Coordinator corner: Bills coaches highlight the trenches pre-Steelers

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The Buffalo Bills coaching staff is prepping for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This week, coordinators Leslie Frazier and Brian Daboll both highlighted a couple of Bills players that they think could be difference makers for Buffalo in Week 1.

For the offensive coordinator, Daboll is keeping a tight eye on left tackle Dion Dawkins.

During training camp, Dawkins missed extensive time due to a bout with COVID-19. While healthy now, Dawkins is still trying to get back into football shape and boosting his endurance has been a point of emphasis for him.

“Every bit that I touch that grass, I’m starting to feel more and more like myself,” Dawkins said after a preseason game this summer. “Shoot, I mean three, after three plays I was like [breathes heavy], but it’s a part of it. I’m actually extremely thankful that I got the amount of plays that I got. It helped me tremendously.”

Fast forward to now, Daboll said this week that Dawkins has successfully improved his stamina.

“He’s worked hard. He’s done a lot of extra stuff too to try and get his wind up,” Daboll said via press conference. “I think he’s put himself in as good of a position as he could put himself in working with our strength staff.

“He’s battled back. Obviously a tough deal to battle back from but he’s done a good job and I think he’s in a good spot,” Daboll added.

But Daboll also knows that the Steelers just have an elite pass rush overall. Winning matchups in the trenches will go the distance for Buffalo.

“It’s hard, it’s hard to block them and they pressure a lot, too,” Daboll said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Defensively, the early-season focus will be on tackle Ed Oliver. Facing a new-look Steelers offensive line which includes rookie Kendrick Green starting at center, Oliver should make his presence felt in Week 1.

Heading into 2021, many are setting the bar high for Oliver after a few up-and-down seasons to start his career.

Sunday is an opportunity for Oliver to get off to a good start and Frazier thinks Oliver has it in him to take the next step.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth throughout the entire offseason. He’s had a really good training camp. Good preseason. Expecting him to have a really good season as well,” Frazier said. “One of the things we really challenged him to do is to consistently make those big plays for us up front. Using his ability to get off of blocks, chase the ball down like he does and to just be consistently doing that and he’s done that. He has a strong desire to be good, he wants to be good.”

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