The locals from Wyoming seem to find it amusing that one of the best vacations I cherish is going to Bills training camp. Nothing is more relaxing and fun for me than sitting by the side of the Erie Canal and hanging out in Pittsford. Besides, I don’t mind providing some chuckles for a few folks who get their jollies out of nagging me about my questionable sanity as a ‘die-hard’ Bills fan here.
Not Europe, not Australia, not even the blue waters of the Caribbean have the same pull on me as heading to Pittsford for training camp. To be honest, I usually end up having a much better time there than anywhere away from our home in Wyoming. It’s become a periodic ritual since 2006, and one that brings many cherished memories.
My husband is a wonderful man, and after nearly 27 years he has come to understand that the best birthday present he can give me (and himself I’m sure) is to send me to Bills camp when it fits in our schedule. Since I share a birthday that is usually during camp each year, he’s come to know that sending me to training camp is the gift that keeps on giving. He gets rid of me for a week, and I have the time of my life mingling with Bills fans. This year I will be attending the following practices:
Sunday, July 27th @ 2 PM
Monday, July 28th @ 8 AM
No Practice on Tuesday
Wednesday, July 30th @ 2 PM
Thursday, July 31st @ 8 AM
After attending several camps since 2006, and with the help of a camp veteran and dear friend, I’ve developed an effective strategy for getting as much camp experience into my blood as possible. My goal is to deliver a ‘wyobabble’ view of camp, especially for fans that cannot attend. The years when I miss camp, I have come to rely upon fan reporters for the best insight to what they see during practice. So, I try to return the favor when I can.
This year my goal is to start using my twitter account, @wyobilzfan, to cover observations live as I move around practice. As we lead up to camp, I’d like to encourage you to follow me on Twitter and look for my blog articles here that will feature YOUR fan questions.
I want to communicate what I see at camp through the filter of your questions. Having gone through several camp experiences now, I have noticed that camps can be very different in terms of what you see regarding both performance and behavior by players and staff.
I’ve learned that each camp experience is very different, and what it means the following season in terms of productivity. Some players as I’ve mentioned in prior blog posts, like Kyle Williams and Fred Jackson, just stood out as obvious rising stars from what I observed. The other thing I like to focus on are observations regarding how players are relating to one another, both on and off the field during practice and afterward.
In fact, my favorite camp experiences are the 8 AM practices in the middle of the week. It is far less crowded and there are fewer distractions. My ardent camp mentor taught me a lot about helping me focus on taking in the camp experience. I’ve met other fans that are coaches at the high school and college level, and they have been an immense help at teaching me the nuances regarding how to watch each drill. I’m grateful for how much I learn from other fans. It’s always an amazing experience.
Some of the Bills best football minds hang out at camp. There is a great guy who has been patient enough to explain ‘Offensive Line 101 for Dummies.’ I’ve learned more about the game of football from fans like him at camp than in any other place.
While I love to attend games, there is not a better experience for this fan than communing with other Bills fans in Pittsford during late July or August. To be able to enjoy a day outdoors with other Bills fans is about as good as it gets.
A few people on Twitter have already responded to my call for questions about what you might like to see covered as a camp observer. I am building a list of your questions by ‘favoriting’ them on Twitter. Feel free to send me your thoughts and comments about what you’d like to see covered at camp so I can personally address as many questions as I can.
For example, Kevin McDonald commented on my previous blog article about emerging players last week, and asked about keeping an eye on Chris Gragg at camp. He made a good point predicting before the draft that the Bills would not select Ebron because they already have an “Ebron type” in Gragg. I think that’s spot on. Thanks, Kevin.
@suew777 asked about keeping an eye on Mike Williams and EJ’s ability to trust himself to hit receivers on the move. Great point and question, especially in light of Sammy Watkins’ recent comment that Manuel needed to learn to trust his receivers more. I’ll be commenting a lot more on that later, but suffice it to state I think @suew777 is absolutely on target. You can bet I’ll be watching to see how much jawing goes on between them at practice. Thanks, @suew777.
@TVanderklok asked me to examine the progress at the guard and RT positions. I already mentioned in my last post how the offensive line being put together is one of my greatest interests of all position issues at camp. This will be high on my list. Thanks @TVanderklok for a great suggestion.
Over the next few weeks, I will try to create a list of your questions, and prioritize my time because there is so much going on simultaneously during practice. I’d appreciate your comments following my blog entries. Also, please stay tuned to my Twitter account for instant updates during practices. I will try to put my head on a swivel and report anything you might be interested in knowing about what is going on at training camp.
Let’s see if we can personalize this camp experience for those who cannot attend camp. This year camp already feels very different for me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this is the first camp since the team is officially in ownership limbo. Not having Mr. Wilson around (even if he hadn’t physically been to camp for awhile) will seem very weird.
This process can only be as good and productive as the input you give me. Save the dates I will be at camp in your favorite lists. Help me make this a great experience for as many fans as possible. It’s fun for me to do this, so let me know your thoughts and/or comments here or holla’ at me on Twitter. Thanks and GO BILLS.