With August just a few days away, the Buffalo Bills are set to open camp at St. John Fisher College. Many players arrived at camp voluntarily Wednesday afternoon to get settled before practice starts on Friday. Players are usually eager to get to camp, but there is a palpable buzz around this season according to some veterans.
"It does feel different and I'm excited about it," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "We've got a group that can do some special things."
Williams will be a key cog on what should be one of the best defensive lines in the league. All four projected starters were ranked in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2015—the first time that a team's whole defensive line has made the list. Still, Williams said there is plenty of room for improvement before the team's Week 1 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
"We're excited to be here and excited about where we could go, but we've got a whole lot of work before we get there," he said. "Obviously we've got some talented guys, but hopefully they understand there's a lot of work to get done before we realize any of the potential that we may have."
One camp tradition for Williams is his annual round of golf with center Eric Wood on check in day. Wood was the second player to move in Wednesday before heading to Oak Hill Country Club with Williams. Like his defensive counterpart, Wood is excited for camp to get underway.
"[I'm] always happy to be back at training camp," Wood said. "I'm excited about the team we've got coming in and getting to work with the guys."
Along with fellow offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson, Wood started every game last season. Together, they will anchor a line with some new faces, including former Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito. Like Williams, however, Wood recognized that the team has plenty of work in front of them before the regular season.
"It's outstanding that we've sold more tickets than ever in history, even with our playoff drought. And that's awesome," he said. "But from our perspective, we've got a long way to go … It's just the start of training camp, we've got a ton of work to do before we start talking about expectations or anything."
Wide receiver Chris Hogan is one of 13 wide receivers on the camp roster. The competition for a job on the final 53 will be fierce during camp. According to Hogan, however, it is part of what makes training camp exciting.
"Every year it's competitive. Every year it seems like I'm a bubble guy," he said. "I'm going to take advantage of every single opportunity I get out there. Hopefully, there are a lot of them."
Head coach Rex Ryan is creating the biggest buzz going into training camp. Ryan led the New York Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games in his first two seasons as a head coach. Add in his larger than life personality and Ryan is a gravitational figure.
"He came here to win first of all," said Sammy Watkins of his new head coach. "I think for the most part we've got to win now. We can't win next year or the following year and say we don't have the team. We have the team and we have the coaches so we have to win every game. That's what the goal is. We understand that it's hard to win in the NFL and every team is good, but Rex is prepared and I think he's going to prepare us the best."
Ryan's job will be made easier with the amount of talent in the locker room, and camp will be about effectively blending all of that talent together.
"We've just got to show up and win games," said Sammy Watkins. "That's the biggest thing. Everybody is buying tickets and everybody has these Super Bowl thoughts on their mind. We've got to come in here Friday at practice and start it up. We're not just going to win games because we've got all these players. It starts in practice and training camp and I think if we do our business in practice we'll have a shot at the playoffs."