Von Miller complimented Donald by saying there is no secret to his game and there's nothing that he could say to prepare the Bills' offense for what he's going to bring. Last season with the Rams, Miller saw Donald put up a career-high 84 combined tackles and shared that he's one of the greatest football players he's ever played with.
"I'd be setting them up for failure if I tell them, 'If you just do this, you'll be alright,'" Miller said. "He's good at everything. We got Josh Allen. We got great players, too. But Aaron Donald's going to make plays and we just got to find ways to make just one more play than those guys."
Miller added that it's not realistic to go into this game thinking that the Bills are going to shut out key players like quarterback Matt Stafford, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and Donald on every play. But when LA's offense is on the field, the Bills are going to have to keep their eyes on Stafford and Kupp.
Hyde describes Kupp as the No. 1 weapon for the Rams and a player who always sticks out on film. The wide receiver had a career-high 145 receptions for 1,947 receiving yards last season and with those numbers, the Bills will have to know where he is on the field at all times.
"He's a threat in the pass game no matter what, but when he gets the ball in his hands, just how he's able to break tackles," Hyde said. "He's just a guy that can do it all and that's why he's one of the best in this game."
First NFL Kickoff game for the Bills in franchise history
There's a lot of excitement and anticipation leading up to the start to the 2022 NFL season, especially Thursday's NFL Kickoff game against the Rams. While there's an understanding of the hype surrounding the Bills' first game of the season, it's just another game for quarterback Josh Allen.
"I've talked to a few people that have played and coached in this game before and the unanimous thing that they were talking about was it feels like playoff atmosphere," Allen said. "So, we got to understand that going in, not get too high, not get too low, understand the flow of the game, and just try to put our best foot forward and try to win the game."
Some players have been a part of the NFL Kickoff game as a member of another team, but Thursday marks the first time in franchise history that the Bills will kick off the NFL season. Safety Micah Hyde experienced playing in an opening night game when he was on the Green Bay Packers, and he shared that it had a wild atmosphere.
"You have to control your emotions a little bit, especially early this week and the build up to it and obviously when you get there," Hyde said. "I think we understand there's not a Super Bowl trophy for whoever wins this game, but it's going to be a nice opportunity for us to go on national TV in the opening game and see what we got."
Bills hit the practice field to prepare for the NFL's Kickoff game on Thursday against the defending Super Bowl champions the LA Rams.