ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – And on the sixth day, the pads came on.
Things start to feel a little more like real football in Orchard Park as Tuesday’s practice was the first day in pads during Bills training camp which gave the team a little more juice.
“This day never changes, first day in pads since the time you put on pads when you’re however old were. For me it was seven or eight years old and you always wake up in a little bit different of a mood first day of pads and it doesn’t seem to change when you’re coaching. It’s always a certain mindset that you wake up with,” head coach Sean McDermott said before Tuesday’s practice.
“It’s been a good camp so far, still a lot of work to do. I didn’t think the other day [Saturday] was up to our standard, and it was good to see the guys get back after a day off and come back and reset and get back after it yesterday which I thought was a good quality practice for us.”
And while rookies like first-round pick Greg Rousseau have been impressive to this point in camp, we’ll really get a sense of where he is and what he can handle as the pads come on.
“At the end of the day you can either play in pads or you can’t. This is a grown man’s league when you put pads on and what it was in college even at the highest level is different at this level so he’ll adjust, I’m confident he’ll adjust,” McDermott said.
This is where practices start to ramp up but there’s always a balance between wanting to go full speed and match a certain intensity (for things like building a run game) to get ready for the season while still practicing against your own players.
“That’s one of the goals of training camp not only to come together as a team but also build the toughness of our football team. You really can’t do that come November, it’s past you at that point so this is the time where we build the toughness of our football team,” McDermott said.
“And you do that by winning at the line of scrimmage and that’s where it’s built, these days right here in camp and our players are well aware of that.”
Speaking of winning at the line of scrimmage, Cody Ford is back after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year during the Bills’ week nine win over the Seahawks. He later had surgery and not only opened up about the physical toll of his recovery but also focusing on his mental health and working with a mental health coach.
“We wanna make sure we provide for our players in every way, shape and form that we can and that’s not just physically but also mentally in this case so you see the team that we have, the support staff that we have especially our development team,” McDermott explained.
“It’s not gonna be a country club around here, we don’t want that but they should feel supported and that they know they have every resource they need number one, as people and number two, as football players so they can become the best version of themselves.”
When it comes to position battles, there’s been great competition so far at camp for that last receiver spot and one guy who’s really flashed is Jake Kumerow.
“His road has been rocky to this point, I can tell you this though when he left towards the end of the year last season he was missed just in the locker room, the vibe of the team and so to have the chance to get him back here was a big opportunity for us. I think he’s off to a great start in camp, he made a big play the other day and he’s off to a good start,” McDermott said.