Phase three of offseason workouts started on Monday for the Bills with practice No. 1 of OTAs. The Bills held an open practice on Tuesday afternoon, their second OTA day, where coaches and players met with media afterwards. Here are the biggest storylines out of the first week of OTAs.
Josh Allen's new sense of focus and determination
As Bills quarterback Josh Allen prepares for his sixth NFL season, Bills head coach Sean McDermott is sensing a newness to the quarterback's game already.
"I've seen a different Josh this offseason, not that it was bad before, but he's got a new sense of focus and determination, which is good," McDermott said to the media.
Allen said McDermott is able to sense this within his QB because of the conversations they've had and the trust they have in each other. The Bills quarterback also has a new type of determination because he doesn't want a talented team to miss out on opportunities.
"Just understanding our window, and I want to give everything that I have for as long as I play," Allen explained. "I'm not saying that I haven't done that in the past, but there's always new ways that I can find to get better and not being complacent with what I'm doing on the field, understanding that there's a lot of plays that we left out there. And, statistically you look at it, we were a top 3-4 offense in the league last year, and it wasn't good enough. So, just losing the playoffs isn't fun, you know?
"And I so badly want to bring a Super Bowl here to Buffalo, and I just don't want anything to get in the way of allowing me to be the best quarterback that I can be for this team."
In order to take that next step as an elite quarterback, McDermott believes it starts with Allen's decision-making process.
"I just think that Josh taking his game to another level really means being a great decision maker," McDermott shared. "We've talked about this before this offseason, it's been talked about - adjusting his style of play enough to keep himself healthy and to play smarter at times."
Allen quarterbacked an offense last season the was second in the league in scoring (averaged 28.4 points per game), second in total yards (397.6 total yards per game), seventh in passing yards (258.2 passing yards per game) and ninth in red zone efficiency (60.3%).
Sean McDermott's new responsibilities as a play caller
Sean McDermott will take on additional responsibilities this season as he transitions to become the play caller of the defense. McDermott still has the duties of a head coach but will add more onto his plate as OTAs are underway.
"Just different assignments for me during practice at times now and not holistically, but from time to time throughout practice," McDermott said. "I'm in a different position than maybe I was before just because I need to be there."
McDermott said he will operate with almost two different brains — one as a head coach and one as a defensive coordinator. As he begins to take on new roles throughout practices, McDermott shared he's excited to dive back into coaching.
"To me the head coach's seat is a leadership seat and that's all good, and I love that part of it. But what you miss the most is rolling up your sleeves, getting in with the players side-by-side and coaching and getting in that defensive room, in this case for me and really getting down to the details," McDermott said. "So I missed that, and it feels good to be back doing that again."
In terms of what McDermott wants his defense to look like, the head coach wants it to be a representation of his personality.
"I think one could say that the players are a reflection of your personality, no different as at the coordinator level, or the head coach level, really," McDermott shared. "So you want the personality to rub off, if you're doing it the right way. I think you want your personality on things, and I think that comes over time really."
His players and coaching staff haven't noticed too much of a change as McDermott has always been a coach that's involved in the defense.
"It's just been great to have his voice in there," defensive backs coach John Butler said of McDermott. "Continue to get on the same page with him in terms of philosophically what he expects from the defense and how he wants to put his thumb print on it. But much like everything else, he was heavily involved in the past."
"I like coach McDermott," edge rusher Von Miller said of his new play caller. "I like the way he coaches. It should be great, man. He was always present. He was always giving pointers throughout the whole entire season. So now he's just full time in there."
Damar Hamlin update
Sean McDermott shared an update on Bills safety Damar Hamlin ahead of Tuesday's practice. McDermott said the safety has not yet practiced with the team.
"He has not been practicing," McDermott said. "We're just going to continue to take it one day at a time and just support Damar in every way possible."
Hamlin was out on the field with his teammates and was seen stretching and going through some individual drills.
Knowing that Hamlin experienced the cardiac arrest episode less than five months ago in January says a lot about the fact that he's healthy enough to be in the building and making his way back to the field.
"To have him out there in the drills, in the walk thru, in the meetings, just around day-to-day, I think it's incredible," defensive backs coach John Butler said. "Just continue to look forward to how many more steps he's going to take to get to where he eventually wants to get to. I'm just proud to be his coach and proud to be a part of that experience and to help him physically, mentally and then on the field however we can."
Why Von Miller believes he's in a great spot
Von Miller did not practice at OTAs on Tuesday but is happy with the progress he has made on his knee thus far.
"I'm in a great spot," Miller said. "I think it's five months in a week and couple of days (from my injury). I feel like I could do way more, which I feel like that's a good sign. But you got nine months to really figure everything out and there's no reason to force it in five months or six months or even seven months.
"So, I'm in a great spot. I think going ahead and having the surgery back in December, it allowed me a little bit more time to get ready for this season."
Miller has been working out and running as of late and will continue to progress throughout the offseason.
"I haven't really got to cuts and everything like that," Miller said of where he's at. "But strengthening up my leg, running. I've done some d-line work, not at a fast pace but just to start the groundwork of me getting back to who I was."
The edge rusher doesn't have a date in mind of when he wants to be back practicing. Instead, he's focusing on what his teammates need out of him.
"The most important thing for me is just to be available when my team really needs me," Miller shared. "If that's week one, then I'll be happy for that, if that's week six, I'll be happy for that. But I guarantee you, it won't be any later than that. But whatever it takes for me to get to that point, that's what I'll do."
Scroll to see the top shots from the first day of Buffalo Bills Organized Training Activity at One Bills Drive.