BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The off-season, training camp, and preseason have been anything but normal. As the Buffalo Bills coaching staff continued to plan and make adjustments, they had one of the best to ever do it join them virtually.
"We had coach Joe Gibbs come in and talk to our staff come in and o a Zoom to talk about that 1982 season, and of course, they ended up winning the Super Bowl," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "He did a really good job of getting all of us to embrace this moment and look at it as an opportunity."
With two playoff appearances in the last three years, and a multi-year extension for head coach Sean McDermott, the opportunity in front of the Bills is nothing new. But the lineup isn't set in stone; new faces have led to competitions on both sides of the ball.
"With the experience that Josh [Norman] brings to the table, that sets him apart in a lot of ways," Frazier said. "Levi [Wallace] has done a really good job with us. He's continued to improve every year, and I think it's going to be a good competition."
"The players are going to have to do a great job of going out there day by day and laying it on the line," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "You're always going to have to mix and match linemen because you never know when you're going to need one to play another spot."
No one in Orchard Park is fighting more of an uphill battle than rookies, though. The lost time due to COVID-19 has added another challenge to their already steep learning curve.
"It's new for them all, but at the end of the day, it's football," Daboll said. "I think you have to have some patience with them, too, you know it's not going to be perfect. Show them off the tape, teach them off the tape, and then let them do it again."
"A.J. [Epenesa] has done a terrific job in our Zoom meetings and spending time with Eric Washington, and you can really see that when we go out and do our walk-throughs," Frazier said. "Until we get pads on and get moving, you don't really know how much he or the other rookies are going to help you out in 2020."
Daboll and Frazier have both been impressed with Buffalo's young building blocks on both sides of the ball and how they've handled the virtual off-season and continued to grow, as well.
"[Tremaine Edmunds]'s growth that he's had; in these walk-throughs, you can see it," Frazier said. "You see his hunger and his desire to grow and develop as a player. I mean, he still approaches it like he's a rookie."
"The skill set improves, they get bigger and stronger from year one to year two," Daboll said. "Our guys are putting everything they've got into it. And we're trying to give them everything they can to improve this year."