The timing is right for Andre Reed to pursue the next phase of his career.
The Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame wide receiver was on the field Tuesday as the team opened its three-day mandatory minicamp in his new role as a coaching intern.
“I had a feeling I wanted to do something after I was done playing. Even before that, but my kids were too small,” Reed said after practice. “They’re older now, so I can devote more time to it.”
Reed is one of seven coaches who will spend training camp with the Bills as part of the 2015 Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship. Introduced by Walsh to the NFL in 1987, the program exposes minority coaches to the methods and philosophies of NFL training camps.
Reed previously participated with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, but said he feels “a little more comfortable here.”
“Nothing against Andy Reid and his staff, they welcomed me and I had a great time there,” he said. “But when you come somewhere where you played and you have some roots, it’s like you’re home.”
Reed said head coach Rex Ryan and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal have given him free reign to work with the players the best way he sees how.
“I told the guys, ‘Look here, if you need anything…’; it doesn’t even have to be about football. I’m just opening myself up to them if they want to talk to me about anything,” Reed said. “I’m not an expert on anything, but if they want to talk to me about anything they’re going through … as far as off the field or on the field, I think I can help them out.”
Reed spent 15 of his 16 seasons in Buffalo and is the Bills’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He said the nature of the NFL game has evolved since he retired, but the mechanics of the position are largely the same.
“You still have to run, block, tackle, catch,” he said before admitting, “it’s a little more complex than it was when I played.”
Working with the Bills affords Reed with the opportunity to instruct a player many hope can one day be talked about along with him as one of the franchise’s all-time greats in Sammy Watkins. Reed gushed about Watkins’ potential.
“We’ve just got to give him the ball,” he said. “I’ve known him for a couple years, but today we really talked a lot about some stuff. I told him that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to get you to the next level. Whatever you need to do, let’s get it done.”
Reed jumped right in on his first day, spending time working after practice with some receivers against cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
“The smallest things really put you over the top,” he said. “When you do the extra work and all that kind of stuff, it makes a difference in how you practice and how you go out and play the games.
“This is a talented group of receivers we have here. These guys got such a great upside of doing some special things this year on offense. It should be exciting to see.”
As for where Reed hopes to end up after his internship, he’s leaving his options open.
“I don’t know if you call it getting my feet wet,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen? I think if I continue to do this and I want to pursue it, there’s no reason why I can’t be a coach somewhere. If not here, in college, or wherever.
“I’m not here just to pass time. This is something that I want to do. If I want to do it, I usually go 100 percent in what I want to do, and I usually attain it.”
Bills right tackle Seantrel Henderson missed practice Tuesday, with Ryan saying the player had “travel issues.”
“You always tell guys, especially when you’re heading north … always try to prepare a little,” Ryan said. “I’ll talk to him about that.”
Henderson is expected to practice Wednesday.
Not taking part in practice Tuesday for various injury reasons were safeties Aaron Williams and Wes Miller, cornerback Cam Thomas, linebacker Tony Steward and guard Chris Williams. Miller and Steward were spotted at the practice riding the stationary bike on the sideline.
Watkins took one rep in 11-on-11 drills for the first time this spring, leading defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson to yell out after the play, “Hey Sammy, you working today?”
“He looked good,” Ryan said of Watkins, who had surgery on his hip this offseason. “He’s right where we want him to be. By training camp, we expect him to be ready to roll.”
The same goes for the rest of the Bills’ injured players, with the possible exception of Chris Williams.
“I’m not real sure right now,” Ryan said when asked if Williams would be ready to play when the Bills report to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. “Our trainers will obviously let me know as he does his physical and things like that.”
The Bills had a new player on the field, as defensive tackle Andre Fluellen was signed to the 90-man roster and present for practice.
Fluellen, a 6-foot-2, 280-pounder, is a former third-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 2008. The eight-year veteran has played in 77 career games, with 65 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for loss. Other than a two-game stint with the Dolphins in 2012, all of those games have come with the Lions. He played eight games for Detroit in 2014.
Fluellen becomes the seventh member of the Bills who played at Florida State, leading Ryan to joke “we need to get more Tigers in here,” a reference to the Seminoles’ Atlantic Coast Conference rivals at Clemson, where Ryan’s son plays.
“You can’t have enough good players,” Ryan said in explaining why the team added to an already deep defensive line. “I think when you add to the competition, that’s a real positive thing.”
To make room for Fluellen, the Bills designated safety Deon Broomfield as waived/injured.