Buffalo's three-day minicamp came to a close on Thursday as the 13th and final practice of the spring/summer put a cap on the team's tune-up for training camp at St. John Fisher. Head coach Chan Gailey believes the strides made by his team will pay dividends in a month's time.
"We got a lot done this week," said Gailey shortly after the final workout. "We got a lot of situations looked at. We got a lot of situational football done this week, which was great. We needed to get that. I've just been pleased with the overall progress of our football team."
Now with a month off before training camp Gailey made sure his players understood their responsibilities between now and report day in Pittsford.
"I hope that they are pros," he said. "That's what you hope. If they're not we're in deeper trouble than we think they are. If they're not smart enough or accountable enough to be in shape then we're in dire straits. I think our guys are pros enough to come back in shape."
"We have to go out and do what we need to to stay in shape as we are now and be ready to come back and go to work," said Fred Jackson. "We're headed in the right direction. The best thing to do now is to come back and build on what kind of foundation we've got now."
Merriman fine tunedOn a roster of promising talent, perhaps the most encouraging development is the state of Shawne Merriman's game. The veteran pass rusher participated fully in every spring practice and did not have any of his workload curtailed. It has Merriman confident that after three years of being forced to try and play at less than his best he'll be able to perform the way he used to when he was a three-time Pro Bowl player.
"The last couple of years I couldn't really do the things that made me the players I am in this league," said Merriman. "I'm blessed to be in this position now because I can go out now and really not think about if I burst too hard or do certain things will my Achilles hold up? That's not a concern for me anymore."
He realizes that when the pads go on in training camp the demands will be different, but after coming through the spring workouts healthy and strong Merriman is eager to get another step closer to reclaiming his status as a matchup nightmare in the NFL.
"I can't sit up here and say I'm 100 percent and I'm ready for the season, but what I've been able to do with my body and get ready for training camp and the season has been incredible," he said. "My body is ready to take this on again and get back to doing the things I used to do."
Anticipation buildingKnowing expectations for the team are the highest they've been in a while, Buffalo's players and coaches are trying to block it out. They want to focus on producing results instead of predictions.
"We feel like we've got a lot of prove," said Jackson. "We've made some good moves during the offseason and that's all it is, moves. We've got to come out and play football. We know that. We've got some valuable pieces added that are looking forward to coming in and contribute, so we want to go out and make a splash this year."
"We've come a long way, but we don't have any kind of record to show that and that's our objective this year to show that," said Gailey. "You can't talk about it, you've got to go prove it."
HighlightsFor all the highlights from the final day of action be sure to go to the Media Center at Buffalobills.com.
ScheduleThe Bills are off until report day at training camp on July 24th.