Sean McDermott has his Carolina Panthers connections on the Buffalo Bills' roster: fullback Mike Tolbert, wide receiver Philly Brown, and cornerback Leonard Johnson.
The newcomer players are here, in part, to help reinforce the higher standards and accountability the newcomer coach knows the team desperately needs after two years of Rex Ryan's anything-goes approach.
They spent enough time with McDermott, when he was defensive coordinator of the Panthers, to get a good feel for his no-nonsense style that leaves little room for anything other than doing what's necessary to help the team win.
Keep personal agendas to a minimum. More "we" and "us." Less "I" and "me."
There's only so much they can do to spread the McDermott gospel, though. None figures to have a prominent role with the Bills. If the new way of doing things is going to fully take hold, key players must fully buy into it.
Which means they first have to buy into McDermott.
There was at least a small question raised about that with at least one key player on April 3, when the Bills began their offseason conditioning program. Sixty of the 61 players on the roster at the time were attendance.
That, alone, was enough to make LeSean McCoy conspicuous by his absence.
Add the fact the running back was with the Philadelphia Eagles when McDermott was their defensive coordinator – and presumably happy with a familiar face taking over for Ryan – and you have another reason to question why McCoy would stay away.
He showed up this week, with the Bills providing photographic evidence via their Twitter account.
But that was after questions surfaced in the media about whether McCoy, despite posting on Instagram about his son turning 5 on April 3, was unhappy with his contract or had some other issue that caused him to be the only player missing for the dawning of the McDermott Era. It was a day when, as veterans Lorenzo Alexander and Kyle Williams pointed out, the coach laid out his demands, expectations and vision for 2017. It was a day when a clear message was delivered by the several players who wore T-shirts bearing the phrase "playoff caliber."
Being there meant something – to McDermott and everyone else. Sure, McDermott said all of the right things about the session being "voluntary" and being "encouraged" by conversations he has had with the running back since becoming the Bills' coach.
It didn't change the fact that McCoy's absence looked bad.
Then, on the heels of that, came his social-media skirmish with Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso. McCoy wasn't happy with a photo Alonso posted to his Instagram account showing the linebacker as part of a play that flipped McCoy in a game last season.
McCoy responded by telling Alonso, for whom he was traded when the Bills acquired the running back from Philadelphia, to take the photo off his page and called him a "BUM." He also called Alonso's new four-year contract worth nearly $29 million "garbage," writing, "Boy ya dad wish u was as good as me."
It seems reasonable to assume that wasn't quite what McDermott had in mind with his whole one-voice philosophy.
McCoy's comments were, at best, immature. At worst, they were a mere continuation of the sort of culture Ryan promoted, with players following their coach's lead in making outlandish public comments that rarely proved to be anything more than hot air.
Yup. It's always a good idea to provoke a division rival that beat you twice last year and was actually in the playoffs while you stayed home. Again.
The word from One Bills Drive was that McDermott "didn't lose any sleep over it." A player saying something silly on social media is hardly a major offense. For that matter, a player missing the first voluntary workout of the offseason doesn't qualify as a crisis.
Nevertheless, when that player is his team's biggest star, it gets noticed. Everything that happens on McDermott's watch is open to scrutiny and will, fair or not, be compared to all that took place under his predecessor.
If things truly are different and if everyone is buying into his higher standards and accountability, then there shouldn't be any doubt about whether that's the case.
Even this early in the process.