ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills are back in town. The team kicked off their Training Camp period Wednesday morning in Orchard Park for the first of many practices ahead of the regular season.
General Manager Brandon Beane spoke to the media ahead of the team's first practice, commenting on Allen's contract extension status and the current state of the locker room following a busy summer of social media posts by players. Below are five takeaway's from Beane's press conference.
Socia media = not a distraction
The vaccination has been a hot topic for several players, most notably Cole Beasley who’s been very outspoken when it comes to his stance and decision to not get vaccinated. There was even a thread between the Bills wide receiver and veteran Jerry Hughes [who missed the first day of Camp and is on the non-football injury list] as the two went back and forth with their personal opinions.
Despite the constant discussions and social media posts, Beane says it’s not a distraction.
“We’ve got professionals and we allow them to express their views, as long as it’s not going to be a distraction,” Beane said before the team’s first camp practice. “We don’t believe anything is. I think when we get back out on the grass playing football, you’ll see what our guys are focused on and they’re focused on winning.”
Players continue to educate themselves
COVID is still a thing, and the Bills front office is well aware. The first day of training camp saw two players [Dion Dawkins, Ike Boettger] unable to practice because they’ve been placed on the COVID/Reserve List.
Coaches around the league have said it will be difficult to get things done the way they want, if some of their players have certain restrictions in place by being unvaccinated. While the coaches have said they aren’t forcing anything on their players, they do continue to educate them… and players have taken things in their own hands as well.
As of Wednesday, Beane said just over 80% of their players have had at least one dose of the vaccine. In addition, all coaches are fully vaccinated. With a few weeks before the regular season, that vaccination threshold could climb.
Still on the hunt
The Bills are coming off their most successful season in the last two decades, making it all the way to the AFC Championship game before falling short of a trip to the Super Bowl.
Expectations are once again high for an experienced Bills squad that brings back quite a few players from last season. You could say the Bills have become “the hunted”. Beane knows that, especially when it comes to the AFC East crown. He also knows while the Bills are being “hunted”, they’re doing some hunting of their own.
"Until you win it, in my mind, we’re still hunting," Beane said. "Will people be hunting us? Yes. But I think our guys understand that what we did last year doesn’t mean anything and let’s push the reset button.”
Emphasis on the importance of special teams
The Bills have always put an emphasis on special teams and this season is no different. Andre Roberts last season, while having a limited role in the receiving game, was key for the team on special teams and Taiwan Jones expects to do the same this season with some limited time in the backfield.
Beane and company value those players, and they value anyone that can contribute to that unit, even if they’re 2nd/3rd string guys at their particular position.
“Sean and I have had meeting with all these guys when they check in for physicals. We tell them, ‘hey if you don’t get that starting job, you better be in [special teams coordinator] Heath Farwell’s pocket and you need him telling us how much he needs you in the two or three phases’,” Beane said. “That’s how you’re going to get a jersey on game day.”
No new progress on Josh Allen’s contract extension
Allen is coming off a record-breaking and his most productive season since joining the Bills [4,544 yds, 37 TDs, 10 INT]. He’s expected to be even more efficient this season, especially with the majority of his wide receiving corps returning to the Bills lineup.
Following his performance last season, a lot of talk has surrounded QB Josh Allen and keeping him in Buffalo long-term. Both sides would like to get a deal done soon, but it has to be a good deal for both sides.
“There’s no momentum or anything like that,” Beane said about Allen’s deal following a few deals around the league. “We’ve had great conversations since he got back here. If something were to get done we’d be excited, but if not, we both know we’ll work hard next year to get it done.”
QB Lamar Jackson is currently in talks with the Baltimore Ravens regarding an extension. Allen could wait to see what Jackson’s deal looks like before finalizing anything.