Bills head coach Sean McDermott stated at the start of training camp that he felt LeSean McCoy looked stronger and faster than he did last season. That might be hard for some to believe knowing father time is undefeated and McCoy is now 30 years of age.
Coming off a season in which McCoy had the lowest yards per carry average of his career (4.0), the naysayers are pushing the narrative that Buffalo's feature back is on the decline. McCoy heard the questions and was made aware of the doubters and used it as fuel to push himself through one of his most rigorous offseason training regimens of his career.
"This offseason I just put the extra work in," he said. "People take a lot of shots at running backs who are 30-years old and it's always a question. I feel I get it a lot lately, which I'm not used to, so it was something else to drive me. It got added onto chasing different things, yardage, wins, you name it. Whatever it is I always try to find something to get me going. This offseason I credit that as my motivation in pushing myself."
McCoy worked in south Florida most of the spring and summer when he didn't have to be at One Bills Drive for OTA practices or minicamp. He spent time training with Frank Gore, one of the only active backs who has more career rushing yards than him.
His next statistical goal is to eclipse the 12-thousand-yard mark for his career. Even though McCoy's yards per carry average in 2017 was the lowest single-season total of his career, he still finished fourth in the league in rushing yards.
But he now intends to use that figure as motivation for the regular season.
"I've just got to find ways to motivate myself and that's one of them," he said. "How can I have a more productive year than last year? What can I do better at? Like negative yards. It's little stuff.
"Having 4.0 a carry is one thing, but every week there's no secret the defense knows the game plan and what they have to do to stop me. It is what it is."
Check out photos of the Bills, as the team prepares to take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday in a Week 1 AFC matchup.
Phillip Gaines juggling roles
The starting right cornerback role and the nickel corner role have not been officially given to a defensive back on Buffalo's roster with the season opener just a few days away. Vontae Davis and Phillip Gaines have been battling for the right cornerback role, and Gaines is also competing with rookie Taron Johnson for the nickel spot.
It's put a lot on Gaines' plate as he prepares for Sunday, knowing he may play one position or the other, or both.
"You try not to put too much into it because it is football at the end of the day. If you get coached up on what to do then you just try to do it to the best of your ability," Gaines told Buffalobills.com. "That's the good thing about training camp and OTAs. You get a whole bunch of reps at everything. So, during that time I just tried to take it all in, whether it was nickel or corner or even special teams. Just go at it like that."
But how does Gaines divide his time between the responsibilities of the two positions in the film room?
"During meetings anytime that it's a nickel specific defense, I'll play attention to that," he said. "Then I'll look at the corner responsibilities too. Anytime I'm in meetings I just try to double up and look at both. Then at home it's the same thing. In this coverage I'm doing this at corner and I'm doing this at nickel. I just try to balance it up. Even on the sideline when nickel is on the field if Taron is on the field I'll try to get a mental rep that way."
Gaines is a new addition to Buffalo's defense and the scheme is in stark contrast to what he's played in previously in his career. That's why it's very comforting for him to know he has a pair of safeties behind him in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde who can get him lined up right if he's just a bit unsure.
"They know the defense like the back of their hand so anytime you have any hesitation it's best to look back at them and get some reassurance," said Gaines. "They'll be talking to you and letting you know what's what. So, it's a great feeling to know they're back there."
We likely won't know until Sunday whether Gaines spends more time on the boundary or inside.
Zay on Peterman's accuracy
By now most Bills fans are aware that Nathan Peterman was uncommonly accurate through the course of the preseason with an eye-popping 80.5 percent completion rate. Going beyond just the completions, the coaching staff and the players have commented on how precise Peterman's ball location has been.
He's not just putting the ball on a receiver, he's being mindful of what shoulder to put the ball on to enable his receiving target to get yards after the catch or to turn away from the pursuing defender.
Zay Jones explained how much Peterman sweats the details.
"Nate takes his game very seriously. He's very critical of himself and all the little nuances of his game. He's very meticulous in the way he goes about his work." Jones said. "Even in his film study he'll explain to us and say, 'This is where I'm going to place the ball.' And then he'll give an example or explain why he's doing it.
"Knowing the purpose behind what he's doing allows us to go out and play faster. For me it shows me what he's thinking, and I know what he wants. So, I'm going to try to go out and do it to the best of my ability."
Jones says Peterman, knowing every receiver is different, talks individually with many of his wideouts to find out what works best in terms of throw, target area and other details to maximize the success rate with each of them.