ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Josh Allen took it upon himself to be the Buffalo Bills’ one-man welcoming committee in sending a text to each of the team’s numerous free agent additions last month.
“It didn’t take a whole lot of effort to do it,” Allen said, discussing how many of the newcomers revealed how impressed they were in the quarterback being among the first to greet them. “I was just trying to let them know that I’m happy that they’re with us, and just trying to reach out and get my foot in the door and start that relationship as early as possible.”
The next step in the introductory phase came Monday, when the Bills opened their voluntary workout sessions.
For Allen, it was the second-year player’s first real opportunity to begin putting names to the many new faces Buffalo added in essentially revamping its entire offense. Of the Bills’ 17 veteran free agents signed this offseason, 11 play offensive positions.
It’s a group that includes established receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown, tight end Tyler Kroft, and running back Frank Gore. Beasley and Brown join a bunch of receivers that lacked experience and a proven threat, while Gore will be teamed with LeSean McCoy in a backfield featuring two players over 31.
The remaining seven are offensive linemen, including center Mitch Morse, in Buffalo’s bid to upgrade what had been a patchwork unit a year ago. Aside from Allen leading the team with 631 yards rushing, Buffalo ground attack sputtered, and the line had difficulty in pass protection.
Though excited, Allen isn’t sure what to make of all the new additions because, as he put it: “It’s my first offseason, so I don’t really know how things work.”
The Bills are hoping the newcomers spur a dramatic improvement and play a role in continuing Allen’s development after he showed signs of improvement as last season progressed. The first-round draft pick initially struggled when being thrust into the starting role after Nathan Peterman unraveled in a season-opening 47-3 loss at Baltimore.
Allen averaged 151 yards passing with five touchdowns (three rushing), five interceptions and a lost fumble in going 2-3 before being sidelined by a sprained right throwing arm. He closed the season with a 3-3 record in which he averaged 207 yards passing with 12 touchdowns (four rushing), seven interceptions and a lost fumble.
“It means we’ve got a lot of work to do. A lot of different new minds trying to work with each other now, trying to build that camaraderie,” Allen said. “It’s not going to be perfect right away, and we don’t expect it to be perfect. But we’re starting that communication now, and hopefully we can start getting on the same page with everything.”
Allen has already begun developing a bond with Morse, who is projected to take over at center.
The first thing Allen learned was Morse isn’t big on spicy chicken wings.
“Honey-butter barbecue, Cajun, he can do that all day, but hot is not his thing,” Allen said with a laugh after introducing Morse to his favorite wings restaurant. “But lucky to have him and glad to have him, especially with all we’ve got going on.”
NOTES: Allen said his right elbow feels fine, and added he spent a few weeks working with a physical therapist this offseason. ... The offseason program coincides with the Bills opening their newly built two-floor, $18-million workout facility added on to their practice fieldhouse. “It’s amazing. I think it speaks for itself,” linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. “The owners really did pretty much what we could ask for.”... The Bills will hold their first on-field team practice on May 20.