ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Bills second-year defensive end AJ Epenesa did not have a sack on Sunday against the Dolphins. But he did have nine quarterback pressures, tied for the most in a game so far this year of any player in the league.
Sean McDermott is happy to see a young player getting some return on his hard work, hard work that began when Epenesa spent his offseason in Buffalo.
“I’ve just seen a renewed commitment to the process and maybe a better understanding of what it takes to play at this level, what it takes to play in our defense, and what it takes to play on a down-in and down-out basis,” said McDermott.
Safety Jordan Poyer says the improvement of Epensa is obvious.
“A player who has grown and will continue to grow into himself and be the best version of himself, the best football player that he can be,” said Poyer. “I mean, that man was a beast out there on Sunday so hopefully he keeps it going.”
Epenesa, who has slimmed down to become more of a speed than a power rusher, says the key for him has been just playing.
“Eliminate all that thinking, eliminate all that process of trying to see this, see that, and just go and react,” said Epenesa. “Seeing my tackle doing this, so I have to do this or rush the quarterback on this play and get to it right now. That’s kind of just my mindset, just go and react after that.”
“I can tell that it’s been fun to see him play and the way he has improved has been,” said McDermott. “As I’ve said before, one of the joys of coaching is watching people improve.”
McDermott hopes Epenesa can stay healthy. He might also hope Epenesa stops by the office more, saying he doesn’t really know the real AJ. To which AJ later said with a laugh that he feels like he’s an open book.