PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) – Versatility plays a big role when it comes to the players Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane bring and keep on this Bills roster, especially on the offensive and defensive line.
They value position flexibility and winning up front, attributes that describe Ryan Bates perfectly. That’s a big reason why the Bills signed Bates to a four-year contract in April.
“It’s awesome, it’s nice to be wanted, it’s nice for someone to want you on their team. I have a great relationship with McDermott and Beane and I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am right now, being back with the Buffalo Bills,” Bates said Monday after practice.
Bates was a restricted free agent and signed an offer sheet with the Bears before the Bills matched it, keeping him in Buffalo.
“The process was different, it was my first time going through something like that and being a restricted free agent I didn’t really have much of a decision, didn’t really have much control of the situation. The only thing I could control was accepting or not accepting any offer sheet that was sent toward me,” Bates explained.
“I kind of had the mindset where I was just, whatever happens, happens, didn’t really stress about it because why stress about something that’s out of your control.”
Bates first signed with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in May of 2019. Three months later, the Bills traded for Bates in exchange for defensive end Eli Harold.
His first two seasons with Buffalo were spent primarily in a backup role but that changed towards the end of last season. The Bills went through at least eight different combinations with their starting offensive line because of injuries and Covid, and finally Bates solidified his spot starting the final four regular season games at guard. Bates started both postseason games at left guard and this preseason, seems to have settled in at right guard.
“Given where I’ve been the past three years, having that ability where I’ve played all five positions, our offense is very similar to the ones we’ve had in years past and so I still have a good recollection of all those different positions and all those different roles we play. Really when you understand the center position everything else kind of falls into place because when you know center you know guard, if you know guard you know tackle, you know tackle you know tight end and so really it works inside out,” Bates said.
“It’s nice having the ability this year being focused on one spot and that’s at right guard for me right now and I feel comfortable, I feel great.”
Even though Bates is now in an elevated role, Sean McDermott says he doesn’t see anything different in his approach to his preparation.
“He’s always been a pretty consistent person off the field, consistent on the field and I think that really goes to his dependability. I think his teammates see that and his coaches see it as well. It’s really who he is so I haven’t seen much of a change at all,” McDermott said before practice on Monday.
As for the offensive line as a whole, it’s been a tough go for this unit in training camp dealing with injuries but they’re slowly getting healthy. Rodger Saffold practiced for the second day in a row on Monday but only went through individual drills. However, Spencer Brown did participate in team work, rotating in and out with David Quessenberry at right tackle, so that’s a good sign for Brown.
Despite the injuries, Bates isn’t worried about their chemistry.
“I don’t think we’re playing catch up at all, I think we’re ready to roll, honestly, I think we feel great as a unit. We have a lot of depth, we have the mindset where if someone’s not ready to go, the next person in mentality and we’ll roll forward,” Bates said.