Tremaine Edmunds had an enormous amount of responsibility on his plate last season as the quarterback of the defense as a 19-year old. Armed with a determined work ethic, Edmunds made progress as his rookie season wore on in 2018, evidenced by his Defensive Rookie of the Month honor for the month of December last season.
Here's why Edmunds' second NFL season figures to be of the break out variety.
1. Maturing physically
In his rookie season, Edmunds was a 20-year old who had not come close to filling out his long-limbed 6-5 frame. The linebacker was lean without a lot of bulk to his frame. Now following an offseason where a lot of time was spent getting bigger and stronger, Edmunds is a strapped 253 pounds.
"I have just been getting stronger overall, trying to get my speed a little bit faster, stay tuned toward that," he said. "A little bit more muscle mass, things like that."
The middle linebacker looks broader through his chest and shoulders, which should only help him in the run front. Knowing that added bulk hasn't compromised his foot speed, Edmunds should be just as disruptive in coverage with his height and long arms making him a threat to make plays on the ball over the middle.
"To watch him just physically mature from the time he left to the time we saw him at the end of last season, you know he's been working and that's been nice to see," said head coach Sean McDermott. "It doesn't surprise me knowing him. He works at things. It's important to him."
2. Knows nuances of defense
After immersing himself in the defensive scheme day and night last season, Edmunds has a valuable working familiarity of the system. It has enabled him to play faster and more instinctive. Additionally it has given him the opportunity to master some of the nuanced parts of scheme that should enhance his abilities to get the defensive unit in the best call possible for what might be coming from the opposing offense.
"I have a year under my belt now," said Edmunds. "So now, it's about going back and fine tuning what I did last year and what we did as a team. Learning from there, sitting down with the guys, getting more into depth with it now. Talking more football, more situational work since everybody now has a foundation. Just learning from there and getting better."
"I think he has grown tremendously," said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. "It goes back to the year he has under his belt and the confidence he's gained as a player. He's grown quite a bit and he'll grow even more. We're still early in the process for him. There's a lot more growth to be done, but he's come a long way from a year ago."
“It’s year two for me, so obviously leadership is going to pick up some. Focusing in on those points, taking that next step in my game, building the whole team. I’m ready for that challenge." Tremaine Edmunds
Check out photos of the Buffalo Bills working out during the team's offseason program. Bills weight room photos are presented by Crunch Fitness.
3. Comfortable as a leader
Edmunds was not a leader on the defensive side of the ball as a rookie. Veterans Lorenzo Alexander, the now retired Kyle Williams and Micah Hyde handled the leadership roles. But as the 2018 wound down, Williams made a point to nudge Edmunds forward into a leadership role, knowing the young linebacker would need to get comfortable in such a role for the 2019 campaign.
That exposure to leading in the defensive meeting room as well as on the field has Edmunds all the more prepared to be a player his teammates can take their cues from on Sundays.
"I've watched him take leadership steps this off season since he's been back and some of that means Lorenzo [Alexander] has to give up some of that in the linebacker room," McDermott said. "That's a very unselfish approach by probably our biggest leader on our football team is to pass that torch in some ways to Tremaine. That's a sign of a good football team."
"His ability now to communicate with no hesitation, to know exactly what we're looking for as a coaching staff, you see the evidence in the way he's practicing and the way he's communicating with his teammates, which gives those guys confidence in our middle linebacker," said Frazier. "He's grown over the offseason. The confidence is probably the one thing that's sticking out more and more."
"It's year two for me, so obviously leadership is going to pick up some," said Edmunds. "Focusing in on those points, taking that next step in my game, building the whole team. I'm ready for that challenge. I'm ready for that next step. I'm excited for it."