The smiles were wide as players walked through the entrance at One Bills Drive Tuesday. There was no mistaking that Buffalo's players were eager to get back to work and begin their preparations for the 2011 season.
"It feels good to have a job again," said receiver Stevie Johnson. "It feels good. Walking up to the building and going to see my locker and everything it feels good. Now the work begins."
The first player through the doors Tuesday was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who kept driving past the stadium until the time neared 10 am.
"I've been antsy to get in here," he said. "My wife was asking me why I was leaving so early. I've been dying to get in here."
Several Bills players were already in town as close to 20 made their way over to the team's practice facility Tuesday, while others were still en route to Buffalo. Those that did arrive met with their position coaches in short order to get playbooks and gear up for training camp, which opens on Friday.
"(We'll be) meeting with them as much as we can," said head coach Chan Gailey in reference to the players. "Explaining what our thought process is going in to this coming year. With the veteran guys, it'll be building on what we did last year. With the young guys, it'll be introducing them to the system. Offense, defense, special teams."
Gailey and his staff have a new course to navigate in terms of preparing the team for the 2011 season, but he believes they've got enough time to have the roster ready for the season opener at Kansas City.
"We'll get it done," he said. "It's going to take a little bit longer to get everything in, installation process will be a slower process than it has been in the past because you don't have as many practices but you will eventually get there it's just going to take a little bit longer."
With almost all of the starters on offense returning from last season, they're confident they can hit the ground running come practice time at St. John Fisher and get back in sync eventually.
"As long as we're doing our job and trying to come together as one then we should see some positive things out of this offense and out of this team," said Johnson. "I can't really put a number of days on it, but I feel like we should get there soon."
"I'm not concerned at all," said Fitzpatrick. "I think we're going to be fine. I think there might be more sloppiness in the preseason than… the preseason is always sloppy. That first week of practice there are going to be some adjustments that have to be made, but I think with the amount of time that we have now to prepare for the first game we're going to be fine."
Training camp opens on Friday at St. John Fisher, but the first full practice won't be held until Saturday. The full training camp schedule will be released soon on buffalobills.com.