There is a positive vibe around the Bills right now. The team is getting better with every training camp practice, players have come back healthier and stronger than ever, and Josh Allen just signed a massive extension that will keep him in town for at least the next eight years.
Allen's teammates and coaches could not be happier for him, with some saying that no one deserves it more. Allen said during Friday's press conference that he's being paid for what he's going to do, not what he's done in the past. For some players in the NFL, once they get paid their attitude and play on the field drops off. Dawson Knox knows that it won't happen to Allen.
"It's not going to change Josh, you can pay him $150 bucks and he's going to go out and ball out," Knox said. "You're not going to be able to tell with him."
Check out the best photos of practice action and fans from Saturday's open practice at Highmark Stadium.
This contract will drive Allen to prove that he is worth it, just like he said when he got drafted by the team. Allen couldn't hold his excitement for very long on Friday as he told some of his teammates before the news broke. Allen told Jon Feliciano early Friday morning that a deal was very close to being finalized. Feliciano said that he's grumpy in the morning, so the news didn't really click until later that afternoon.
"On the way back, as I parked, I saw the tweet and I started getting teary-eyed," Feliciano said. "Josh is such a good person, a dude who came from nothing, a little farmer, his mom and dad are great people. Coming in when he was a second-year dude, he was raw and feisty and just wanted to go at everyone's neck. To see him what he's doing now, and to get paid as he should, I'm happy for him."
Both Allen and the Bills front office wanted a fair deal that worked for the quarterback and the team. With Allen committed to staying in Buffalo for the long term, he wanted to make sure that the front office would still be able to build around him in the future. That's very important to his teammate Stefon Diggs, who is thrilled for his quarterback and hopes the two can continue to play together for a long time.
"I was extremely excited. It was definitely something that we talked about a little bit in camp," Diggs said. "… I was just happy that it got done because he's a hell of a quarterback and after this season, his price tag probably would have gone up a little higher too. So, I want to be with him for a little while so hopefully it can happen, but I was happy for him."
Earlier this spring, Diggs revealed that he played through the 2020 postseason with a torn oblique. It happened right before the Week 17 game against the Dolphins, but Diggs wasn't going to complain about it. He knew his team needed him throughout their playoff run, and it's stunning that he still had 20 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns while being injured. Diggs said after Saturday's practice, that he is fully healed and isn't worried about it anymore.
"As far as with the playoffs, I'm not a big guy on excuses so I didn't really want to bring it up or even talk about it," Diggs stated. "Everybody knew I had a little injury, but they didn't know the severity or how serious it was. So, during the offseason you're not doing too much, I just took that time to heal up. It's definitely something that I'm not going to ever make an excuse for."
For Jon Feliciano, his first two offseasons with the Bills were clouded by injuries. He dealt with a torn rotator cuff in 2019 and suffered a torn pec in 2020. This year is completely different. He was able to work hard this offseason on his mind and his body and he lost 20 pounds. Feliciano said after practice that he feels quicker and that having a regular offseason is a big advantage.
"It's been huge, I think that's why I lost so much weight," Feliciano said. "Just to be able to work on myself. With that extra time, I took not coming back for OTAs and stuff, I feel as healthy as I've been. I feel like the way I've been playing in practice has been evidence of that."
Injuries also took away from Dawson Knox's 2020 season. Along with getting COVID, Knox felt like he couldn't get into a rhythm in the offense until late last season. He put a lot of work in this summer with a hand-eye coordination coach and attended the Tight End University, put on by Greg Olsen, George Kittle, and Travis Kelce. The Bills tight end learned a lot from the summit and looks forward to going again next offseason. Knox has confidence in himself going into year three and he is ready to show what he is capable of.
"Having two full years under your belt in the same offense is crucial, especially for me," Knox said. "… I've been learning that there's such a thing as being open too early, he might not be looking at you yet. Just knowing those little steps and knowing how to critique my game that way is going to be big. But going into Year three in the same system is awesome."