Training camp often means that franchises have to make big decisions, and the Buffalo Bills did just that. The team refused to be kept in limbo by outside linebacker and defensive end Aaron Schobel's Favre syndrome, also known as will-I-or-won't-I-retire-itis. He has suffered from the disease for seven long months, keeping the team awaiting his decision.
With training camp in full swing, the Bills grew tired of waiting. Bills general manager Buddy Nix released a statement on the Bills' website, stating, "...we are at the point where we are moving forward and have informed his agent of our plans. Aaron has been a very good player for the Bills and we wish him and his family the best, but there comes a point where we have to move forward and that point is today. We are focusing on the team's best interests." He went on to say that Schobel failing to show up for training camp was what sparked the team to made the decision.
Schobel has been with the Buffalo Bills since he entered the league as the Bills' second-round draft pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. He was immediately a starter and has been so ever since. He was selected to two Pro Bowls in his career, in 2007 and 2008. In his career, he has tallied 483 tackles, 78 sacks, 26 passes defended, three interceptions and 19 forced fumbles. Last season, he started every regular season game and had 56 tackles, 10 sacks, four passes defended, one interception (for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles.
Part of moving forward for the Bills meant adding a new linebacker. The team added free agent linebacker Donovan Woods to its roster. To make room, the Bills parted ways with Nic Harris, who failed the team's physical. Woods spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has played six games in two seasons, tallying five tackles. He also spent part of last season on the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys. Harris is the Bills' fifth-round draft pick from 2009. Last season, he had 30 tackles in 15 games, including two starts.
The offensive side of the ball also saw a major change leading up to training camp, but it has more to do with wardrobe than personnel. New head coach Chan Gailey issued an order that every single one of the team's 14 offensive linemen will be required to wear knee braces on both knees throughout training camp. The argument is that the braces could help prevent injuries during training camp, and Gailey defended the decision even though players don't like wearing them. According to the Associated Press, knee braces during training camp have been standard practice for Gailey for more than a decade through his years as an NFL and collegiate coach.
The Bills kick off their preseason on Aug. 13 with an away game against the Washington Redskins. Their regular season begins on Sept. 12, when they will host the Miami Dolphins. With the team's new coaching and strategy, Buffalo Bills tickets are sure to be popular this season.