Saturday, July 31, 2010
Full-pad camp big change for Bills
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills were in full pads again Saturday afternoon, making it three straight days and four straight sessions of training camp new head coach Chan Gailey made his players dress up.
That might sound routine to most football fans, and Gailey seems a tad baffled when reporters ask him about it.
But full-padded practices are a stark contrast to the way previous coach Dick Jauron conducted camps. The Bills were in full pads just a handful of times under Jauron, maybe as few as four or five sessions per camp, and never two days in a row.
"It should have been harder," fifth-year safety Donte Whitner said of Jauron's laid-back approach. "Whenever you're in a professional league -- football, basketball, soccer -- I think you have to be pushed. Sometimes you can get complacent and get used to the old coaching staff and the routine.
"We've seen with these last four practices, things are going to be tough. They expect us to do a lot."
Fans don't like to think of their teams as softies. Of course, the tradeoff for limited contact in training camp is supposed to be reduced injuries. But the Bills have been one of the most tattered teams in recent seasons. They finished last season with 21 players on injured reserve.
"We're definitely going to get a lot of work in pads," said safety George Wilson, "because Coach Gailey is trying to change the culture around here, change the mindset and attitudes and the way we prepare for games, our approach to each and every game, and he's trying to set the tone from day one.
"It's a different change-up from what we've had but, hey, the past 10 to 12 years for this organization haven’t been working so hey, let's give this a try."
Just a decade without the playoffs, George. Let's not make it worse than it already is.
There were no skirmishes Saturday like the one that broke out between outside linebacker Aaron Maybin and center Geoff Hangartner on Friday morning, but there's an obvious uptick in the intensity when the Bills line up for 11-on-11 drills.
"Even some of the drills, doing 35 or 40 reps at seven-on-seven, there's just a difference," Whitner said. "At the end of practice you feel like you've practiced."