In a league commonly referred to as “Not For Long,” opportunity can knock at anytime. For Bills 7th round pick Tommy Sweeney, that door opened during the beginning of training camp. Tight ends Jason Croom, Tyler Kroft, and Dawson Knox all went down with injuries, so Sweeney spent weeks getting reps with the Bills 1st team offense.
The rookie is making the most of his chance, and after a strong showing in the preseason, the Bills are taking notice.
“First thing is he hasn’t blinked,” said offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. “We’ve thrown him in there with the one’s and two’s, and when we first started he was with the three’s. He understands football.”
“It’s good. It’s what you want to hear,” said Sweeney after practice on Wednesday. “You play the game, and you hope that the coaches like it, that’s really all you can ask for.”
Sweeney’s biggest contribution so far happened last week in the Bills second preseason game. He finished the night in Carolina with two catches for 47 yards during the opening two drives of the game.
“You love to see a kid like that make some plays for us,” said quarterback Josh Allen. “Just how hard he’s been working, he’s a special talent, he really is.”
Sweeney understands that as the Bills banged up tight ends get healthy, his chances of staying with the starters will diminish. He’s still embracing this time while it lasts.
“When you first come in, it’s a lot, you’re trying to learn all the different things, but as you learn, as you get those reps, as you mature and stuff like that, it does start to get a little slower,” said Sweeney. “You start to see things a little better.”
Sweeney is the first to admit he’s not the biggest or fastest tight end to ever suit up in the NFL. Two of his biggest assets have been reliability and coachability. From his position coaches, to the head coach, they see it too.
“He’s done a good job. He’s come out to work every day with the same energy, same toughness, same focus,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He’s developing a lot of trust at this point, which is key. “
One trait of the McDermott era in Buffalo is that all rookies, from 1st rounders to undrafted free agents start at the bottom of the ladder. Every job and role has to be earned.
“Even if you are a top rounder, there are limited opportunities,” said Sweeney. “Definitely coming from what I come from, it is what it is, but you gotta make plays when plays present themselves and make the best of your opportunity.”
Tommy Sweeney knows a familiar face on the team. He played with Bills linebacker Matt Milano at Boston College. The two notice similarities between the Bills locker room and the BC locker room.
“You get the same feel with the old-fashioned, team-oriented style,” said Sweeney. “A lot of guys being dudes.”
What’s better than that?