Bills camp kicks off
Buffalo QB Josh Allen is excited to be with 'a bunch of dudes who love football'
Josh Allen has received the memo. He’s supposed to be taking it easy in these first early practice sessions during this so-called “acclimation” period that was negotiated between the owners and the NFL Players’ Association.
But come on. The guy is as competitive as any athlete can be, and so are many of his Buffalo teammates. They’re professional football players with a whole lot of pent up energy stored after an offseason of on-field inactivity.
They’re supposed to be walking through plays as the weirdest training camp in team history gets underway this week, but it’s hard to tap the brakes. These guys want to hit each other.
“While we’re on the field it’s all walk-through tempo but you get out there, you see a man across from me and you get those competitive juices flowing,” Allen said Monday during a Zoom call with reporters. “Coach is constantly telling players to slow down but I will say I’d rather have him telling us to slow down than to speed up.”
Aside from not being allowed to be in attack mode, Allen is clearly excited to be back at One Bills Drive, reconnecting with his teammates and meeting the new additions to the roster.
“Our guys are hungry to start playing football again,” he said. “It was a great thing to see all the familiar faces and all my buddies that I’ve been missing. You know, it’s just great to be back in that atmosphere where you’ve got just a bunch of dudes who love football, in the same spot again and to be able to go out there and talk some friendly trash, but at the same time get some valuable reps.”
Allen was asked why he won’t be opting out like some NFL players including two teammates, Star Lotulelei and E.J. Gaines.
“My reason why I’m opting in to play is, one, I love this game, and two, I think it’s a great opportunity to give this nation hope and allow them to see us go out there and do what we do because we know that Sunday is a very special day in the lives of a lot of people around the world, a lot of fans around the world,” he said.
“It’s our jobs, and it’s my passion to play this game and there is obviously some things that we’re sacrificing and risking with our health and whatnot to do this, but at the same time we want to play football. We’re built and wired as football players and we want to play, so we’re gonna do everything necessary that we can off the field to ensure that we do have a season and we’re gonna continue to find ways to adjust.”
One of the hottest topics surrounding Allen as the offseason dragged on was whether the loss of all that practice time would hinder his progress in his third season as the Bills’ starter.
It has been well-documented how vital it will be for the Bills to have Allen grow as a quarterback in 2020. The team is ready to win, and one of the biggest fears among the fans is that if Allen does not make progress — and there is certainly progress he needs to make — then he could hinder their quest for the AFC East division title.
He recognizes that not being on the field with the offense, particularly the new additions such as Stefon Diggs and Zack Moss, is worrisome, but he said the one thing he can control is his preparation. As long as he knows exactly what he’s doing and understands every nuance of the offense, the timing and the communication will come now that practice has begun.
“I think the only thing that really hurts is, you’re going to get just a limited amount of live reps that you would typically get in a preseason and a full training camp and the OTAs and all that stuff,” said Allen. “But I’ve set up something in my house. I’ve got my complete film room there and I’ve got everything I need to watch as much film as I can. I’m gonna spend a lot of time in that room and be able to make sure that I’m getting all the mental reps that I can.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll obviously wishes he could have been with Allen throughout the offseason, but he also knows that Allen has a good head on his shoulders, is a conscientious student of the game, and he’ll be ready when the pads go on around Aug. 17.
“Josh I know has been working just like he always does in the offseason,” said Daboll. “He's in his third year in the system so he knows probably a lot more than he knew at the beginning. It will be extremely important, not just for Josh, but for everybody when we get back to training camp, to really hit the ground running.”
Allen would love to start running rather than walking, but the current rules aren’t allowing him to.
“When it comes to practice time, every rep that I get is taken as seriously as I can,” he said. “And when I have a rep off, I’m still being engaged and talking with my guys and going through it in my mind and getting those mental reps because you know every rep is going to be super valuable going into this.”