Inside The Bills

Rookie G Miller angling for starting role

Posted by Chris Brown on May 19, 2015 – 10:46 am

Last week we mentioned how Rex Ryan confirmed that rookie third-round pick John Miller has been seeing work with the first unit during the team’s on field practice sessions without any opposition, which is the rule this time of year for field work. In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan took his outlook for the rookie guard a step further.

When asked if Miller stands a chance of being a starting guard when training camp opens, Ryan confirmed it’s a strong possibility.

“He might be the opening guy there,” said Ryan. “He’s been very impressive. I think right now that’s the most important thing just because we’re not going up against anybody. But this guy has a big, wide, square body and we are hitting bags and his technique is pretty good. He has really been impressive. For a kid you just took out of college, he jumps right in and he doesn’t make mistakes. So I think that’s going to give him an opportunity to showcase what he can do physically and I think he has the right makeup to be an outstanding player.”


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How QB competition is progressing

Posted by Chris Brown on May 19, 2015 – 9:43 am

The Bills have a quarterback competition that has already begun in earnest even though the team’s first set of OTA practices is still more than a week away. Here’s how things have been working in their sessions on the field knowing that the offense cannot have any opposition working against them.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan explained how they’re running two offenses at the same time at opposite ends of the field and how Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor are all rotating through with the first team offense.

“How we run things, we have a two spot drill going on at all times, so we’ve got two offenses going,” said Ryan. “What we do, because in this phase two you can’t have any type of opposition, we actually put lines on the field, like a big ‘V’ showing the defensive line and the linebackers and all that. And we get our plays in and we move it from the hash to the middle, left hash, right hash, all the way down the field. It is sharp with guys communicating and things like that. So there you can definitely get a feel for who these guys are and I’ve been impressed by all the quarterbacks. As far as the true evaluating that’s going to come in training camp and snapping the ball for real.”

With respect to the competition, Ryan insists it’s a legitimate three-way battle.

“Three guys for sure will be getting shots with the ones,” he said. “We’ve been doing it each day. Let’s say the first offense is running out there and it’s Matt Cassel the first day, then it’s EJ, then it’s Tyrod. All three are getting opportunities to lead and to be with that first group. It’s not like we’re going to just throw Matt Cassel in there every day or EJ every day. Tyrod is getting as many shots with the ones as the other two.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 6:09 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be on the WNY airwaves Tuesday morning. Here’s where you can find him and when. 

7 am – WCMF

7:15 am – WGR 550

7:30 am – 103.3 The Edge

 

 


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Henderson: Miller looks the part

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 2:03 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan volunteered the information earlier this week. During their on the field walk through sessions the offensive staff lined up rookie John Miller at one of the starting guard positions. Though it was far from real football Ryan said Miller didn’t miss anything and look like he belonged. His teammate Seantrel Henderson felt the same way.

“He’s ready,” said Henderson of Miller. “I feel like he’s a little more ready than I was last year and he’s been picking up on things ASAP. I’m excited to see him play.”

Out of Buffalo’s draft class Miller likely has the best chance to compete for a starting role.


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WR group has stiffest competition in a while

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2015 – 1:12 pm

The first OTA practice for the Bills is just under two weeks away, but it’s readily apparent that the competition at wide receiver might be the stiffest that’s been seen at One Bills Drive since the early 90’s clubs. Head coach Rex Ryan was asked to assess how he and his offensive assistants will whittle the candidate list from its current number of 13 down to five or six.

“We have a deep group of talented guys,” said Ryan. “Percy Harvin, I’m not willing to say there’s something that he can’t do that someone else can. I’m not so sure that’s possible.

“Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins those guys are pretty decent. (Chris) Hogan, he’s a talented guy, good athlete, catches the football, smart, productive, so it is going to be tough to make this team, there is no question about it.”

When asked if he will try to mix and match skill sets to cover all possible needs at the receiver position, Ryan maintained that keeping the best players is the best way to go.

“Different roles for things, yeah possibly, but I don’t want to limit anybody and say this guy is strictly a slot receiver,” he said. “Let’s have it work out and in the end if that’s the case then so be it. I just want to see it with open eyes and believe what I see.”


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How Rex wins players over

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 3:29 pm

Boobie Dixon might be one of the easiest sells for head coach Rex Ryan when it comes to winning a player over. Dixon’s approach to the game is much the same as Ryan’s. Do everything you can to win, but have fun doing it. Both also like to joke, which is perhaps why Ryan felt comfortable poking fun at the big back in one of the team meetings.

First, Ryan praised Dixon’s game both on offense and special teams. Remember it was Dixon that blocked a punt against Ryan’s Jets last season that Manny Lawson recovered for a touchdown in a 38-3 blowout win. Then he cracked on Dixon.

“He was just saying that he liked me and that I’ve got a nice style,” said Dixon. “He was telling all the guys that I might not be the prettiest guy in the room, but I get the job done. I’m not a super model so I was cool with that. We were just having some fun man and that’s what it’s about, having fun, winning games and building chemistry with your team. I have no problem with that.”

It’s how Ryan wins the locker room. Even when he’s cracking on a player he’s giving them credit in the same breath.


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Rex won’t rule out having 2 FBs on final roster

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 2:38 pm

With the signing of free agent FB John Conner Wednesday, Buffalo now has two of the better fullbacks in the league. But will there be enough work for both to be on their 53-man roster. Head coach Rex Ryan isn’t ruling it out as a possibility.

“Doug Whaley and I talk about it all the time—keep the best players,” said Ryan. “If that means two fullbacks, then so be it. Both Felton and John (Conner) can contribute on special teams as well. Clearly we brought Felton in to be the guy (at fullback), but it just so happens John Conner is still sitting out there. I know John, he’s a heck of a football player, he’s an excellent teammate, so let’s bring him in and let him compete. I would not be surprised if John makes our team.”

With the running back talent on the roster that you’d anticipate Buffalo keeping on their 53-man squad it is difficult to see both fullbacks sticking, but numbers could be sacrificed at perhaps another position if the coaching staff feels an exception is warranted.

Either way both fullbacks will be putting their best out on the field in training camp and the preseason and should make for one heck of a physical display.


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Report: Undrafted OT Collins signs with Dallas

Posted by Chris Brown on May 7, 2015 – 2:24 pm

LSU OT La’el Collins, who was taken off many draft boards last weekend due to his name being part of a murder investigavtion in Louisiana, has reportedly signed with an NFL club.

Per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Collins has signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, which is fully guaranteed. The Bills had expressed interest in Collins. Head coach Rex Ryan confirmed on Wednesday that he had dinner with Collins. That dinner reportedly took place Monday night.

Buffalo, Miami and Dallas reportedly showed the most interest in Collins, who was forecast as a first-round pick before the news of the murder of Collins’ ex-girlfriend surfaced right before the 2015 NFL draft.

What’s strange is why Collins to go to a club with one of the best offensive lines in the league rather than join a team with a better chance to get on the field sooner.

 


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Hughes creating havoc in practice

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2015 – 3:37 pm

Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes knows only one speed when it comes to playing football. It’s called full tilt. His speed off the edge was so good in minicamp practice Wednesday that head coach Rex Ryan had to pull him out of the lineup.

“This just in—I am really happy we signed Jerry Hughes,” said Ryan with a grin. “It’s rare that you have to pull a guy from practice because he’s ruining your practice. But I had to pull him today. If we were keeping track he might have had five-six sacks. It’s one of those deals, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s pull him out. Let’s get a pass off or something like that.’ He really did have that kind of day today.”

“He’s just got a tremendous motor and physical set and he really understands what they’re trying to get accomplished with their rush lanes,” said Matt Cassel. “Again when you come out and see it in person it’s pretty impressive.”

Ryan believes Hughes’ effectiveness comes from his ability to play bigger than his stature would indicate.

“He plays bigger than his frame. He’s like 255 or something, but he plays much bigger,” Ryan said. “You can put him anywhere too. He plays an end, plays outside backer. But he’s definitely a physical player. He’s a good athlete. Your great pass rushers have a feel for it, when do go inside, when to set up guys and all that—and he has it.  He’s kind of like a pitcher,  a starting pitcher, with about four or five pitches. He’s one of those nightmares to go up against.”


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Ryan: We’re not going slow

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2015 – 3:16 pm

It was day one of veteran voluntary minicamp for the Bills Tuesday, and though it’s a new offense and new defense for the players, the coordinators weren’t going slow.

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said with veteran play callers on both sides of the ball, they’ll be operating at a healthy tempo and installing at a good clip, within reason.

“No, I think we have a veteran coaching staff,” said Ryan when asked if they’ll take things slow at the outset. “We’ve been there and done it, from Greg Roman and Dennis Thurman-we’ve implemented defenses before and offenses before and you know the steps it takes. What you’re seeing right now are the proper steps going into it, where you’re not overloading it. Maybe if it’s a first year coordinator or something like that, I could see your point. But not here. And we are excited, there’s no question about it. But we also understand the process.”

The players said the tempo was good and things were run quickly on the first day on the practice field.


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Fan Friday 4-24

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2015 – 11:32 am

Veteran voluntary minicamp is up this week beginning Tuesday and will roll us right into the draft Thursday night. Remember to stay close to Buffalobills.com online and on your mobile devices for full coverage of the Bills 2015 draft class as it happens. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any shot the Bills can get in on Rivers? Something like EJ and this year’s 2 and 5 or EJ and next year’s 1?

RealSteveRhodes

CB: The Philip Rivers trade chatter exists because of the quarterback’s comments, not the GM’s. Rivers has backed off his comments recently. That doesn’t mean that teams won’t be inquiring about the veteran QB’s availability. In a down year for quarterbacks it’ll be interesting to see what NFL clubs would be willing to offer, but I think the asking price would be very high if Tom Telesco even entertains an offer in the first place.

It’s my belief your trade proposals above would have to be improved to make a deal even remotely possible. Not having a one to offer this year I think removes Buffalo from consideration, and that’s if San Diego even decides to talk turkey. In a down year for quarterbacks I wouldn’t want to be hitting the reset button at that position, especially when my QB was an NFL MVP candidate for the first half of the season in 2014.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

2 players #Bills need this draft. MyCole Pruitt and Chris Bonner, what’s your thoughts, opinions?

mattgolden03

CB: While I think there are a lot of things to like about Pruitt’s skill set, I don’t know that he’s a match for what Buffalo is looking for at tight end. Buffalo has the versatile playmaker in Clay and a potential athletic understudy in Marqueis Gray. Chris Gragg is a good straight line athlete, so what’s left? In a power run scheme Buffalo needs a tight end that is an accomplished blocker. If they can offer short to intermediate pass catching ability all the better.

Prospects in this year’s draft class who fit that bill as I see it are Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman and Delaware’s Nick Boyle. Heuerman probably comes off the board in day two and Boyle on day 3. Good, high character players as well.

As for Chris Bonner, I wouldn’t be opposed to using a seventh-round pick on the D-II QB prospect. For a 6-7 quarterback I’m impressed with the way he makes himself small in the pocket to avoid pressure, and then the feet he has for a 6-7 man, Bonner is pretty good at extending plays.

The basics of his arm mechanics are good. He’s got an over-the-top delivery. What he lacks right now is touch on the ball and arc. Too often he throws a laser no matter what type of route he’s targeting. Dropping throws in the bucket on deep outs or putting more loft on an over the shoulder pass are the things he needs work on.

What I think I like best about Bonner’s game is the way he’s able to avoid the inside rush in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and re-set his feet to deliver the ball. His throws aren’t always great, but a feel for pocket pressure is tough to find in young QBs. I’m confident some NFL team will try to develop him.

 

3 – Chris,

What positions do you expect the Bills to target? With RB out of the way, do you see tight end as logical choice? Given they are trying to win this year it would make sense to draft someone to plug n’ play to start. The Bills could use depth on defense but it is more likely they will target a guard or tight end? Or where do you seem them going elsewhere with #50?

Sean Robbins

CB: I think offensive line will be a major focus at 50 and if the right value is there at offensive tackle or guard I believe that’s where they go. Players I like for the Bills at 50 (assuming of course they’re still on the board) are G/C A.J. Cann, OT Cedric Ogbuehi (provided the knee checks out), OT Donovan Smith and G Laken Tomlinson.

If none of those prospects are on the board at 50 I think that’s when best on the board truly comes into play. A good all-around OLB/DE would make the most sense for me knowing Manny Lawson is entering the final year of his contract, but I think defensive back, inside linebacker, defensive tackle are all on the table there if the offensive line options are gone.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

I’m a longtime Bills fan now living in Kentucky and really appreciate all the hard work you do reporting the happenings at One Bills Drive. It seems the Bills with the support of the Pegula’s have assembled an all-star coaching staff.  Are there any league rules that limit or restrict the number of assistants a team can hire or that can be on the sidelines during a game?

Thank you,
Mark from Louisville

CB: Thanks for the kind words. To my knowledge there is no limit to the number of assistants a club can have on a coaching staff. And you’re right it is an all-star staff.

 

5 – Chris,
First of all thanks again for the great coverage of the Buffalo Bills. My question is about the offensive line and in particular the two starting tackles from the 2014 season. I recall either Doug Whaley or Rex referring to guard and tackle as a need, I thought the addition of tackle was interesting. I know the Bills have seen Cordy Glenn as a tackle in the past but I’ve heard many times that he could be one of the best guards in football if kicked inside. With a new staff and o-line coach do you think they may see as a guard? If this were to be the case that leaves a hole at left tackle clearly. Leading to my next question which is do you think Seantrel Henderson could swing over to the left side? I thought he had his rookie woes early against some top flight talent (Houston game against Watt) but got better as the season went on. Do you think he could be a starting left tackle? This move would also lead me to believe that Cyrus Kouandjio could have a legitimate chance at winning the right tackle spot. Thanks again, I look forward to your insight on these potential moves.

Go Bills!
Phil Dabowl

CB: I think all options are open. Doug Whaley, Rex Ryan and my conversation with offensive line coach Aaron Kromer are all consistent. They will look to find what the best combination of five linemen is best for the starting offensive line. That means no move is off the table.

That being said it’s my belief that Cordy Glenn is the best tackle on this roster right now. The coaches might feel differently and they have a trained eye for what works best far better than I do. Asking Seantrel Henderson to flip to the left side is not outlandish, but I think in his second NFL season might be a bit premature.

There’s little question that Henderson has the physical skill set to play on the left side, but his NFL readiness for that position is the key question. I think Cyrus Kouandjio will also be given every opportunity to be an offensive tackle for this team as opposed to guard.


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Gruden on Bills QB competition

Posted by Chris Brown on April 22, 2015 – 10:28 am

ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden weighed in on the impending Bills quarterback competition that will ensue next week during the team’s voluntary veteran minicamp.

On a national conference call this week, Gruden believes EJ Manuel could be aided by the addition of offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

“They’ve signed some quarterbacks. They’re going to have a three or four-man battle for the position,” Gruden said. “EJ Manuel is still a young player. I think the offensive coordinator coming over from San Francisco (Greg Roman) has dealt with a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick so maybe that will stimulate and help EJ.”

Gruden is also a big fan of Ryan as an NFL head coach.

“I’ve always liked Rex Ryan,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time over the years with the Jets coaching staff (when he was there) studying football. I really like his system. Getting Rex Ryan will be exciting for Bills fans and I think players will respond to him.”


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Rex’s role in draft decisions 

Posted by Chris Brown on April 20, 2015 – 2:54 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan and GM Doug Whaley are two men that see eye to eye when it comes to building a football team from personnel to playing style. So what does that mean for the level of input Ryan will be asked to provide when it comes to draft prospects?

Whaley at the team’s pre-draft press conference Monday indicated that Ryan will be able to weigh in just like the other coaching staffs.

“We always want to incorporate the coaches scouting process and their thoughts on players into what we’ve done,” said Whaley. “We started this process last May. We value what the coaches’ opinions on players and especially how they see them using them once they get to be Buffalo Bills. So we’ve done that with every coaching staff we’ve been a part of.”

 

 

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Rex looking most forward to O-line work

Posted by Chris Brown on April 17, 2015 – 2:16 pm

He’s a defensive coach by trade and a head coach by opportunity, but heading into his team’s first voluntary veteran minicamp in less than two weeks, Bills head coach Rex Ryan is looking forward to working with the offensive line the most.

One can understand why Ryan might be paying a bit closer attention to what offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and offensive coordinator Greg Roman decide to assemble up front on offense for the Bills. It’s a picture that is far being in focus. Knowing that his defense returns 10 of 11 starters from last season and has a special teams unit with most of its playmakers back from last year’s number two ranked unit, it makes sense that Ryan intends to spend some time around the offensive line as it takes shape.

“These three days that we have coming up…this voluntary minicamp before the draft…the thing that I’m most excited about is being with the offensive line,” Ryan said. “Being with Aaron Kromer; their position coach, Greg Roman; their system and things like but we have to get to know these players and all that.

“How the meetings that we’ve had, the classroom time carries over to the practice field. Can guys sustain it, carry it, things like that. We’ll see how all that goes. I think it’s too early to say that, ‘Hey: we’re going to plug this player in this spot. That player in that spot.’ I think that’s too early to tell right now. This will be more about teaching how we look at things. How we do things fundamentally and then get it out there collectively.”

Next to determining the starting quarterback, deciding on the starting five up front is probably the second biggest question mark heading into training camp this summer.


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Fred: Onus on offense to keep up with ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2015 – 1:23 pm

Last season the defense and special teams largely carried Buffalo to its 9-7 record. Now with the influx of talent on offense this offseason Fred Jackson sees the onus being on the offense to keep pace with their other two units.

“We’ve brought in some exciting talent and we’ve got to keep up with our defense,” Jackson said. “Our defense has made tremendous strides and we expect them to do the same this year. With the offensive firepower that we’ve brought in it’s on us as an offensive unit to keep up with those guys. They’re doing everything, the Pegulas, Doug (Whaley) and Russ (Brandon), they’re doing everything to make us better as a whole.”

Jackson only sees Buffalo’s defense improving this year with Jerry Hughes re-signed and nine of 11 starters back from last season. Not to mention the addition of head coach Rex Ryan and DC Dennis Thurman and their defensive track record.

“We faced that defense twice every year for the last six years and I know our defense is going to get that much better,” he said. “With the talent they have it’s going to be on us as an offense to keep up with them and if we can do that I think we’re be a very formidable team in this league. That’s the challenge that’s upon us. We have a great offensive coordinator that’s going to do his job and get us in all the right situations. And we’ve just got to go out and make plays.”


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Mario on defensive changes & possibilities

Posted by Chris Brown on April 15, 2015 – 4:59 pm

Bills DE Mario Williams used the word ecstatic when asked how he feels about the team’s new defense under Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. So just what is Williams and his defensive teammates finding to be different under the new scheme?

“Well, the biggest thing is last year was pretty much a 4-3,” said Williams. “Obviously with  the scheme with Rex, anything’s possible so I think right now, we’re just doing building blocks but the sky’s the limit so I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of changes and things like as we progress and become re-adapted to a hybrid defense.”

Williams admitted there will be some carry over from the defense they ran in 2013 under former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, but Ryan and Thurman’s defense will have the ability to morph and change week to week to take advantage of the talent and the matchups on a given Sunday.

“Understanding the defense; I love it.  It gives everybody ample opportunities to do different things and just be able to bring different looks, different angles, and attacks…stuff like that so I’m ecstatic.”


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Rex: Watkins to be full go at training camp

Posted by Chris Brown on April 15, 2015 – 2:01 pm

Sammy Watkins underwent a procedure on his hip after his rookie season with the Bills reached a conclusion. Though Watkins is able to work out to participate in some capacity in the team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program, head coach Rex Ryan said not to expect to see Watkins doing much in the way of football related work until August.

“My understanding is Sammy is doing really well,” said Ryan. “We’re not going to see him out there until training camp. But he should be full go when we get to training camp.”

Watkins said he is feeling good.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I’m just getting back to working out, having fun with the guys,” Watkins said. “I’m just happy to be with the team and great coaches. I just have to keep getting better.”

Watkins in encouraged by his progress and is on board with the regimen prescribed for him by the team’s athletic training staff.

“I just believe in our staff. They’re doing a great job. I’ve just got to keep working hard,” he said. “Everything has been going good. I’m healing. They’re working me out the right way. They keep me motivated and I’ve just got to keep getting better.”

 


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Rex Ryan SI cover

Posted by Chris Brown on April 15, 2015 – 9:45 am

For those that haven’t seen it yet, here’s the Rex Ryan Sports Illustrated cover with Bills Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas.

It’s a regional cover, not a national cover for the magazine to go along with the story by Jenny Vrentas.

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10 players had offseason procedures

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 3:03 pm

As the players returned for the first day of the voluntary offseason conditioning program there were some who were not yet cleared for participation due to offseason procedures. 

Head coach Rex Ryan listed those players. 

“Dan Carpenter, Anthony Dixon, Stephon Gilmore, Chris Gragg, Chris Hogan, Fred Jackson, Leodis McKelvin, Sammy Watkins, Aaron Williams, and Chris Williams,” said Ryan. 

“I will say this about everyone’s injury: we expect every one of our players to be ready to roll at training camp. So, nothing that we see injury-wise, in our opinion right now, will prevent these guys from being full-go at training camp.”


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Rex: players must take advantage of this time

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 10:30 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has the utmost respect for the fact that the team’s offseason conditioning program is voluntary, but with new offensive and defensive schemes to implement in classroom sessions there’s a valuable opportunity for his players to take advantage of being at One Bills Drive.

“I think the big thing is the players have to take it upon themselves to take advantage of our strength coaches with Eric (Ciano) and Hal (Luther) and everybody down there,” Ryan told Buffalobills.com. “Take advantage of them. We’ve got to be in shape. That way when you get a chance to get on that field you can show a good account of yourself.

“The mental part of it is huge as well in the classroom. But the physical part and being with our strength coaches and getting themselves ready to play, where you’re not worried about your conditioning to get through the practice, so you can implement what you’re learning in the classroom.”

Players have been reporting on a voluntary basis this morning as today starts the team’s offseason conditioning program.


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