Mitch Morse looks forward to the time he and his Buffalo Bills teammates get to work together again.
When that will be is anyone's guess, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Morse is excited to get a firsthand look at a Bills offense that has made one of the biggest offseason additions with its March 16 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
"Stefon is one of those just prolific football players," the center recently said by phone from his offseason home in Kansas City, Kan. "I think he really can change the course of a game and give your offense a chance to score at any given moment. I think it's a great move. I'm excited to have him as a teammate."
The offseason programs are when new teammates get to meet each other and begin building relationships. The possibility of that not happening due to the virus, Morse said, "is a bummer."
"At the same time, I'm sure, when we see these guys, we'll get to know them very well and get to work and have some fun," he said. "And then, on the defensive side of the ball, we've added some really good players as well. It just seems that the management in Buffalo, Coach (Sean) McDermott and the Pegulas have a plan, and they have a script that they follow every year. They seem to execute it pretty well. It's exciting."
So, too, is being part of an offensive line that is expected to return fully intact from the unit that was part of the Bills' playoff run last season and had four new starters. The Bills re-signed starting left guard Quinton Spain, who played every offensive snap last season. The team also picked up the option on reserve guard/center Spencer Long's deal.
"I think it's unprecedented to have an offensive line staying the same completely for two consecutive seasons, at least on paper," Morse said. "And I think we have the opportunity to be able to take the next step. At the same time, you've got to put in that work. Just because we've acquired great players and we had success last year, that can also be the biggest detriment to a team, having a feeling like you've arrived."
"So we've just got to go in there and attack the days and attack the weeks and push each other to get better. I do think we have the opportunity to take that next step, but we're going to have to work for it because we're not sneaking up on anyone next year."
In Morse's view, the same thinking should apply to the fact the perpetual champion of the AFC East, the New England Patriots, no longer has Tom Brady. Last week, Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
"Tom transcended the game of football. He's prolific, he's a generational talent," Morse said. "But at the same time, Bill Belichick's still over there and that dude's got tricks up his sleeve. I'm not thinking anything except the fact that we still have to attack this increasingly difficult division. I don't feel like the Patriots are going anywhere. Each team's different every year, so we'll figure it out. But I still think they're a force to be reckoned with and we'll have to attack that this season."
It isn't easy thinking football thoughts these days, even when you play the game for a living. For Morse, the priorities are the safety and health of his wife, Caitlin, and their baby daughter, Kennedy Marie, who was born on Feb. 26.
A week ago, Morse announced that he and his wife donated $100,000 to FeedMore WNY, formerly Meals on Wheels and the Food Bank. That satisfied a need to do something during a crisis that has put a halt to most hands-on activity, including that of the charitable variety.
At the moment, however, the pandemic continues to keep the world turned in its head. Morse credits Kennedy Marie's arrival with mitigating at least some of the feelings of anxiety he and his wife share.
"She is a bundle of joy and she has just honestly kept us sane in this whole crazy deal," Morse said. "You do find yourself sitting there, with so much uncertainty and so many unknowns, a little stressed out. And for me, the best thing I can do is be with my family and take it one day at a time, one week at a time because this is evolving one day and one week at a time.
“Unfortunately, I think this might take a little bit longer than people imagined, but I think when we take a step back after this all kind of settles down, it'll be pretty interesting to see how we've grown as people, as communities and as a country and as just an entire planet."