A healthy Robert Woods matters. Since January, Woods has been the forgotten receiver in this offense. His own GM repeated the need for a weapon opposite Sammy Watkins. Months later, here he is, the No. 2 wideout for a fourth straight season. In fact, Robert Woods is the No. 1 with Sammy Watkins recovering from a broken foot. The Bills will need Woods to produce in the final year of his rookie deal.
Will he? He sure sounds liberated.
A torn groin greatly hindered Woods through all of his 14 games last season. While he never mentioned a word of it at the time — the receiver didn’t want defenders taking shots — Woods couldn’t truly open up and get separation. It felt like his leg was “pulling” behind him. In mid-March, Woods was finally able to start running and now the Bills will count on him.
A crafty route runner who has mostly worked underneath in his career, Woods is hoping to become more of a deep threat in 2016. He expects cornerbacks to play him more closely which could lead to more go routes, deep posts, anything downfield.
OTA’s absolutely matter to someone like him.
“Just trying to work on my game,” Woods said. “I’m coming back from injury. I’m coming off an injury. I know we’re trying to push everybody to be better but it starts with myself. Leading my example and really just trying to get this timing down with Tyrod — be explosive. Just get back, get back in rhythm.
The Ryan Boys doing it for Dad, too. They clearly see all, hear all and are desperate to bring respectability back to their family name. If you haven’t read their interview with the MMQB, be sure to check it out. Head coach Rex Ryan and his brother, Rob, spend plenty of time explaining away recent failures with more… and more… and more promises of pain ahead.
Rob claimed he didn't get to run his own defense in New Orleans. Rex said none of his stars in the past complained the way Mario Williams did a year ago. No, the two did not hold back. Rob clearly hates that some view his hiring as "nepotism," too.
As Rob said, “People can throw stones, but we will be throwing them back at them. They better be watching out.”
At the end of the interview, they revealed a big-picture motive on joining forces. While the two try to rejuvenate their careers here, they’re also “going for broke," as Rex said, because of their dad’s declining health.
“Who knows?” Rob said. “He’s not going to be able to watch us coach for much longer, I don’t think. But hopefully he can see this one, because we have got big plans. Bring Belichick on. We got him.”
Stephon Gilmore is still at it. He's not in Buffalo but the veteran cornerback is still preparing for the 2016 season on his own. He posted a video on his Instagram to give fans a taste of his training (see below). Few on the roster keep their body in such sharp condition — you have to be the most athletic player on the field as a shutdown cornerback. While it's true that Gilmore wouldn't be practicing on the field even if he was at OTA's because of his shoulder, it's also true that his camp would like to sign a long-term deal with the team. There was a bit more posturing last week on the Bills' side when Rex Ryan said he wishes all players could be here and then pumped up rookie cornerback Kevon Seymour as Ronald Darby Lite.
In truth, if the Bills are all in with Rex and all in with giving him what he wants long term, it’d make sense to lock up Gilmore. Cornerbacks capable to handling receivers 1 on 1 are rare and he needs them in high supply to run his defense, to get creative elsewhere.
So how much would it cost? It wouldn’t be a shock if Gilmore’s camp is seeking Top 5 CB money which would be about $14 million per year.
Certainly they can make the case that Gilmore is more valuable than Josh Norman considering Norman played more zone with help last season.
“They run a lot of zone. A lot of help,” Gilmore said of Carolina. “When guys go under, you let them go. In our system, you’ve got that guy wherever he goes. You’re on an island. If you mess up one little bit, you’re beat. In his system, he makes plays, he has his eyes on the quarterback, he runs more zone. Two different systems, two different players, two great players.
“Our games are just different.”