Five takeaways from Sean McDermott's offseason conference call

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Buffalo Bills practice for Wild Card Playoff game at One Bills Drive, January 1, 2020. Photo by Bill Wippert

In addition to the way in which the Bills have handled the nation's racial injustice and subsequent protests as a team, there were some other newsworthy items revealed by head coach Sean McDermott on his conference call with the media.

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1. Josh Allen's leadership takes critical step

It was confirmed by McDermott that it was Josh Allen who was the orchestrator and organizer of last weekend's offensive player practice sessions in south Florida. Every skill position player on the offensive side of the ball was in attendance for the player-run sessions, and for Allen specifically, McDermott felt it was an important exercise in leadership.

"That was not an easy thing to pull off. I think it was just outstanding and then a big step for Josh Allen and his leadership," said McDermott. "He continues to take critical steps. Just a phenomenal job."

Buffalo's head coach also mentioned how he's observed Allen in the Zoom quarterback meetings and how he has capably led and been in lock step with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.

2. New leaders emerging

Even though the face-to-face interaction has been minimal during the offseason conditioning program this spring, it hasn't kept some new veterans on the roster from taking the lead.

"I've been impressed with how a couple of our guys in particular that are new to team have really asserted themselves, even though they have not yet met all of their teammates in person," McDermott said. "I think that's been really cool because when you can do that, I think that really speaks to our existing culture and it also speaks to who they these individual players are, and their DNA that they feel comfortable saying, 'Hey, listen, I'm here to win and I know if we're going to win I need to do my part in leading our football team.' I think unusual times call for unusual measures in certain moments and I think that's been one of the positives of our offseason to this point. I'm extremely grateful for it."

McDermott referenced Mario Addison, AJ Klein and Quinton Jefferson among the new additions to the roster who haven't been shy about taking the lead at times through the course of the offseason conditioning program and in meetings.

3. The added challenge for rookies

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided every NFL club with a unique set of challenges in terms of getting ready for the 2020 regular season. It has also given the incoming rookie class an additional set of hurdles to clear knowing their remote learning has kept them from being fully indoctrinated into what is required of them now that they're professionals.

"The rookies that are new to our football team, it's a big-time uphill climb for them, because not only do they not know us, but they don't know our systems, our schemes," said McDermott. "Then on top of that, you talk about transitioning to life in the NFL. That's a whole other program that we've tried to be on point with in Buffalo here with our development team, and the amount of time that they spend in helping these young men transition to life in the NFL. So it's been a challenge."

McDermott said the main task for he and his coaching staff will be to have an awareness and realistic approach to what and how much the rookies can contribute knowing their time on task and on the field has been terribly limited to this point.

"There's a huge gap and so we'll see, early on in particular," he said. "So there could be a chance that if we don't come back until training camp, we'll see where that goes, but if we don't, that there's only basically six weeks, and we're playing a real game that counts. What realistically and forget rookies, now I'm talking the whole team, what realistically as coaches, can we expect our players to do, and get good at during that time? There are ongoing conversations and we've got to be at our best as a coaching staff and as an organization as we move forward."

4. Confident team can overcome obstacles

There is little question that the obstacles put in the way of the Bills and every other NFL club this offseason have been sizable. Though the current circumstances have been out of their control, coach McDermott remains convinced that the team's strong player leadership will help push and guide the team to its necessary level of preparedness for the start of the regular season.

"This has certainly been an event packed offseason just in terms of the things that continue to happen," he said. "But to me it comes back to leadership and that's my job. That's also the job of the veterans on our football team. It's their team. I've got to take ownership. They have to take ownership and find a way to navigate everything that's happened and adjust. I'm confident, I really am. I'm confident that we will do that.

"We've got guys on our team that are built and wired that they've overcome adverse times before, as have I and so has Brandon (Beane).

"So does that mean it's going to be easy? No. Does that mean that the world right now is easy? No. And we all need leadership and our football team needs leadership. So that's what we plan on doing as the leaders of our football team, myself included, plan on leading us through these times."

5. Full preseason on schedule

The COVID-19 pandemic has already thrown spring and summer sports into a massive rescheduling effort. Some are already wondering if the NFL's preseason schedule could also be impacted.

Coach McDermott provided an update on where that four-game slate stands as of now.

"What I know to this point is as far as the preseason games go we are expected to play on schedule, that's the latest that I know from the league," he said. "I'm sure more information will be forthcoming when and as is necessary."

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