What Young Buffalo Bills Contestants Learned From NFL Player of the Year Von Miller – Buffalo Bills Blog

LAS VEGAS – Von Miller leaned to the side, looking ready to lunge at the quarterback. Standing beside defensive end Greg Russo, Buffalo Bills’ first-round pick for 2021, was watching the moves of the Hall of Fame midfield as Miller put his feet up and hands and listened to his new teammate explain his off-line moves.

Miller was showing off his skills on a high school grass field under the Las Vegas morning sun during his sixth pass summit last week. The event saw the NFL’s top four active captains—Miller (115.5 sacks), Chandler Jones (107.5), Cameron Jordan (107) and Justin Houston (102)—share tips with other defenders on how they’ve fared.

Russo was one of three players out of the 21 players, along with teammates Boji Basham (Round 2, 2021) and AJ Epenesa (Round 2, 2020). They accepted Miller’s call to learn from the best ahead of a season of high expectations for them and the team.

“I’m an open book and I’m going to impose some of my classes on them,” Miller said of the junior arcade passers at Bells. “I’m going to impose on them some of the things I know. It’s just the little things.”

Miller and Associates spent the day training their peers on how to handle different situations and providing details on how to approach the line of scrimmage before snapping. Several veterans went into detail about clippings from their own movie where Russo, Basham, and Ebenissa sat at a table together to take notes.

“To get a chance to physically get out here and see it physically, and get hands-on attention, I find it’s a huge leap,” Basham told ESPN. But also learn from other players around the league as well.”

The Bills want to get better at acquiring opposing quarterbacks after back-to-back playoff losses to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City president, so they’ve invested heavily in Miller this off season with a six-year, $120 million deal. But Miller won’t be able to do it all on his own, and his impact on his teammates off the field will likely be just as important as his presence on it.

“To get to know these guys, these guys who get to know me, on and off the football field, Vegas is the perfect place for that, we can hang out, just relax,” Miller said. “…Being in OTAs with all these guys, man, it fosters that respect, and earns their respect from them.

“I come here, and I work, and I break my neck for these guys and you’re building their brothers now. So, when the season starts and it’s fourth and long and we need a play, everyone trusts each other.”

The bills need more Rousseau, Basham and Ebenissa after spending so much money on them. The Bills finished the 2021 regular season with 42 sacks, tied for 11th and sixth in pass win rate (45.6%), but the team lacked consistent dominant passes that opponents should be aware of at all times. The young trio gathered for eight of those sacks, and Rousseau led the group with four.

“This is going to be a huge vacation for these guys,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “They are in a position where they have to, we really, really need them to grow and develop and make a mark on our defense — not just in a supporting role, but in an essential role.”

Buffalo added to his defensive line in other ways this season, bringing back Shaq Lawson and defensive intervention Jordan Phillips, in addition to blocking Daguan Jones and Tim Settle. They chose not to re-contract veterans Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, who played the first and third most defensive picks between the Bills defense end last season.

The Bills also picked the fifth-year defensive tackle option Ed Oliver (four sacks in 2021) in May, tying the 2019 first-round pick to the team for at least the next two seasons.

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“Maybe it’s the consistency piece, where you kind of know what you’re going to get every day, that’s important,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “They got past that point when they were young, and it was kind of up and down, calm down here, erupt here.”

While Summit has been valuable to learn from a variety of players and coaches, Miller has been helping his teammates during off-season training as well. Entering his third year, Ebenissa noticed how Miller told during the team’s OTAs that he was working on the lunge corner. During the rehearsal, Miller pointed to the reps as Epenesa had a good angle.

When Eenesa was interviewing The Bills before the draft in 2020, he told The Bills that he modeled his game on Miller.

“People will see, and they will want protection from him because of his reputation, and that kind of opens the door to others,” said Ebenissa. “If they’re going to focus on it, we have to be able to carry out judgment ourselves and put on plays whenever the need arises as well.”

In the more than 40 minutes Miller spent shattering his film at the top, he praised the efforts of his former teammate Aaron Donald and the other Rams teammates, noting how they brought out the best in him, as Miller had four sacks and 18 presses during the Rams playoff to win the title Super Bowl LVI. Biles hopes to do the same with his new teammates.

“[Miller] He really took youth under his wing. He said he would. General Manager Brandon Bean said actions speak louder than words. “I really appreciated that he wanted to invite these guys to his camp. What a great experience. I spoke to a couple of them yesterday after practice and they just talked about how many notes they took there and how great it was. They are excited to get back to practicing and using what they learned.”

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