Bills' OTA Attendance: Good But Not Perfect

DT Star Lotulelei, who opted out of last season, remains absent in Week 2 along with DE Jerry Hughes, DT Vernon Butler and others.
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Hard to figure why NFL veterans do what they do sometimes.

That applies to a certain amount of Bills veterans who have chosen to skip organized team activities (OTAs) when almost the entire team has chosen to participate.

Although attendance is purely optional in this voluntary portion of the offseason, it's not unreasonable to wonder if players like defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who opted out of last season due to COVID-19 concerns, and Daryl Williams, who re-signed this offseason for another year but is far from a lock to start again at right tackle, are doing themselves more harm than good.

The full list of missing players, which isn't very long, has been provided by Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic. It also includes center Mitch Morse and defensive end Jerry Hughes.

The Bills are counting on Lotulelei to return to anchor the middle of a defensive line that wasn't as good in 2020 as it was the year before. Williams wound up with the job at right tackle but will be challenged by rookies Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle and maybe even Cody Ford, who used to play there before being injured and then moving to guard.

Still, the attendance being nearly perfect has the team in great spirits in a year when the NFLPA is strongly recommending its membership stay home during OTAs.

Safety Jordan Poyer, who other than not being willing to address the team's continuing and potentially troublesome COVID-19 vaccination issue, likes the state his veteran defense is in.

"We respect everybody's decision," Poyer said, "but at the end of the day, you know, we're here for working. And even the guys I know that are not here, they're still working and continuing to keep contact with the guys that are here, so it's very positive."

One of those players is Lotulelei, who apparently is a trimmed-down version of his enormous, 315-pound version of himself, as a recent Twitter post by Dan Fetes of WHAM shows.

Poyer knows how fortunate he is for the Bills' continuity. He and fellow safety Micah Hyde have been starting together since 2017. Cornerback Tre'Davious White is entering his fifth year as a starter and possibly his third working with fellow starting cornerback Levi Wallace. Linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds will enter their fourth year starting together.

And while the defensive line is transitioning toward younger players, it still has Lotulelei, sixth-year player Vernon Butler and defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, who have each played more than a decade in this league.

"You can say this is the most experienced team that I've been around as far as in the offseason going into a training camp," Poyer said. "... We've all played together for a long time, and you don't necessarily see that a lot in the league. So it is special to have, and we know we've got to continue to work to get to where we've got to go."

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro.