The Bills have been at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford taking physicals over the weekend and preparing for the first practice Sunday night. The Bills are entering their 15th year of camp in Pittsford, a run that's seen them miss the playoffs every single year.
General Manager Doug Whaley said he's brought in the players to keep that drought from extending to a 15th season"
"The moves we made in the offseason were with the eye of making the playoffs. We feel that we have a roster that we are building with some cornerstone pieces that we believe can consistently compete for playoffs and championships."
That doesn't mean anyone else will believe it. Most prognosticators have the Bills once again pegged to languish at the bottom of the standings.
"They should, Whaley said. We haven't done anything. We've got a lot to prove … we haven't been to the playoffs in a long time, and we owe it to the fans, our late Hall of Fame owner and everybody i this business to show that we're not the Bills anymore."
That could prove difficult. The Bills have, during the course of their playoff drought, lost in every way possible. They've gone 0-8 to start the season and quickly quash hopes, and they've gone on 4-1 tears to start seasons only to crash and burn.
Running back Fred Jackson is entering his ninth season with Buffalo and has seen many of those defeats. He feels things will turn around with second-year coach Doug Marrone, who renewed enthusiasm in 2013 but, at 6-10, matched the team's 2012 result:
"Their number one thing coming in was to get this thing turned around. Being with those guys a second year, figuring each other out and what we want to do, how to use us and stuff like that, I think it's going to be a tremendous thing that comes to fruition this year."
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams cautions not to get too excited just yet:
"I think we need to get some work in before we get too excited. First day is always the first day today. We have a long way to go."
That road begins with a 6 p.m. practice Sunday. Tickets to that and the next two night practices are already sold out. New features at camp this season for fans include improvements to the interactive area and the addition to music during practice. Players will play on a new artificial turf field, and the hospitality pavilion has been upgraded.
Fans who attend camp can't park at St. John Fisher College. They're asked to park at Mendon High School on Mendon Road or Sutherland High School on Sutherland Street. From there, they can catch shuttles to the college. Camp is free, with paid concessions available. The shuttle will begin operating for Sunday's practice at 5 p.m.
Williams said fans at Sunday's practice will see the players try to set the tone for a good season:
"It doesn't matter how much you've been working out or how much you've been doing. You're not ready to play football until you put the pads on and practice and get some of that under your belt … it's always getting in and polishing and working on things and getting ready for September."
The Bills will continue camp through Aug. 21. Two joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers will take place Aug. 13-14 in Latrobe, Pa. All daytime practices are open to the public without tickets. The full schedule is as follows:
- July 20, 6 p.m.
- July 21, 2 p.m.
- July 22, 8 a.m.
- July 23, 8 a.m.
- July 25, 6 p.m.
- July 26, 6 p.m.
- July 27, 2 p.m.
- July 28, 8 a.m.
- July 30, 2 p.m.
- July 31, 8 a.m.
- Aug. 1, 6 p.m.
- Aug. 5, 6 p.m.
- Aug. 6, 2 p.m.
- Aug. 9, 6 p.m.
- Aug. 10, 2 p.m.
- Aug. 12, 8 a.m.
- Aug. 18, 6 p.m.
- Aug. 19, 2 p.m.
- Aug. 20, 8 a.m.
- Aug. 21, 2 p.m.
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Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Doug Whaley, Football, Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams, NFL, training camp