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Minicamp notebook | Bills use Day 3 as final tune-up, reps for new players before summer break

Sean McDermott. Buffalo Bills Mandatory Minicamp, June 13, 2024 at 1 Bills Drive.
Sean McDermott. Buffalo Bills Mandatory Minicamp, June 13, 2024 at 1 Bills Drive.

Last season, the Bills opted to cancel the final day of mandatory minicamp practices. This year, Buffalo decided one more practice before a long break would be beneficial for everyone because of the volume of new players on the roster.

"Obviously there's a high percentage of new players, new faces, so the more reps we can get the better," McDermott said Thursday. "I appreciate the players willingness and their attitude when they went out there. Not all teams are practicing on the third day of minicamp, and I appreciated their attitude."

Before hitting the field for their final practice, McDermott also spoke to the team about why he felt it was necessary to have one more day of practice.

"He made a statement saying I think around 40% of our team is still new," cornerback Kaiir Elam shared. "I think from where we started at from the first OTA practice to now, I feel like we have gotten way, way, way cleaner. And when you know what you're doing, you can play a lot faster. So, I feel like the effort was a lot better too than when we first started."

One of several players who has tried to make the most of every practice is Buffalo's second-round pick in wide receiver Keon Coleman. General manager Brandon Beane said the playmaker been diligent this offseason.

"I think Keon's worked hard," Beane said. "Like anything, a college playbook versus an NFL playbook, (there's a) big difference. The verbiage, where he's lining up, all the variances he's got to do…he's gonna have bumps in the road. He's a rookie, and I think we all need to understand that. But I think him and Josh are working on that rapport that's going to be necessary between quarterback and receiver."

The last month has also been important for all of the team building opportunities that arise. Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones said the defensive line group outings over the course of the month to get to know each other better. For their last night in Buffalo before the break, defensive line coach Marcus West hosted a dinner for his position group.

"We had dinner just to talk about OTAs and kind of see where we are and how we feel," Jones said. "And we came a long way just being able to gel with these young guys so quickly and all being on the same page. And we are really just being ourselves, inviting the new guys into the room, it's been a great minicamp."

The Bills finished mandatory minicamp with several players working off to the side as they were unable to participate in practice, but Beane doesn't foresee any of the injuries being too serious.

"We got some nicks and bruises," Beane said. "I think Khalil (Shakir) is going to be okay. I'm hopeful that everyone will be ready when we start or close is the goal. Obviously, they got to work through the summer."

Next up is training camp at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, NY. Report day is set for July 23 and practices will begin on July 24. When asked if the Bills would participate in any joint practices with other teams this summer, Beane said "possibly."

"We're not against it at all," Beane added. "We've had things in the past that were tentatively lined up. So, we're not against it and it doesn't mean we're not going to do something as well."

McDermott's message to the team ahead of everyone taking a much-deserved break before camp was simple.

"Be ready to go," McDermott said. "Make good decisions during this four-week period of time from when they leave us to when they come back to St. John Fisher, and be ready to go, be in shape because it's going to be a challenge at camp."

Scroll to see the best photos from the Buffalo Bills Mandatory Minicamp in Orchard Park, NY, June 13, 2024.

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