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How Greg Rousseau and Ed Oliver are attacking OTAs to set them up for the season

Buffalo Bills Organized Team Activity, June 6, 2024 at One Bills Drive.
Buffalo Bills Organized Team Activity, June 6, 2024 at One Bills Drive.

Buffalo's defensive line returns six players that made the 53-man roster from last season. The group, along with the defense's help, finished fourth in the league with 54 sacks and sixth with 110 quarterback hits.

For returning players like defensive end Greg Rousseau and defensive tackle Ed Oliver, this season is all about improvement.

"I feel like year after year, there's no, 'Oh, I did this good.' Because every single season is kind of like a new life in a video game," Rousseau shared. "So, you got to go out there and earn it whether it's in the run or the pass. I've got to get better at everything."

Rousseau totaled five sacks and 42 total tackles in 16 starts last season. His teammate, Oliver, had a career season in 2023 and wants to do more in 2024. The DT had a career-high 9.5 sacks and 51 total tackles in 16 starts the season following his contract extension.

"Just pick up where I left off last year. continue to grow as a person, as a player and as a teammate," Oliver said of his goals in 2024. "As a veteran on the team, just continue to just add to my game. Use the guys around me to help me get better and help them get better, and we just feed off each other. You need help to get where I got last year. It took all four of us —all 11 of us — to accomplish what I did."

With goals to improve upon a 9.5 sack season, Oliver's prep for the upcoming season starts in the film room.

"Every year, you take a game, you break down, you see what you did good, what you didn't do good, where you can get better and you just start to approach every offseason (like that)," Oliver shared. "I just break it down, see where I need to get better and see where I wasn't so good. (I) understand why I wasn't so good, understand how they were attacking me…how I need to be ready for their game plan and things like that."

While Oliver got a new contract ahead of the 2023 season, Rousseau's fifth-year option was picked up this offseason. The edge rusher is choosing to focus on his play rather than a looming contract.

"I've always kind of let the other things play out, like when I was going into the NFL Draft and stuff," Rousseau said. "And then when I'm playing football or I'm in the building, I'm working and putting the work in. That's what I'm on, that's what I'm focused on. I'm locked in on that and all the other stuff is like let God handle the rest."

"Nobody has higher expectations for me than I have for myself. And honestly it just comes from me wanting to be great and just wanting to help my teammates out and help my team win."

Just like the offense, the defense is preparing for a season with a new defensive coordinator in Bobby Babich. The defensive line also has a new position coach. After Eric Washington took the defensive coordinator job with the Bears, assistant defensive line coach Marcus West stepped into the role.

"He fits what we're looking for," Babich said of West. "With all these guys, the number one thing to me is (being) smart when it comes to football. Secondly is the work ethic. I watched him as the assistant D-line coach here, probably worked more hours than anybody, and including myself, worked longer hours than me.

"So, he understands the work ethic. He's got a great relationship with the players, and he's deserving of this job."

The players agree that West was deserving of the job after serving as Buffalo's assistant defensive line coach for two seasons.

"Coach West has been great," Rousseau said. "Just him breaking everything down into the detail that he's been breaking it down to and just the energy that he brings out on the field. He really knows what he's talking about. So, I'm excited to work with Coach West.

"He's a hell of a coach, hell of a guy."

All this newness has Rousseau, Oliver and the rest of the defensive line wanting to make the most out of their time together at OTAs so that come training camp the groundwork for good team chemistry has already been laid.

"Obviously we got a lot of new players so just getting to know each other, so we can just have that bond," Rousseau said. "I feel like teams who have a good bond, it really shows out there on the field on Sundays when you're connecting and you build that trust for each other over the offseason."

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