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Bills' Boldin: 'Not that diva mentality in our receiver room'

PITTSFORD -- Sammy Watkins' departure has left a sizeable hole in the Buffalo Bills' receiving corps that isn't likely to be filled any time soon.

Watkins was a dynamic playmaker. When healthy, he showed talent that rose to the level of some of the best receivers in the NFL.

The remaining pass-catchers, most of whom are new to the team, don't provide that sort of splash the Los Angeles Rams acquired in last Friday's trade with the Bills. They're steady, workmanlike individuals who won't, as Watkins did early in the 2015 season, ever go to the media to demand more touches.

And no one personifies that approach more than the oldest and most decorated of the newcomers, 15-year veteran Anquan Boldin.

"There's definitely not that diva mentality in our receiver room," Boldin said after Tuesday's practice, the last of the summer at the Bills' St. John Fisher College training camp. "We have guys that are willing to do whatever it is that the coaches ask, whether that be blocking, running a clear-out route or going across the middle, taking a big hit and making a catch.

"We have guys that are willing to do whatever it takes. That's the kind of guys that you want to work with, work along side of, because with the game on the line, you can count on them."

It's the exact configuration coach Sean McDermott believes is necessary for success. He wants players who place winning ahead of their own statistics.

So far, that has been reflected in all of the moves McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane have made in their major roster upheaval.

"We’re building a team, we’re not accumulating talent," the coach said. "We’re building a team and that comes down to roles, it comes down to chemistry, it comes down to camaraderie, and it comes also down to unselfishness. That’s the qualities we are looking for in our football players."

"In our room, there's no entitlement," second-round draft pick Zay Jones said. "I don't think anyone feels entitled, starting with Anquan. He's the most decorated and prestigious receiver in the room, and he comes to work just like all of us. His work habits are unbelievable and that's something that I look at and really feed off of."

Of course, McDermott understands the need for players who can move the chains and get into the end zone. The only one on the roster with an elite form of that capability is running back LeSean McCoy.

Without Watkins and no true speed burners since the free-agency loss of Marquise Goodwin, the Bills' primary receivers are largely of the slot variety: Boldin, Jordan Matthews (acquired in last Friday's trade with the Philadelphia Eagles), Jones, and most of the offseason free-agent signings, led by Andre Holmes. The Bills have pegged Matthews to mainly play outside. However, as he recovers from the chip fracture of his sternum that he suffered in Sunday's practice, Jones, who had been working inside and outside, has spent more time filling the outside role.

Are there enough playmakers in the Bills' receiving corps?

"Absolutely, there are," McDermott said. "When you look at the numbers with Jordan, when you look at the numbers with Anquan, and then a young player with Zay, and let’s not forget Andre.

"If you go back, I’ve been fortunate to be around some pretty good teams over the course of my career in the NFL, right around 20 years. There were some receivers out there that played in a lot of important football games that maybe weren’t household names and we won a lot of football games."

When Boldin looks around the wide-receiver meeting room, he sees more than a sufficient number of targets for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

"I definitely think we have a number of guys that you can put out on the field that'll make plays," he said. "The thing I like about the group is that they come out and they compete every day. They're guys that are hungry, guys that want to make name for themselves in this league.

"And any time that you have guys that are willing to work, put in the work, the sky's the limit for them."

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