The Bills' plans to make greater use of the no-huddle offense this season will be an adjustment for just about every offensive player on the team except for one -- running back Dominic Rhodes.
Although Rhodes is new to the team, he is accustomed to the no-huddle approach because of his seven years of experience with the Colts, who also employ it extensively.
The system calls for the offense to move at a much quicker pace, and will take a lot of practice for players accustomed to huddling before a play. The hurry-up offense, which was the signature of Buffalo's Super Bowl teams, will allow the Bills to waste less time and to exploit weaknesses in the opponents' defense.
Much of the stress will be on quarterback Trent Edwards, who will approach the line of scrimmage with a called play, but has the option to change it depending on the defensive scheme.
Rhodes experienced the no-huddle offense with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and there is no question Manning and Edwards are two quarterback at very different stages in their careers. However, knowing that they have veteran like Rhodes around makes the transition easier for Edwards and the rest of the offense.
"It's pretty much the same," Rhodes said. "I mean, from my rookie year I was running it, so it's been a pretty easy transition for me to come over here. I mean, it feels like the same thing I've been doing my whole career. I come over here and we don't huddle up. We huddled a little bit more in Indy. It doesn't seem too fast paced right now, so I'm able to basically get all the plays in my head I process them pretty quick, and it's pretty easy."
Eric Studesville, the Bills' running game coordinator/running backs coach, has been working with Rhodes and the team's other running backs, including Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, on the no-huddle scheme.
Studesville is happy with the way the Bills have adapted to the no huddle so far, and stresses the importance of Edwards being able to connect well with every running back.
"We try to make it where there's not a difference between one back or the other," Studesville said. "We're going to be consistent on how we do it, so Trent doesn't have to adjust to anything. He's got confidence in all of us, with every aspect of it whether it's run, pass, or protection."
Rhodes' experience with the Colts has been a major factor in his ability to easily pick up the Bills' system and help his teammates do the same, according to Studesville.
"He understands all of the fundamentals, he brings veteran leadership to our line, and he fits in great with the guys," said Studesville. "They've really taken to him."
Having been comfortable with Manning, Rhodes knows he will have to work at adjusting to Edwards. He also has to learn new terminology.
"(Edwards) is doing real well with it; I mean, he's been the general out here that we need," Rhodes said. "That's what you have to have. You have to have a quarterback out there that can lead you when you go into the huddle, because if not, then nobody will get the plays right."
For Edwards, the greatest challenge of learning how to run the no-huddle offense is preventing the opposing defense from anticipating the calls he makes at the line.
"(It's) making sure you're changing some things up, making sure you're putting in some double moves, you're putting in some dummy calls in there, too," Edwards said. "That's what's difficult about the no-huddle offense; it's pretty easy for a defense to pick up on some calls."
Head coach Dick Jauron also understands the difficulties that come along with the hurry up attack.
"The feeling is, it doesn't take a lot to huddle; almost anybody can figure out how to huddle," Jauron said. "To do it the other way on the line, it takes a little more work. So because you're always in it in two-minute mode anyway, all this practice is going to be good for us.
"It involves a lot more communication, which is another reason we're spending so much time on it. So far, they have grasped it well. They have done a good job with it. We like it, we like the tempo, we like it in practice, and we would like to use it in a few more games."
Having no-huddle experience gives Rhodes the chance to analyze other challenges that will come along when Buffalo uses the hurry-up offense. When Rhodes was first exposed to it, he faced similar struggles and he expects the Bills will experience them as well.
"Basically just getting the breathing right. It's definitely a fast paced deal, and most guys aren't used to moving that fast and everything," said Rhodes. "And just making sure you're fundamentally sound. A lot of guys forget the plays and stuff when you're moving that quickly. I think that's the biggest adjustment.
"I think most of these guys are just being professionals and taking on the challenges, learning all the plays and stuff, and learning how to transition in the no huddle. They're coming along pretty good."