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'Camp Rex’ Opens At St. John Fisher

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'Camp Rex’ Opens At St. John Fisher

Photos by Courtesy AP

Paul “Mr. NFL” Adamo

Camp officially opened with a 10 AM practice this morning and Coach Rex Ryan and his optimistic Buffalo Bills were welcomed with a large crowd of enthusiastic fans. An estimated 2,000 plus travelled to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford to get their first look at the new coach and his large ‘media persona’ which makes Ryan a fan favorite and a sought after interview. The attendance was one of the largest opening camp crowds in 10 years.

As practice started he didn’t disappoint, as he turned towards the stands raising his stands high to exhort the fans to cheer louder and then fired a football into the stands as surprised Bill’s supporters scrambled to catch the pass. Smiling broadly and firing out commands Rex was as entertaining to follow as any of his players on the field. It was obvious the fans have embraced their new head coach along with all the pre-season hype centered around his team’s chances of ending a 16 year playoff absence.

Joe and Mary Helton from Amherst, NY have been to every opening practice since the Bill’s moved their camp to SJF in 2000. “We love the Bill’s and this is the year……Rex is the coach they needed for this team”, Joe told me from his spot perched high up overlooking the practice field in Growney Stadium. Mary was equally full of praise for the team, “Best talent we have had in years and the playoffs look really good.” Both are die-hard fans with over 40 years of dedicated passion for their team and looking around at the camp you can sense that many share the Helton’s belief that this year will be different.

In comparing the differences in practice pace and drills this year from the previous two year under Doug Marrone Ryan uses a faster moving, upbeat approach with shorter time between individual reps for drills which will lead to more diversity and higher intensity for the players. He likes all out effort and intensity and his teams have usually performed that way, especially on defense.

The franchise question mark is the quarterback position, whoever emerges as the starter, a battle between Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel and Tyrod Taylor and whether the Bill’s can get solid, consistent performances throughout the 16 game schedule from the most important position on an NFL roster as the game is played today. An effective quarterback is the key in developing a potent passing game and a scheme that will compliment the running game and defense which both appear strong. If Rex Ryan can solve the Bill’s long, ongoing QB void, he may become that “star” coach who will lead them into the playoffs.


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