New system. New receiving corps. Same Tyrod Taylor.
Well, sort of.
One of the Bills quarterback’s best attributes is his dedication, according to head coach Sean McDermott. But now, Taylor is playing “more free” within their new offense. And that modification is the key to not only his success but the team’s as well.
“For our players, I want them to know that playing free is powerful,” McDermott said before Thursday’s practice. “There’s power in that. We're not going out there to think. I’m the one who’s got to think. Thank God I don’t have to play. … You tend to put on display the best version of yourself when you play free and play aggressive.”
Taylor certainly didn’t display the “best version” of himself in last week’s 20-16 loss in Philly. He finished with a quarterback rating of 12.0 and two interceptions — one of which was snagged by cornerback Ronald Darby, whom the Bills traded to the Eagles six days prior.
In the aftermath of the Bills’ preseason loss, Taylor downplayed the Bills’ roster overhaul and the challenge of jelling with a new group of receivers. On Thursday, McDermott noted that Taylor has been more “decisive” and loose during this week’s preparation for Saturday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.
“The first thing I noticed was his leadership, and it hasn’t changed,” McDermott said of his seventh-year quarterback. “He’s just about the first one in the building and one of the last to leave. So from a head coach’s standpoint, I appreciate that. I know his teammates appreciate that about him.
“I feel like he’s more decisive and playing more free within the offense. He’s developing some continuity and chemistry with his receivers, and even though Jordan at this point is probably not going to play Saturday night, you’re seeing that develop through practice reps together. So that’s been good to watch.”
Dion Dawkins’ this-side, no-that-side start to his professional career will continue Saturday.
The Bills' rookie offensive tackle will start on the left side against the Baltimore Ravens in the third preseason game Saturday night. Dawkins had worked at left tackle exclusively throughout the spring before moving to right tackle at the start of training camp, where he has been competing for the starting job with Jordan Mills.
With franchise left tackle Cordy Glenn nursing a nagging foot injury, though, the Bills will move Dawkins back over to the left in the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season.
"If you're Dion, you go at it like 'I'm the starter at left tackle.' As a competitor, that's what you have to do," McDermott said. "He has played there before, all through the spring, and then he played the right, as you mentioned, to this point in camp, other than this week. It's really done, what I think, is created a nice foundation for Dion at both sides, to be able to play both positions. We expect him to put his best foot forward, just like the rest of our guys out there. So I look forward to watching him."
Dawkins' stay at left tackle might be short. Glenn is continuing to progress after receiving an injection in his foot from Dr. Robert Anderson recently.
"Trying to get ready for Week One," he said. "Between me, the Bills’ medical staff and Dr. Anderson, we all have a plan and we’re all on the same page right now. I’m just trying to get better every day, hopefully get on the field and be ready to be playing."
Dawkins, whom the Bills traded up into the second round of the draft to acquire, is good with serving as a swing tackle.
"They have me at left because they need me there, but when the time comes to compete at right, then I'm just going to jump back in it,” he said.
Like Glenn, wide receiver Jordan Matthews is also “progressing” and will travel to Baltimore. But don’t expect to see either of them play, McDermott said. Both are listed as day to day.