It was evident from the very first drill on the very first day of the Bills voluntary veteran minicamp. The offense during individual position drills was lined up on the 35-yard line going in. After running a play the entire unit sprinted to the end zone. The second unit soon followed. During team work head coach Doug Marrone shouted, 'Don't be afraid to call a play,' when the offense languished for a moment at the line of scrimmage. In Buffalo's first three days of practice under Marrone and his staff, the mindset of moving quickly in every phase of practice was firmly established.
Mario Williams: "The atmosphere is completely changed here"
"I think coming into it one of the things that we wanted to get accomplished as a team was one we wanted to establish a tempo, the way we practice, the way we go about our business," said Marrone. "You'll see different changes as we start going through with the OTAs. What we wanted to do as far as installation is create that base with more of a huddle and obviously once you have that foundation you'll see us actually be a lot faster."
The purpose of the fast pace is two-fold. The main reason for the offense is because that's the way they'll operate a good portion of the time come the regular season. The other reason for the fast pace in practice is to most effectively replicate game speed.
"I think in football, it's a game where everything happens so quickly during a game," said Marrone.
"I think you get a false sense of security if you're slowed down in practice and you're slowing things down. The faster you can do it in practice the faster you can do it in the game."
"We are not even pushing it right now really and you can still feel it in practice," said Kevin Kolb. "We have been finishing early. It has a lot to do with our coaching and the way that they press things. And then of course it transpires through me and the leaders. That is the way we want to play the game."
Players on the defensive side of the ball have also come to recognize the changes in the practice setting.
"Everything has changed, not just from coaches but the whole mindset," said Mario Williams. "It's almost like from what we thought was this or that last year, this is definitely different. Just the way you see us running around being positive and getting after it, getting into the playbook, it has definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities of what is in front of us, especially on the defense, with the capabilities that he's putting out there for us."
Though the work has just begun it appears the players have bought in and that has Marrone encouraged about how it sets up for the next phase of their offseason preparations on May 13th for OTAs.
"There's no doubt that I'm excited about our start. I told that and communicated that to the players," said Marrone. "I think the players have been very responsive. We've thrown a lot at them in these last three days, very multiple on offense, multiple on defense. We've done some situations, third down, red zone, so we've gotten a lot of stuff in. There's no doubt I feel that we're headed in the right direction."