ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins’ return to practice.
The good news obviously is just simply Dawkins is finally off the NFL’s Reserve/Covid list. It’s a step in the right direction especially since Dawkins started training camp on the Covid list. The Bills activated him on Thursday and he didn’t play in their preseason opener on Friday.
But Dawkins was back with the team for his first practice of training camp on Sunday since being activated. It was just a light practice, a little more intense than a walk through, so more of a “jog through.” But still it was a good sign to see him out there.
The bad news is Dawkins has a lot of work ahead to get back to 100%.
“He’s not close to where he needs to be to play and help us so he’s got a long road here,” Sean McDermott said before practice on Sunday.
“He’s gonna control what he can control and so are we and he’s gotta continue to work hard to get himself back. I mean this is going on week four of training camp at this point so he’s missed a lot of time.”
While Dawkins was out, that opened the door for others to step up including rookie Spencer Brown who’s gotten more reps in practice and even started at left tackle in Friday’s preseason opener against the Lions.
“That’s the I guess benefit if you will of Dion not being here and Spencer then getting the reps because those reps are valuable so I thought Spencer did a really good job in the game the other day, albeit it’s his first outing so we’ll just see where he is as we move forward this week,” McDermott said.
The Bills never got their five starters on the offensive line out there last season with players constantly dealing with injuries. Jon Feliciano started the season dealing with a pec injury, Cody Ford had a season-ending knee injury, just to name a few reasons why those five guys were never out there at once together.
So far in camp, Feliciano and Ford along with Mitch Morse and Daryl Williams all seem healthy.
But now there’s a question mark as to if the Bills can start the season with those five out there with Dawkins trying to get back to full strength as the season opener is exactly four weeks away. Which brings up the question of whether or not Dawkins’ situation is an example the coaches can use when talking about the Covid vaccine.
McDermott has said he wants to “educate” players who might be on the fence about getting the vaccine and was asked if what Dawkins’ is going through can be used as a teachable moment.
“I think we have a lot of teachable moments out there,” McDermott said.
“I think if I knew everything that’s going on in the world every day I’m sure there’s a ton of teachable moments as far as Covid goes so just again I hope that that resonates with the people it needs to resonate with. Again, all of us. We need to all continue to be vigilant about doing the right things.”
At the start of training camp, general manager Brandon Beane said just over 80% of their players received at least one shot of the vaccine.
McDermott said in terms of that percentage they’ve “moved a little bit since we opened camp”.