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Minicamp notebook | Connor McGovern 'happy' to be back at center, Rasul Douglas fully immersed in Bills playbook

Rasul Douglas (31), Mack Hollins (13). Buffalo Bills Mandatory Minicamp, June 11, 2024 at One Bills Drive.
Rasul Douglas (31), Mack Hollins (13). Buffalo Bills Mandatory Minicamp, June 11, 2024 at One Bills Drive.

Believe it or not, the 6-foot-5, 318-pound Connor McGovern was once considered small for an offensive lineman.

"I was actually undersized growing up, like in high school," McGovern said Wednesday after Day 2 of Bills minicamp.

Because he was often the shortest player on the offensive line, his high school coaches put him at center. McGovern learned to love the role and orchestrate the line.

"Once I hit my growth spurt, I just stayed at center," he said. "It was just always something natural. I always liked being in the middle and that was always comfortable to me."

Throughout his collegiate career at Penn State, McGovern shifted over to guard on occasion. His fit in that position intrigued NFL teams and the Cowboys drafted him in the third-round.

Throughout his four-year NFL career, McGovern has been utilized only as a guard. But that's changing in 2024 as McGovern has moved back to center and is working with the first-team offense at that spot through OTAs and minicamp.

"I missed it a lot, honestly," McGovern said. "I'm very happy."

The Bills signed McGovern in the 2023 offseason as his ability to handle both guard and center appealed to Buffalo GM Brandon Beane. McGovern started all 17 games last season at left guard and now he'll move one spot to his right after longtime center Mitch Morse was released during free agency.

"When we did sign Connor last year, we did say, 'Hey, this guy is a guy who could be a future center for us when his number is called.' We didn't know at that time we would call it at this time. Connor has welcomed the opportunity," Beane said during NFL Owners meetings earlier this offseason.

The minicamp and OTAs have been a feeling out process at center for McGovern, in more ways than one. In addition to reacquainting himself with his new role, McGovern is also learning Josh Allen's hand placement and technique for a clean snap.

"I found where Josh likes to put his hands and where I could feel it. And so we just got used to it" he said.

Douglas diving into Bills playbook

Bills cornerback Rasul Douglas wasn't in attendance for OTAs, but he said it had nothing to do with his commitment level to the team.

"I just feel like sometimes you just need to take away and just take a deep breath and to be thankful for what God blessed you with, the family that you with, and just to spend time with them. Also to get your mind healthy, happy," Douglas said following Wednesday's minicamp.

"I usually take my voluntary stuff to do that. And then mandatory, you come back, take the month off that they give you again for July, and then once you get back, you're kind of, like locked and loaded."

Douglas shared that he explained his thought process to the coaching staff during player exit meetings at the beginning of the offseason, assuring them that he'd still be getting prepared for the season.

With Douglas a full participant in minicamp this week, he said he's noticed how much more of the playbook he's been able to understand and put into practice.

"Yeah, because you've got to learn everybody's position, not just what you're doing. Like last year, I didn't know what everybody else was doing," he said. "Now I'm kind of learning what the linebackers do, what the D-line do, where I'm gonna get my help from and things like that."

Gable Steveson wants to 'do the impossible'

2020 Olympic Gold Medal winner Gable Steveson has a clear vision for his time with the Buffalo Bills: "Do the impossible."

The wrestler-turned-defensive-tackle signed with the Bills during OTAs, and is now preparing to play a brand-new sport.

"It's just a childhood dream to at least accomplish everything you ever want. I'll give it my all and make it what I need to be," he said this week.

The Bills coaching staff were the ones who reached out to Steveson first with initial interest in joining the expanded offseason roster. They believe his physical skillset can be put to use on the defensive line. While Steveson puts in the work to adjust to life in the NFL, he shared that one of his goals is to inspire others.

"It's a goal. It's not about just joining a football team. It's about making it through and being a product that people can look at and be, `Hey, this guy has never played football in his life and he made it.' And kids are going to look at that and be like, `Wow, I can be something with myself," Steveson shared.

"Because when I was younger, we had none of these opportunities. And for me to finally push that narrative of you can come from one sport to another: that's an incredible thing. And I hope people realize this and can see that they can do whatever they want with their lives."

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