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My View: Personal relationships make us better on the field

062718-2my-view-dawkins

Even though it’s break time between spring practices and training camp I can honestly say it’s been a good offseason of balance between work and some fun off the field. I had the chance to take some trips and the most interesting one was the one I took with Shady (LeSean McCoy) to South America. We went to Brazil and Colombia and had a blast.

It’s crazy to think that five years ago I was in college at Temple in Philadelphia admiring Shady as a player with the Eagles, and now I’m his teammate.

I can’t call it anything else but just blessings. I’ve always been true with God and God has always known what I wanted to achieve and do in my life. Shady has always been one of my favorite running backs and knowing him now as a person outside of who he is as a player is special.

I take it personally with my teammates because I see all of them as brothers knowing we’re going through the same stuff together as one. It is very cool that I get to hang out and chill with all of these players that have legacies and names. In the end though we’re all just people and I’ve figured that out quickly. We’re all just regular guys messing around.

But it’s a personal relationship with my teammates and that will only make us better on the field. It’s simple. Would you rather play for somebody you don’t know to the fullest, or somebody that you do know?

Since I have a relationship with just about everybody on this roster, I take it personally and do my job that much more because I know them and how great these guys are to their family or to their craft.

Obviously, we always put team goals ahead of individual ones, but as offensive linemen we’re well aware of Shady’s new 12K chase after getting him to 10K last season.

Shady is a great running back. He makes our life easier. He’s so good that all we have to do is stay in front of our guy and he’s going to do his thing and juke left or right. Knowing that Shady is in the backfield, I know I have to get in my guy’s way for a couple of seconds and he’s off to the races.

But the thing I’m most excited about heading into 2018 is how this offseason program has definitely put me in better shape. I’m stronger. I know my teammates more because I’ve spent more time around them and I know the playbook more.

It’s a good jump start or energy shot because I’m fully loaded. I’m going into camp with everything I need to continue to play and perform the way I need to for my team.

Last year kind of loaded me up with ammo to take on this next battle, which is year two. Playing with older guys like Richie (Incognito) and Eric Wood has molded me into the player I’m going to be and that I am now. Just the experience alone and knowing what to expect in a game and to go through the highs and lows of a football game has been amazing. It’s given me bullets.

It’s strange to say as a second-year player, but with Incognito and Wood no longer on the squad I will have to take on more of a leadership role up front.

Coach McDermott and the front office staff, I honestly feel they took a lot of time in putting together my draft class in 2017. Even though it’s year two for all of us, I feel it’s more like year six for all of us because we were all four-year college players. I had to take on a leadership role in college very early and it seems like history is repeating itself here. I know this is a business and things happen and people come and go. It’s all a part of this game.

Taking on a leadership role early, I know what to expect, and again because of those older guys I was around last year I know what to do and what not to do because everybody is watching. It all has to be right. So taking on a leadership role as a younger player will be hard, but I think I’m ready for that challenge.

A big reason why is I learned watching E. Wood last year and how he knew his teammates to a ‘T.’ You can’t be the same leader to everybody. Everyone has different emotions and feelings. There are certain guys who you can yell at and fire them up very easily in that moment. And there are other guys where you have to wait and tell them after practice and make suggestions. So just knowing my teammates would be the best bet in knowing how to lead.

I do want to mention that I was glad to be a part of the Honor flight program this offseason. It’s important to me because I have family that’s in the service. From an early age, it’s been a part of me. To be able to fly down to D.C. with those veterans and hear their stories, knowing they’ve lost people and sacrificed and see them still pushing forward is amazing. It was an honor just to be asked to spend a day with those guys. I’m a people person at heart.

I learned very quickly that the Bills fans here are amazing. Dion Dawkins

Which brings me to our fans. I learned very quickly that the Bills fans here are amazing. But one thing I do want to clear up is a lot of times Bills fans come up to me and say, ‘I’m sorry to bother you…’

And I want it known, don’t ever be sorry because I’m truly thankful that you even want to come up and say something.

I realize fans in Buffalo are still getting to know me, so I’ll share this. I am a huge fan of water sports. I long board. I will always do the things that you think big guys can’t do. Like flipping and cartwheels and hand stands and skateboards and scooters.

Things that smaller people do that many think big people shouldn’t. I’m always going to live in a way that pushes the envelope on what big guys can and can’t do.

The one thing I’ll leave our fans with is while I can’t specifically reveal anything, we already have a touchdown celebration cooking in the pot for the upcoming season, and you’ll see it because Shady will get into the end zone. You’ll see it.

Until training camp Bills fans.

--Dion Dawkins

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