1. Young tight ends impress
The tight end room has the most rookies on the team with three – Dawson Knox, Tommy Sweeney and Nate Becker. These first-year players, especially Sweeney and Becker, are getting plenty of touches due to injuries. Tyler Kroft, Jason Croom and Dawson Knox are currently rehabbing injuries, but Sean McDermott is pleased with what he has seen out of the young group.
“I really like what I saw the other night from that group,” McDermott said. “The guys that were on the field, I was impressed by the way they handled themselves. You know really other than Lee, who has experience, the rest of the guys who have been out there for us don’t have much experience if any and so watching those guys, the way they handled it, the way they handled the run game, the pass game. You saw Tommy make the play in what was simulated a four-minute drive and then you saw Nate with the catch at the back of the endzone and so I was very pleased with the way they played the other night.”
With a bigger role in practice, the Boston College graduate, Tommy Sweeney is soaking up his time with veteran Lee Smith.
“Lee’s taught me a lot of things already,” Sweeney said. “I’m just trying to digest it all, you know not let any of it go out of my head, things in run game, things in pass protection, things in pass game. You know he’s done it all and he’s a great player and he’s really relatable in his teaching style. So, it’s easy to hear from him and you know Coach Rob is a great coach too, you know I love all the knowledge.”
Sweeney says he is blessed to be in a tight ends group that has so much talent and knowledge.
“It’s a tremendous group,” Sweeney added. “I mean can’t say enough about each of these guys, I mean Kroft and Lee you know obviously have been out there, done their jobs and even Jason last year did a great Job. Dawson is a great player, you know the rest of us rookies, it’s a really good room, a really deep room and everybody pushes each other.”
2. Devin Singletary learning from veterans
The Bills are nine practices into camp and rookie Devin Singletary says he has gained a lot of knowledge from LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore.
“It’s been great you know, I’ve learned a lot from them,” Singletary said. “Especially about taking care of my body and whatever big thing or little thing they can help me with, they’re there for me, so it’s been great so far.”
Singletary has been involved in the passing game during practices, something he didn’t normally do in college. The rookie says he thinks he has been catching the ball well and likes the chemistry he is building with quarterback Josh Allen.
“That’s my guy,” Singletary said. “He’s very energetic, very positive, he is a great leader, it has been fun so far.”
Even though he wasn’t on the team last year, the FAU graduate believes they can have more success in the run game this season with so many new faces on the offensive line.
“From what I’ve been seeing so far we are going to have a good shot,” Singletary said. “We just got to keep working, the linemen are doing well, so we just have to keep at it.”
3. John Brown leads with his experience
Wide receiver John Brown has been in the league for six years, spending time with three different teams before the Bills. With the body of work and experiences he has from three teams, Sean McDermott looks at him as a leader amongst the wide receivers.
“I mean he’s been on a couple different teams, he has a ton of experience, played in some big games with Arizona in particular and last year with Baltimore,” McDermott said. “So, I think that gets overlooked a little bit and just because he is a little bit more of a softer-spoken guy, that what he brings to the table is certainly valuable to us. The experience he brings, how you deal with getting the ball, not getting the ball, I mean he’s been through all of that over the course of his career so it’s all great experience for our wide receiving corps.”
Brown knows what it’s like to earn a starting spot on a team whether it’s in college or the NFL. Coming out of high school, Brown had one scholarship offer from Mars Hill University, a Division II school. Brown transferred from Mars Hill to Coffeyville Community College before signing with Pittsburg State in Kansas. The wide receiver worked his way into being a third-round pick (91stoverall) in the 2014 draft. McDermott sees this work ethic every day.
“You watch the way he works, he works at it,” McDermott said. “I think there’s, he has a tremendous amount of strength, things in his tool box that he can use and the things that aren’t his strengths he works at and that’s, you see that work ethic on a daily basis and so that speaks to who he is as a person, his character and I think that’s a great example to the rest of the team really.”
Last season with the Ravens, Brown averaged 17 yards-per-catch, which ranked fourth in the NFL. In 2015 with the Cardinals, he had a career-high 1,003-yard season on 65 receptions. Establishing himself as a go-to target this season, Brown is working to have a career year.