How rusty is defensive end Gregory Rousseau after not playing football since 2019?
Can 6-foot-9 tackle Spencer Brown really move as well as reported?
How dependable can wide receiver Marquez Stevenson be in the return game?
The Buffalo Bills hope to begin getting answers to these questions and a lot more beginning next weekend, when they hold their rookie camp.
Dates for each team's offseason workouts were announced Thursday, and the Bills will hold their rookie minicamp from May 14-16. The dates for their organized team activities (OTAs) are May 24-25, May 27, June 1-2, June 4, June 7-8 and June 10-11. Those are all voluntary.
A mandatory minicamp will be held June 15-17 for all players on the roster who are under contract.
By going heavy on the lines in the draft, the discovery process will be slow for the Bills because hitting is not permitted by the NFL in any practice before training camp. Nevertheless, teams still can begin to get a feel for the players who are best prepared and where they begin to fit on the depth chart.
Few, if any, starting jobs are believed to be up for grabs. But many depth spots are to be determined.
Attendance will be difficult to predict. The NFLPA has recommended that players skip all voluntary workouts this offseason, including rookie minicamps.
Veterans on many teams already have united to declare they won't be attending OTAs. The Bills haven't received word one way or another, though general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have been having productive discussions with team leaders.
Complicating matters more are two factors:
1. The NFL has ruled that teams invite no more than five non-roster rookies to camp on a tryout basis.
2. The league hasn't ruled on whether teams can have full 90-man offseason rosters with no COVID-19 restrictions. This decision is keeping Beane from rushing to fill the roster to the limit, only to be forced to cut some players without having a chance to properly evaluate them.
Beane also went on record this week saying that he would think of cutting players who don't get vaccinated for COVID-19 "because it would be an advantage," he said in an interview on the team's website. "I think there’s going to be some incentives. If you have ‘X’ number percent of your players and staff vaccinated, you can live normal. Let’s just call it `back to the old days.' "
This was a bold but dangerous statement by the general manager because a double standard would certainly apply if star quarterback Josh Allen, who last month said he was not sure if he would get the shot(s), tries to report to camp having not been vaccinated.
No way would Beane even cut him for something like that.
So it's a situation worth watching.
In the meantime, let the countdown begin to rookie camp and whatever may come after it.