Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills as they begin their second week of OTA practices:
>The bizarre story of Rex Ryan's lack of communication -- there's that word again -- with Seantrel Henderson before or after the offensive tackle underwent multiple surgeries to help with his bout with Crohn's Disease is yet another black eye for the Bills in this offseason of repeated PR missteps.
First, there was the Shaq Lawson no-surgery-yes-surgery fiasco. Then, there was the Doug Whaley humans-weren't-meant-to-play-football remark, followed by a retraction. Then, there was the silly you-can't-tweet-about-dropped-passes-and-interceptions-in-practice media policy (wait, sorry, we didn't mean to include training camp). Then, there was the Ryan Brothers' we'll-beat-Bill-Belichick/not-sure-we-have-100-percent-buy-in-in-the-building Q&A with MMQB.
Where does it end?
Ryan raised some eyebrows after the May 24 OTA practice when he said he hadn't spoken with Henderson since the end of last season. It sounded as if, at the worst, a dark cloud had formed over the player's future with the team, and, at best, he was putting himself far behind in what was supposed to have been a three-way competition with Jordan Mills and Cyrus Kouandjio for the No. 1 right tackle spot. Yes, OTAs are voluntary, but Ryan hardly made it seem as if Henderson's absence was as routine as some of the others for medical or other reasons.
But it wasn't until Henderson's agent, Alan Herman, reached out to our Tyler Dunne Monday that it was revealed Henderson had the medical procedures in his native Minnesota to remove the infected areas and reattach his intestines, and the Bills' medical staff was fully aware of it. Herman also said that, as of Monday, Henderson had yet to hear from Ryan or any of the Bills' other coaches, but was in contact with teammates.
It would seem logical to assume the team's medical staff briefed Ryan on what took place with Henderson, and the coach, respecting the tackle's right to medical privacy, chose not to discuss it publicly. Still, that doesn't explain why no Bills coach was in touch with Henderson. "Clearly if any of his coaches called he would've returned the phone call," Herman told Dunne. "But to this day, nobody has called him."
Why? This was a big deal. And if the agent felt compelled to mention it, then it must have been an issue with Henderson, too.
After all, when they reversed field from initially saying Lawson didn't need surgery and would be a Day One starter, the Bills put out a statement praising their first-round draft pick for "forsaking personal goals to be 100 percent healthy when we need him most during the regular season."
Wasn't Henderson doing the same thing? His agent said his client has "been cleared to do whatever he wants" and is expected to arrive in Buffalo Thursday for offseason workouts.
Hopefully, Ryan can make a little time to get caught up with Henderson then.
>Mike DeVito played defensive end for the New York Jets during four of Ryan's six seasons as their head coach. He knows a thing or two about the complexities of his defense.
And DeVito, who retired in April after a three-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, said the struggles that many Bills defenders had learning it last season can be resolved with patience. He did point out, though, the Jets made an effort to acquire players who were good at helping to translate the defense to all of the other members of the unit, including DeVito.
"I think the one thing that really helped us in New York is Rex brought in guys like (linebacker) Bart Scott and he brought in guys, really, at each position -- (such as safety) Jim Leonhard -- that were masters of the playbook," DeVito told me Monday during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Because the playbook that Rex runs, it can be very difficult, especially to start. There's a lot of moving pieces and a lot of moving parts. But when you get it, man, it's a great defense. So I think the advantage we had in New York that first year (2009) -- I think we finished No. 1 in the NFL -- we had guys like Bart, we had guys like Jimmy, who were able to teach everybody the system.
"… but I think if you can have some patience with it, I think (the Bills will) be really successful. Because that defense allowed a guy like me, who doesn't have all the physical attributes and isn't the most athletic guy, to kind of have some free range to make some plays and do some things to really help my career. I can really attest to (the fact) the defense is good. But it is difficult, especially coming from Coach (Eric) Mangini's defense, which had a lot of moving parts as well, but even up front, we were a three-man, odd front. Whereas now we get to Rex's defense and the defensive line is responsible for changing fronts and moving from under, moving out to odd, moving to over and different defenses, based on formations and stuff. That was something that was new and took a lot of work, so I think if they have patience and can kind of buy in, I think they'll be successful. But it does take time."
>Jerry Hughes wasn't right last season, thanks in part to playing with a chipped bone in his left wrist.
That wasn't all. In a defense that asked him to function far differently than he did in 2014, Hughes no longer was effective playing end. It showed in his sack total dropping from 10 to five.
This year, as the Bills more fully commit to a 3-4 scheme, Hughes will move to outside linebacker. He couldn't be happier.
"Yeah, I mean it’s just going to be a lot more fun at the outside linebacker position now, I would say," Hughes told reporters last week. "I mean, I’m really just not that traditional down-in. I’ll be standing up more so just understanding the depths and volumes that it goes into playing a linebacker. I mean, it opens up the game for you a lot.
"You can have a lot more fun, I’ll say, when you’re out in coverage, when you’re out coming off the edge, really just playing with that look to kind of just mess with offense's heads."