Edmunds ready for the challenge of being Bills' defensive leader

The 20-year-old linebacker is looking to build on solid a rookie season

Sal Capaccio
April 16, 2019 - 11:49 am

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


Tremaine Edmunds isn’t even old enough to legally drink alcohol, yet here he stood in front of a packed room of Buffalo media members as the lone defensive player on the roster chosen to speak on the very first day of the offseason program.

Edmunds and quarterback Josh Allen, also only going into his second season, were the only two players made available to the media right before head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane answered questions about the offseason, the roster, and the draft.

Allen would be expected at the podium. He’s now the unquestioned starting quarterback and leader of the offense, but often times it’s a veteran who is chosen to speak on behalf of the defense. Last year, it was a trio of defensive leaders who stood up there. Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander, and Micah Hyde all answered questions after the first day of workouts. Williams retired, but Alexander and Hyde are still here and still leaders of the team. So it says a lot about how the Bills feel about Edmunds to place him in that spot.

“It means a lot to me,” he said, aware of his role on the first day. “Just knowing that those guys trust me to come out here and speak to you guys means a lot. They showed a lot of leadership last year, so take those things, try to do it in my own in my own way, learn from it and go forward from there.”

There was a lot made last year about Williams passing the torch to Edmunds during some defensive meetings later in the season. The linebacker, who turns 21 next month, was already starting to take on a leadership role off the field to pair with a solid rookie season on it. After some early-season struggles, Edmunds really began to show why the Bills moved up to 16th overall in the first round to grab him as the season went on. He was quicker at diagnosing, better at tackling, and looked more comfortable in the middle of Leslie Frazier’s defense.

He was even named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month in December after recording 43 tackles, four passes defended, one sack and two interceptions, including when he became the youngest player in NFL History to intercept a pass when he picked off Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in Week 14.

“I was young coming in and learning a new system,” he said of last year. “So I have a year under my belt now. So now, it’s about going back and fine-tuning what I did last year and what we did as a team. Learning from there, sitting down with the guys, getting more into depth with it now. Talking more football, more situational work since everybody now has a foundation. We’re all kind of on the same talk now as we got through it a little bit last year. But just going from there and learning from there and getting better.”

For his rookie year, Edmunds tallied 121 total tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. 

Edmunds also has two brothers who play in the NFL, both on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and all who went to Virginia Tech. His oldest brother, Trey, is a running back. His other brother, Terrell, is a safety who was also drafted in the first round last year, the first time two brothers were ever selected in the first round in the same draft. Tremaine said he’s been training with both brothers this offseason, taking advantage of all their experiences together.

“I pretty much just have been getting stronger overall, trying to get my speed a little bit faster, stay tuning toward that,” he said.  “A little bit more muscle mass, things like that. I’ve been doing a lot of work with my brothers, as well…..pretty much communicating with each other, talking about football, situational stuff, and picking each other’s brains.”

Tremaine is now back on his own in Buffalo, and ready to be the leader of the Bills defense.

“It’s Year 2 for me, so obviously leadership is going to pick up some,” he explained. “Focusing in on those points, taking that next step in my game, building the whole team. I’m ready for that challenge. I’m ready for that next step. I’m excited for it.”

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