BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Just like everyone during the pandemic, the Bills will have to adapt to a “new normal” in order to get ready for the upcoming season. Training camp will be much different than usual in order to comply with the NFL’s COVID-19 restrictions and protocol.
Of course the Bills usually hold camp at St. John Fisher College outside of Rochester but that won’t happen this year as the NFL already announced teams must stay at their facilities this year.
Some of the league’s coronavirus protocols include having lockers six feet apart in locker rooms, meeting must be conducted virtually when possible, in-person meetings should be held outdoors, masks are required except when interfering with “athletic activities”, just to name a few of the restrictions outlined in the memo the NFL sent out to teams.
“There’s certainly some challenges out there you know the protocol is the protocol. One thing we have on our side at this point is some time. We’ve got some time on our side and I think the other thing is our approach at the Bills is that we’re going to do our best to find a way, to find a solution and to make sure we do things the right way,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said on a zoom call with reporters.
“Our team here is working long hours to try and make sure that we can meet all those protocols and still function at a high level once training camp begins,” McDermott explained.
The Bills now have a break until camp starts with the conclusion of their virtual offseason this week.
“We’re capable or a lot more sometimes than we think we’re capable of. It’s a great example of that and if you would have asked me if we would have been able to get this done three, four months ago I guess four, five months ago to execute what we’ve been able to execute and at the level that we’ve been able to execute at I would have said that’s going to be a very heavy lift but it’s been incredible to watch our team come together,” McDermott said.
Some teams are still seeing players test positive for COVID-19 at the college and professional level. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott tested positive for coronavirus. Even with all of the precautions and restrictions, teams have to be prepared for that scenario heading into training camp in order to avoid a setback.
“What we have to take the mindset of is really more so yes confident but at the same time that we have contingency plans in place just based on how things have been going in our country that there’s probably a pretty good chance this could come up here in Buffalo and the better question is how are we going to respond? and what is our plan? We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go,” McDermott said.
A big key to guys staying healthy and staying clear of these situations is sticking with the NFL’s protocols and avoid becoming lax with the rules.
“It’s a key word here, discipline. You know you go back and you say hey early on we were very disciplined, in our house are we staying disciplined. It’s easy to lose that element as you go through day after day. It’s easy to start that way, right? But who can remain disciplined, no different than workouts right? Why do New Year’s resolutions fail right? Because it’s easy to start but who can see it through and that takes discipline and that’s sometimes what helps separate some individuals and some teams from others,” McDermott said.
Another possible change we could see is the NFL is reportedly considering shortening the 2020 preseason from four games to two, which is something else teams would have to adjust to.
“Whatever the league decides we’ll roll with. I’ve been in this league long enough to know that you’ve got to be adaptable and adaptive teams and individuals win,” McDermott said.
One thing the Bills do have on their side is continuity bringing back most of their starters from last season. They also put a big emphasis on adding depth whether it be through free agency or the draft. Just looking at the quarterbacks they have four on the roster right now with Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Davis Webb and Jake Fromm and given the certain state of things, that might be valuable.
“You’ve got to have depth in this league, depth is important at every position, in this case the quarterback position in particular. So I think the reality of this year in particular what happens if said players comes down with the virus so even more important that you have depth and quality depth,” McDermott explained.
The Bills are now off until training camp starts at the end of July.