Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott doesn’t put players on blast in the media unless it’s to send a message, and the one he sent to his team on Sunday should ring loud and clear; get vaccinated and follow the protocols.
Starting left tackle Dion Dawkins missed the first three weeks of training camp on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive before the opening of camp. Dawkins, along with Ike Boettger both tested positive and general manager Brandon Beane said at his opening press conference that one was vaccinated and one wasn’t. Boettger returned in Week 2 of camp and started the preseason game on Friday night, the day after Dawkins was cleared to return.
During that game, rookie Spencer Brown was taken advantage of at the left tackle spot vacated by Dawkins. Outside of the Senior Bowl, Brown hasn’t played football in more than a year. Then vet Bobby Hart came in and did his best turnstile impersonation. The Bills need Dawkins.
“He’s not close to where he needs to be to play and help us,” McDermott bluntly said Sunday. “He’s got a long road here. He’s going to control what he can control, and so are we. He’s got to continue to work hard to get himself back to where he’s – I mean, this is what, going on week four of training camp at this point? So, he’s missed a lot of time.”
Dang, that’s direct.
Dawkins’s first practice was Sunday and he worked off to the side with trainers and did some individual position work. He did not participate in team drills.
“I’m sure there’s a ton of teachable moments as far as COVID goes,” McDermott went on to say. “Just hope that resonates with the people it needs to resonate with. Again, all of us. We need to all be vigilant about doing the right things.”
Dawkins — a team captain in 2020 — isn’t in danger of losing his spot in the lineup or roster, so McDermott is using him to send his message to the rest of the team. Stay healthy. Stay vigilant. Get the vaccine if you haven’t.
McDermott did say that a benefit of Dawkins missing time were the number of high-quality reps Brown could take at left tackle. That’s fine in training camp, when the defensive ends aren’t going to take down the quarterback. If Dawkins misses time in the regular season or is less than his best because of conditioning, that’s a different story.