As training camp "report day" unfolded, and the 2009 Buffalo Bills checked into their rooms at St. John Fisher College, it was obvious that there is a lot of anticipation for the upcoming season particularly among the offensive players.
The additions of wide receiver Terrell Owens and other veterans such as running back Dominic Rhodes, as well as upgrades to the offensive line look to be exactly what the Bills need to perform more consistently and play a greater role in posting victories.
Quarterback Trent Edwards is very confident in his teammates, and is ready to show fans that these additions and changes hold a lot of promise.
"Yes, the expectations are very high. I know with bringing in Terrell (Owens), with bringing in the rookies, a couple of other free agents Dominic(Rhodes) and with Fred (Jackson) and Marshawn (Lynch) in the backfield, I feel like there is a lot of potential there," Edwards said. "We have the same coaches coming back on offense so I know the expectations are very high. There is a lot of reason to be expecting big things."
Training camp represents a fresh start. Having only gotten their feet wet at OTAs and minicamp, and after a month off, the players are glad to be back and ready for practice.
Entering his eighth season with the Bills, wide receiver Josh Reed, who arrived early Friday, is well accustomed to the camp routine. He expects the changes made to the offense, including the addition of Owens, to give players and fans a lot to look forward to.
"You've seen it, you watch the news here, and you see the pieces that we've added to the puzzle and changes we've made. Everybody is excited about it," Reed said. "We had a really good OTA before we broke. (Owens) is one of the pieces that we added and just looking forward to getting him out there and him scoring touchdowns for us. We do feel like we are a stronger team this year, adding that piece, and we have another threat on the field. We just have to make sure that we utilize every piece."
Running back Fred Jackson was also one of the first to report to camp. With his new contract set, Jackson is ready to get on the field and do his job. He sees big things for Buffalo this season, with a different kind of optimism than in years past.
"We are all excited about it," Jackson said. "Even Terrell Owens, himself, is excited about what we can do. We're just looking forward to it and we want to make some plays this year and do some things that we haven't done in a while. That's what we're excited about."
"(Owens) is a dynamic weapon," Jackson added. "He has always been a playmaker and he has always made plays wherever he's been, so he's going to take a lot of pressure off of the other guys on the field that are on offense for us. We are excited about what he brings to the table and we're looking forward to the opportunity to play with him."
Training camp is the final chance for the offense to spend time working together, making it important for veterans and rookies alike to report on time. This will be the first time rookies will be exposed to NFL-level contact. The veterans will be able to assist them, but will also be adjusting to the changes within the scheme themselves.
Getting ready for the season can be very challenging for an offensive line, especially with the wholesale changes up front for Buffalo this season. However, with an additional preseason game, and an early start to camp, the Bills have some time to get themselves properly prepared.
Center Geoff Hangartner knows what lies ahead for him and his teammates the next three and a half weeks won't be easy, but their collective confidence in unaffected.
"I'm excited about the group we have on the offensive line," he said. "I really like the guys that we have in there. We just need to come together as a unit. And obviously we've got a lot of playmakers and guys that handle the ball. We've got a lot of great, explosive playmakers there, so I'm excited about what we could do on offense this year."
The next few weeks will be a pretty good indication if the players' optimism is warranted. Some outside observers may still be skeptical, but to a man the players agree that if they can pull things together effectively in camp, the alterations and additions will be for the better.