As they prepare to enter a season with the highest expectations in decades, the Buffalo Bills are finding a way to keep things light.
The Bills, just a few years removed from a 17-year playoff drought and perpetual mediocrity, have become a popular Super Bowl pick just one season after reaching the AFC Championship game. Players and coaches have spoken about managing the expectations and dealing with the pressure of moving away from underdog status, and two of the team’s stars found a way to let off some steam in practice.
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Star Quarterback, Receiver ‘Fight’ in Practice
Video shared by the Bills this week showed quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs engaging in a bit of horseplay during practice. The two exchanged some punches in some light-hearted shadow boxing before Diggs pounced on Allen as he took a knee, tackling the quarterback to the ground.
This is the second time in as many days that Allen has gotten some viral attention for his practice hijinks. Earlier in the week, he made a poor attempt at wide receiver during the conclusion of practice, letting the ball plunk off his helmet as he held his arms straight up into the air.
The Bills have just three more days before they open the season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting a season met with high expectations. The Bills are a consensus pick to repeat as AFC East champions, and many have pegged them as a Super Bowl favorite. In a recent simulation of the 2021 season, ESPN predicted that the Bills would defeat the Green Bay Packers to take the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
Seeking Motivation for Upcoming Season
While Allen and his teammates have found a way to keep practices loose, the Pro Bowl quarterback is very serious about the season ahead. Allen told ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques that the way last season ended, with a crushing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the conference championship, left a sour taste in his mouth. Allen said he believes the team didn’t do enough to get over the hump, and is digging deep for motivation for the upcoming season.
“I have the same mindset and same mentality of [having a] chip on my shoulder. I was in junior college not too long ago. So to be sitting where I am, actually it’s a great feeling. But … the name of the game is winning championships. We won’t stop until we’re there, whether it’s working on the field or in the weight room and in the meeting rooms, just trying to be the best that we can be and give ourselves a chance.”
While the team faces high expectations, so too does Allen personally. A season after he finished second in MVP voting, a number of pundits have pegged Allen as the favorite this year. It could be challenging for Allen to improve on his performance from last season, when he broke a number of team records while throwing for 4,544 yards with 37 touchdown passes, along with another eight rushing scores and a receiving touchdown.