Here's the Bills news of note for March 14th.
1 - Who sold 'Zo on coach McDermott?Lorenzo Alexander made it quite evident that he wanted to be back in Buffalo with the Bills knowing his one-year contract with the team was up. With the coaching staff turning over however, he had to know it was still a good fit for him. As players normally do when coaching changes occur, they call the first fellow player in the league they know who can lend insight on who his new boss is and how he operates. In preparation for a potential return to the Bills, Alexander called on someone who effectively sold him on coach McDermott in one phone call.
"I have a great relationship with (Carolina LB) Thomas Davis," said Alexander. "We actually were rookies together in Carolina and have maintained that friendship. I have a lot of respect for him, as far as who he is and he put his name on Sean.
"Sean doesn't have anything to prove to me, once Thomas told me that. For now, it's just building that relationship, that trust, that chemistry, and that bond that you have with your leadership and your head coach so that you can really get a whole team together from top to bottom and move in the right direction. We have some other leaders that are going to be going through that process as well and I definitely want to win now and not have to wait and have him build up a process. We want to be able to change the culture around immediately and get moving in the right direction."
For Alexander and the other veterans who were on the roster last season they saw what a lack of accountability can do to a team's fortunes. While they themselves were accountable, too many of their teammates were not in 2016.
Alexander believes that accountability must be demanded by the leaders in Buffalo's locker room this season no matter how challenging it might be.
"I know that we're going to be successful. We just have to have buy-in, and that's part of my job as well, being one of the leaders, is getting guys, forcing guys, whatever I got to do – each guy is different – to make sure I get them to buy-in and take their game to the next level," Alexander said. "Whether that's watching more film, taking care of their bodies, paying attention in meetings – whatever that looks like – so that we can be a successful football team because I only have two years at the most that I'll probably still be playing and I don't want to go out and not being in the playoffs, not winning football games.
"I understand we have to have everybody from a Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, all the way down to the last guy that's fighting for a roster spot on this team, to be moving in the same direction if we want to find ourselves where we want to be, and that's ultimately in the playoffs and competing for a championship."
2 - Bills OL coach Castillo key in landing DucasseHe's known Bills offensive line coach Juan Castillo since he was preparing for the 2010 NFL draft as a senior at UMASS. Vladimir Ducasse, who signed with Buffalo as a free agent this past week, finally go to work with him last year when he signed a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Getting the opportunity to work with coach Castillo again proved very attractive for the veteran guard.
"He's been trying to get me ever since I came out of UMASS," said Ducasse of Castillo smiling. "At UMASS I met him and he was teaching me about his footwork and technique at the Senior Bowl and the combine. But it didn't end up working out. So when he heard I was available and he brought me in to Baltimore, he actually had time to show me what to work on. He's a coach, but his main thing is teaching, which is good because it's made for a good change in my game."
After spending a year under coach Castillo, Ducasse has a very good handle on the kinds of techniques and regimen he demands. That's why even though for the third straight year Ducasse is with a new team, there will be a lot that's familiar to him stepping on the field with the Bills.
"Going to Baltimore last year I didn't know what to expect, but when he talks about working we work," said Ducasse. "That means putting in overtime. Nothing illegal, but we're working. I'm sure the other guys will appreciate it the same way, but it's not designed to make you tired. It's about teaching and doing it over and over again until you feel comfortable enough."
3 - Bills top rushing exploits big lure for FB DiMarcoThere were a lot of things that looked very appealing to Bills new FB Pat DiMarco in his decision to sign a free agent contract with Buffalo last week. At the top of the list however, was the Bills impressive back-to-back seasons of leading the league in rushing.
"Oh man, that was probably the reason why I wanted to come here," DiMarco said. "To be the top rushing team in the league but also the weapons that you have around you – I mean, the young talent and the defense starting to play better and better – opportunities are endless. I think we can do some really cool things here but it starts with OTA's and then it starts in mandatory vet camp, and then let's get into training camp and then we'll get going from there."
DiMarco has a lot of respect for Bills feature back LeSean McCoy, who he's excited to play with this fall.
"Watching him on tape, it's – he'll make you miss in a phone booth," said DiMarco. "He's super talented and so versatile. It seems like he can do everything – catch the ball in the back field, blocking – I'm sure he'll make me look good here, which will be good too."
As one of the new faces, DiMarco knows he's got to blend in with the rest of the roster first before anything else.
"There are going to be a lot of new faces around here so a lot of bonding needs to take place and kind of bringing that atmosphere of, 'Let's go play football for the guy next to you and not just for a paycheck,'" he said. "I'm excited because Buffalo is such an incredible football town and I've never played here, but I've heard the fans are incredible and I can't wait to be a part of it."