Emmanuel Sanders went to a Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback. He won a Super Bowl catching passes from Peyton Manning. He played in yet another Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo. Sanders spent the 2020 season with Drew Brees, the only player in league history to reach 80,000 career passing yards. Given his experiences, it would be hard for any quarterback to impress Sanders, who is getting ready for his first season with Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Despite his previous experiences, Sanders said he was in awe of a throw Allen made during Thursday's training camp practice.
Sanders saw first hand what Bills fans and Buffalo opponents saw throughout the 2020 season. A year after he helped guide Buffalo to a wild-card playoff berth, Allen earned Pro Bowl honors after scoring 45 touchdowns and amassing nearly 5,000 total yards. Allen's play helped the Bills capture their first division title and playoff win in 25 years.
Not only is he impressed with Allen's physical ability, Sanders likes his new quarterback's "backyard" mentality.
"I'm old school, backyard football," Sanders said. "Let's strap up. Let's play football. That's just how I think. That's kind of how Josh plays too. 'Hey look, just get open and I'll find you the ball.' I think sometimes, when people are just talking about football in general, they're overthinking. At the end of the day, football is a game. You've got to have fun ... you can't be a robot. That's my approach and that's Josh's approach, and that's kind of everybody's approach around here. Let's just go out, get to your spot, get open and make plays."
Sanders' comments could have also been used to describe the way Jim Kelly ran Buffalo's prolific "K-Gun" offense during the team's glory years of the early '90s. Kelly and the Bills' quick-paced passing game played an integral role in the Bills becoming the first franchise to appear in four consecutive Super Bowls.
Andre Reed was Kelly's go-to receiver on those teams, but the Bills' passing game also leaned heavily on James Lofton, a fellow Hall of Fame receiver who was in the later stages of his career. Sanders is surely hoping he can play a similar role to Lofton while helping complement fellow receiver Stefon Diggs, last year's league leader in receptions and receiving yards.
"I'm excited about what they've created out here," Sanders said of the 2021 Bills. "I think we've got an opportunity."