Dion Dawkins is taking this strange NFL season in stride.
And so are his teammates.
Training camp is usually the least favorite part of the calendar for an NFL player. On top of that, there’s a desire to catch up for lost reps in the spring and the necessity of Covid safety protocols. It can be a lot of weight for a player to bear.
Dawkins says the Bills are treating it like a turnover during a game. It’s unexpected, but it’s part of the deal.
“We are pros for a reason,” he said. “We’ve learned along this journey how to adapt. This is just a sudden change for us. Guys are taking it very serious, looking at it with a good light and we’re getting through it day by day.”
Many of the Bills got together during the offseason to go through the playbook and attempt to, informally, recreate a normal spring OTA program. The offensive skill players met in Florida, while many of the defensive players connected in Virginia.
The offensive line did not assemble, but did stay on top of each other via text, call, Zoom, etc. They wanted to take home some of the team offseason awards and they succeeded.
Quinton Spain was the Iron Bills champion, as part of the offseason conditioning program. Dawkins Lifter of the Year for the offense.
“Us as the offensive line won the offseason,” Dawkins said. “We just took it upon ourselves that we’re going to do it from a distance.”
Dawkins called it “extremely sad” that Jon Feliciano won’t be a part of the O-line to start the season. Feliciano is out indefinitely with a torn pectoral muscle. He said there won’t be a panic because of the quality work Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott did creating depth.
With or without Feliciano, this season comes with a ton of expectations. The Bills are trying not to notice, even if it’s tough to ignore.
“We have a swagger about us, but we still have that underdog mentality,” Dawkins said. “We honestly don’t care about any of that hype. We just let the outside noise chirp, chirp, chirp, but we keep pushing. We know what we have to do, day in and day out. We know this will be hardest year yet because there’s a giant target on us.”
It’s just another weight the Bills are bearing this training camp and another weight they expect to handle.