Jackson Roberts & Mat Mlodzinski
Updated: August 08, 2022 05:20 PM
Created: July 27, 2022 07:02 PM
(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) - The Buffalo Bills returned to Saint John Fisher for 2022 training camp, their first time in the Flower City since 2019.
That meant Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Von Miller, and the rest of the Buffalo Bills are one step closer to a season where their considered the favorites to win the Super Bowl by some.
Takeaway 1: QB Room is tight
Josh Allen, Case Keenum, and Matt Barkley are the three quarterbacks on the Bills roster, and together they form a triple threat.
"I think the good part about this room is there's no malice or anyone trying to cut anyone in this room, which is good. Everyone trusts each other and just wants to best for each other," said Barkley.
Although, that's easy when you've got number 17 on your side.
Takeaway 2: Bills defense taking over
The Bills defense had a monster day on Monday - especially from the defensive line. In turn, the offensive line sees how that's helping get them better.
"Brandon (Beane) brought in a plethora of guys who can really play defensive line. It's an embarrassment of riches almost and it's not lost upon us as an offensive line that we have an opportunity to go against a great defense," said Mitch Morse.
Takeaway 3: ALMOST OVER??
Sorry to say this, but training camp doesn't last forever.
And it's weird even writing this, becasue it feels like it just started, but camp is only two practices away from wrapping up.
However, it's on to better things! Buffalo gets their first official test on Saturday at home against the Indianapolis Colts.
Takeaway 1: Mitch Morse is becoming a leader
Maybe "becoming" isn't quite the right word. Morse has been a leader for some time already due to his reliability. But now it's being seen even more by his teammates.
"I love his attitude, I love his outlook, and I love the fact he comes out and just works incredibly hard every day. I mean, there's not a snap. He's not going, you know, full bore," said offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.
Takeaway 2: Rodger Saffold is back
The Bills picked up the former Tennessee Titans OL during free agency, but before training camp, he injured his ribs in a car accident.
On Sunday, Saffold returned and didn't look very limited at all, granted in a lighter practice of sorts. It's a big get back, as Saffold is expected to start on the offensive line.
Takeaway 3: Reggie Gilliam has found a home
How can you not love Reggie Gilliam?
He comes from a humble background - playing at Toledo and carrying the mindset of an underdog. But Gilliam has found a role as a fullback in Buffalo, and he embraces it.
"Reggie is a swiss army knife. you could put a plug him in a fullback tight end running back. It doesn't matter. You know, he he just wants to help the team win," said Greg Rousseau.
Day 10 (Return of the Blue & Red)
Takeaway 1: Von Miller gets united with Bills Mafia
If there's one player Bills nation wanted to see more than the rest - perhaps even above Josh Allen and his red helmet - it was Von Miller.
The two-time Super Bowl champ and future Hall of Famer made his first appearance in front of Bills fans at Highmark Stadium in the Return of the Blue & Red.
Takeaway 2: Diggs is the man
Stefon Diggs signed autographs for at least a half-hour after the game. There's no denying how much he loves playing in Buffalo and he shows his appreciation by giving back to the fans.
Takeaway 3: It's a Bills world and we're all living in it
Roughly 36,000 people came to watch the Buffalo Bills.
For a practice.
Rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir joked that he hadn't seen that many people show up for a game at Boise State. It shows how much Bills fans love this team, even if it isn't the preseason just yet.
Takeaway 1: Von Miller and Bills Mafia are the perfect pair
Ever since making one small statement on the challenges of living in a dorm room for training camp, Von Miller has come to love everything about the Buffalo Bills.
That includes the fans, who ended up shipping off toilet paper in droves to help ease Miller's transition.
"The people of Buffalo are the people of Rochester and just Bills, fan Bills fans in general are great. I mean, fans are always great. But, you know, this is this is this is just different," said Miller.
Takeaway 2: The Buffalo Bruisers?
If you wanted a theme to the 2022 Bills Training Camp it might as well be UFC 278.
It seems as if every single day a fight breaks out due to guys going hard, trying to earn spots, and competing at that high of a level. And somehow, the guys on the team aren't fazed.
"Good teams sometimes fight. You know, guys want want it so bad. Guys are very competitive. Guys push each other. So you saw a little, little tempers flare again today. And again, that's all because we want to win," said Josh Allen.
For what it's worth, Allen wasn't involved this time.
Takeaway 3: Khalil Shakir
The wide receiver room has been a hot topic throughout training camp. You would think it would be Jamison Crowder and Tavon Austin both competing for big roles. While that's not untrue, the real surprise has been Khalil Shakir, the rookie out of Boise State.
Every day, it seems as if Shakir makes some great catches and runs nice routes. If that continues, you can add his name to the growing WR room in Buffalo.
Takeaway 1: Injuries are becoming a concern
We get it, injuries are going to happen in football and especially in training camp. But when a third member of the secondary goes down, it certainly makes you wonder about what's next to come.
Jordan Poyer injured his left elbow at practice Tuesday and Adam Schefter first reported it's looking like it might be a few weeks until he returns to the field. The timetable does make it so Poyer would be back on time for game one against the Los Angeles Rams, but it certainly is making Bills Mafia hold their breath a little.
There's a reason why Buffalo went out and grabbed Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford in the NFL Draft. It had to do with not knowing how Tre White would be coming back from his knee injury. But now, these rookies may have to step up.
Takeaway 2: Christian Benford's stock is rising
What a perfect transition!
The rookie out of Villanova has looked all the part of a draft pick, showing why FCS and FBS shouldn't matter as much as pure talent.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier has also been excited about how Benford carries himself.
"He has a certain maturity that you kind of like to see and he doesn't back down in any situation and we're looking forward to just continuing to watch him progress," said Frazier.
Takeaway 3: What's next for Isaiah McKenzie?
McKenzie is heading into his fourth full season and fifth overall in Buffalo. Even with newcomers Tavon Austin and Jamison Crowder, it seems as if McKenzie has carved himself a bigger role than past years.
Before, the question used to be whether or not McKenzie will make Buffalo's active roster and/or be a valuable part of the offense. Now, it's all about how much more he can contribute to the squad.
Takeaway 1: Tight knit squad, but tensions are still there
For a second straight day at camp, a fight broke out. This one involved a few more players including Boogie Bashahm who could be seen throwing a few punches. But the Bills calmly broke it up and went back to work, showing that it's nothing more than a bunch of guys eager to be on the football field.
There will be all sorts of opinions and talk about the Bills fighting with their own players, but the guys who are actually on the team don't seem to be concerned.
Takeaway 2: Kaiir Elam's confidence is soaring
Technically, it's always been there. At least that's how Elam explains it after telling the media he doesn't prefer to be called a rookie.
There was nothing arrogant about that statement either. Rather, the first-round pick out of Florida really believes in his abilities.
"We're looking forward to watching his maturation over time. We're looking forward to his progress," said Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Takeaway 3: Can Ed Oliver make the next step?
Oliver is only 24 years old and has faired just fine in his short NFL career. But with Von Miller lining up beside him, it makes you wonder - how much better can Oliver be this season?
Sean McDermott and Miller have both said positive things about Oliver, including his improvements during training camp. And Oliver is excited about how the whole group can put it all together.
"We've got a feel for each other right now. Just carrying that over to the season is going to be key," said Oliver.
Takeaway 1: The fight heard 'round the world
We've all seen the video. Jordan Phillips bumps Josh Allen and he takes exception to it. We could talk for days about whether or not it was intentional or if Allen should've responded. But what's more important is that the team is looking past it.
"When Josh comes out like that and has a in motion like that and you definitely catches your eye, but in the end, it's one of those things that never takes away the locker room," said offensive lineman Mitch Morse.
Takeaway 2: An update on Hyde
Micah Hyde was listed as day-to-day after colliding with Stefon Diggs and Sean McDermott gave a brief update on his injury status. It can be described as soreness - likely just a little banged up. With an off day on Sunday, Hyde could be back as soon as Monday.
Takeaway 3: Competition can be friendly
Jobs might be on the line at training camp, but when it comes down to it, everyone's still on the same team. That's how Matt Araiza and Matt Haack are treating the punting battle.
"The fact that he's an open book and I can go ask him questions, I think is a huge help to me and like I said, just shows his character," said Araiza.
Takeaway 1: Injury concerns for Micah Hyde
The only takeaway that really mattered on Friday - Micah Hyde went down with a slight injury to his hip and glute area and didn't return to practice.
It's important not to get ahead of ourselves. Training camp is not the place to put any injuries to the test, so even the smallest bang-up can still warrant a day or two off.
The one positive - Buffalo should be happy about the depth they have at the safety position with Jordan Poyer. Contract talks anyone?
Takeaway 2: The countdown to pads
So far, practice has been held with no pads, per NFL rules. That changes on Saturday, when the BIlls will be able to begin practicing in full pads. Of course, as a contact sport, that effects every position, especially the defense.
"The rules in the offseason program are kind of prohibitive in some ways when it comes to what you're trying to get accomplished. But in training camp the reigns are kind of taken off and you can really get after a little bit, being able to wear pads," said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Takeaway 3: A breakout year for Dawson Knox?
Few Buffalo players broke out in the way Dawson Knox did last season, finishing second on the Bills in receiving touchdowns. But even with his growth as a player, Knox's leadership style isn't as loud as you might expect.
"I've never been like the rah rah guy in the huddle but I think it's important just to make sure guys are doing well mentally too, because I know when I was a rookie, my head was spinning, said Knox.
Takeaway 1: A new offensive coordinator doesn't mean a totally new scheme
Dion Dawkins stated the somewhat obvious, that although Ken Dorsey might be new to his position, he's not new to the Buffalo Bills. Dorsey's been with the team since 2019 and has worked his way up to the OC position quite rapidly.
Dorsey also has a plan on what he wants the Bills' identity to look like.
"We want to play fast with speed and that's finishing runs, getting the ball in their hands, and being explosive and making plays with the ball in their hands. We want to be physical, so that's finishing runs, lowering your pad level, splitting defenders, trying to get that extra yard or two. And then we want to be disciplined about how we do things with our assignments and being in the right spots and having a great ball location to be able to allow those guys to do that," said Dorsey.
Takeaway 2: Von Miller makes everyone better
Dion Dawkins is a quotebook in himself and when talking about Von Miller, he could have filled a novel. Dawkins likened Miller to Michael Jordan, described the future Hall of Famer's hits with sound effects, and said just about everything in between.
"I can't imagine if Von was here for six years. Imagine how good all of us would be. By adding him, it's definitely physical already. He has one speed and that speed is greatness," said Dawkins.
Takeaway 3: Just a better day from start to finish at Bills camp
Bills camp was rough on Tuesday. Let's just get that out of the way.
But Wednesday made up for any shortcomings. Energy was better, players made plays, and everything just seemed more crisp. Training camp is going to have some days where growing pains of starting a new season with some new players is obvious. Days like Wednesday are good reminders of why this Buffalo Bills team is Super Bowl favorites.
Takeaway 1: Tavon Austin's drive is rubbing off on the other WRs
It's been mentioned before but it's worth noting that Austin is out to prove something this year. Before playing in thirteen games last year, he played a combined eight in the previous three seasons. Austin, 32, is motivated to show he's still got something left in the tank and Stefon Diggs has taken notice.
"He's a legend, I'm saying, and having time, having a chance opportunity to play with him, how can you derive or bring some motivation to the table," Diggs said. "How can you continue to push him and how can he push me?"
Takeaway 2: Tremaine Edmunds isn't letting a contract year distract him
The Linebacker has made a noticeable difference for the Bills since he was drafted in the first round of 2018. He became the first player in NFL history with two seasons of 100+ tackles by the time he turned 21. Edmunds, a Pro Bowl selection last year, registered 70 solo tackles and an additional thirteen in the playoffs. Now, he's approaching the final year of his contract. However, Sean McDermott is impressed with how well he's blocked that off.
"He's done everything we've ever asked since day one," the HC said. "And he's a consummate pro...right now, he's just got to go out there and play his best football. And I think he's off to a great start with that."
Takeaway 3: Josh Allen knows how to make a fan's day
QB1's love for Bills Mafia is well documented but today he took it to another level. Allen gifted two fans from Rochester his cleats after they didn't have any paraphernalia for anyone to sign.
Takeaway 1: Dawson Knox hasn't changed
It's a contract year for Knox. He's coming off a career-year in receiving touchdowns, yards, and catches. He has all the right to act like the superstar he's becoming.
Yet he's not.
"I just want to keep building on what I did last year and just have that same kind of edge to me that I haven't really proven what I need to prove yet," said Knox.
Takeaway 2: Gabriel Davis has always been a star
Davis emerged as a superstar in the NFL's eyes after hauling in eight receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Divisional Round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in January.
While that game served as his official breakout performance, Stefon Diggs has always viewed Davis as a star.
"It was more so everybody else saw it rather than man, we saw because I wasn't surprised that anything that he did that game," said Diggs.
Takeaway 3: Khalil Shakir is a name to watch
After Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley parted from the Bills in the offseason, it seemed apparent that Buffalo would target a wide receiver in the NFL Draft. They did so by grabbing Khalil Shakir out of Boise State in the fifth round.
While Shakir isn't expected to earn too many snaps right away, he is a prospect that could develop into something as the season rolls along. And he's already taking notes on how Diggs and Josh Allen carry themselves.
"You see what they've done in their career so far, and they're getting better and better and better. That's exactly what I want to do with my career every single day," said Shakir.
Takeaway 1: Happy to be back
There's no denying that Rochester is an awesome spot for the Bills to hold training camp. COVID wouldn't allow it to take place at St. John Fisher the past two years, so for the first time since 2019, the Buffalo Bills are back.
"We love it coming up here. I think it's great for our players, great for our team. It gives us a chance to connect with fans in this area that might not be able to come down to Buffalo for whatever reason," said Bills General Manager Brandon Beane.
Takeaway 2: Josh Allen enters elite territory
Over the past few seasons, Josh Allen has gone from overrated, to underrated, to a star in this league. After another stellar regular season and a valiant effort against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2022 Divisional Round, Allen has reached another level of stardom. He's an MVP favorite, and it's no secret that Bills fans in Rochester are out to see him more than anyone else.
"We're doing a two minute walk through where, you know, we're supposed to catch the ball like the defense isn't going to do anything and they're going crazy for us when we score a touchdown. So it's it's a lot of fun," said Allen.
Takeaway 3: It's still Sean McDermott's team
A lot was said about Brian Daboll's exit to the New York Giants. Most of it was not ill-mannered, as Buffalo Bills fans knew he deserved a crack at a head coaching job. But the coach behind a lot of the Bills' success hasn't gone anywhere, and he too thinks holding training camp in Rochester has its benefits.
"Getting away allows us a chance to come together as a team, spend some time together, maybe after meetings, before practice, get guys hanging out a little bit more where they can develop those bonds. That'll bind us during the year when it gets tough," said McDermott.
Copyright 2022 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company