With Buffalo Bills training camp beginning this weekend, some of the team's top players are starting to make the media rounds once again as NFL coverage ramps up for the start of the 2014 season. Eric Wood, a Bills captain and one of the team's more candid interviewers, made an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday morning, where he talked about his burgeoning relationship with quarterback EJ Manuel.
"He’s my guy," Wood said of Manuel. "I brought him out to the Kentucky Derby this year with me, and we’ve really become close, which I feel like needs to happen with that center-quarterback relationship. He’s my guy moving forward, and I’m super excited for him."
It is, of course, commonplace for a veteran offensive player to talk up a young quarterback in July, which Wood did when asked about Manuel's prospects in 2014.
"EJ struggled a bit last year, but a lot of that was when he was coming off injuries and didn’t have a lot of practice time," Wood said. "Given all this time in camp, and the way he’s grown this offseason mentally and physically, I expect big things out of him."
During practices earlier this summer, rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins made some headlines (that term is used loosely) when he pointed out that after a few weeks of padless practices, his chemistry with Manuel was not where it needed to be. Wood was asked about that chemistry, and again conveyed confidence in the two young players.
"Chemistry is extremely important. I think EJ and Sammy will definitely get there," Wood said. "They made some plays through the spring that were really eye-opening. I think EJ’s really getting better as a player, and Sammy’s going to be a NFL wide receiver - probably a NFL star - very quickly. He’s got a tremendous work ethic, and his skill set is pretty obvious for those who have watched him play football."
Wood and the rest of his Bills teammates - including those that will be in early to Orchard Park tomorrow - will report for training camp duty on Friday at St. John Fisher College.