ORCHARD PARK — Only the most fervent Bills fans pay much attention to what’s happening during Organized Team Activities – OTAs to the junkies – and even mini-camp.
For many, their interest isn’t piqued until training camp, for others it doesn’t begin until the preseason schedule commences.
But, starting Tuesday, the Bills open their mandatory, three-day mini-camp and ahead of the initial gathering – 88 players are on the roster, only 50 of them holdovers, including all 10 who finished 2017 on the practice squad – coach Sean McDermott hosted a session with the media following Buffalo’s voluntary OTAs.
Virtually all of the questions were about personnel and, before you ask, he was profoundly evasive about the Bills’ quarterback situation, except to reiterate that, heading into mini-camp, trade acquisition A.J. McCarron is No. 1, second-year pro Nathan Peterman, No. 2, and rookie first-round draft choice Josh Allen, No. 3.
He conceded circumstances could alter that order, but offered precious-little else.
However, McDermott was considerably more illuminating about some other Buffalo players.
ONE OF particular interest to area Bills fans is former Alfred State star and Temple graduate Rod Streater.
The 30-year-old wide receiver played four seasons in Oakland and seemed to have found a home with the Raiders, catching 99 balls (15 yards per reception) with seven touchdowns in his first two years.. But the next two seasons, due to injury, he played only 10 games total, with 10 catches and one TD.
Streater was cut by Oakland after the 2015 campaign, signed with San Francisco and had 18 catches for two scores before being waived at season’s end.
The wide receiver-needy Bills quickly picked him up but in the midst of a promising training camp, he suffered a season-ending dislocated big toe. Buffalo waived him via injury settlement but re-signed Streater this spring.
“You start with the person and the DNA he exhibited last year (in) our time together,” McDermott said. “He was a guy that really worked his tail off on the field, played with a certain level of intensity, energy and toughness that really personifies some of what we’re about.
“He was having a good camp from a production standpoint and then he had the injury. He was a guy that we targeted to bring back because he fits in some of those intangible ways and now we want to give him another chance to be productive again and stay healthy this time.”
SOME OF McDermott’s observations on other players:
Defensive end Shaq Lawson (first round 2016): “For Shaq, this is a time to grow, to learn … it’s time that he steps up. He’s adopting the habits of what it takes to be successful in this league on and off the field and he’s consistent both on his approach off the field as he is on the field. That’s what we’re really looking for out of Shaq … adjusting to the NFL, adjusting to what’s expected (from him) so he continues to grow and improve in those areas.”
Running back Chris Ivory (free agent 2018): “Chris (is) obviously adjusting to a new offense systematically; we know what he brings to the table. We like what Chris has done with the ball in his hands ... without the ball in his hands. He brings a veteran presence to the table in that room which is important. He’s been a nice addition.”
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (first round 2018): “He’s adjusting like the rest of our rookies. He’s embraced that growth mindset, adjusting to life on the field, to life off the field as well. He’s done a good job to this point like many of our rookies, and (I’m) excited about the future for all of them. The thing that stands out most with Tremaine is his serious approach to the game. He’s a student of the game and passionate about the game. Those are good qualities early on.”
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (free agent 2018): “Brandon (Beane, general manager) and I both have experience with Star in Carolina. To watch him grow and develop and then to have been apart for a year and to see him now and how he’s developed more. I really enjoy watching him, because I was more hands-on in Carolina as we drafted Star and now, as a head coach, being able to step back and just watch and smile a little bit watching him grow off the field as a man, as a husband, as a father … that’s been enjoyable for me. To put him in a room with the likes of Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, Harrison Phillips, some of the other players that are already (here), I think he’s a good piece to the overall puzzle for us.”
(Chuck Pollock, a Times Herald sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com)