By Jay Skurski
Man for man, the Buffalo Bills said the mood in the locker room Monday had a different feel.
That's what happens when the regular season arrives, especially with a division opponent waiting for them Sunday.
"We have been looking forward to this for a while," center Eric Wood said. "This is a big game for us, a divisional opponent. We are geared up now."
"If it was non-division it would still be big because it is kickoff [weekend]," receiver Stevie Johnson said, "but this is our division opponent. We will see them later on. Who knows? We may see them for a spot in the playoffs. This is big for both of us."
Even those players who haven't been part of the rivalry yet could notice a change.
"Yeah, the [atmosphere] is very different," rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore said. "A lot more guys are very serious, and it just feels like a game week."
Running back Fred Jackson said that's a lesson all rookies have to learn.
"We have to let these guys know, just like we did when we showed them preseason is another level up from training camp. Now, opening the season is another level," Jackson said. "Things are going to get faster. Guys are going to start making plays. Defenses bring more pressure. Offenses get more exotic. So expect a lot of different stuff than we saw in the preseason and know that it's going to be amped up that much more."
Bills coach Chan Gailey felt the team carried that intensity into practice.
"I thought we looked fast on the practice field today," Gailey said. "I fully anticipated that, though. And we'll have a day off tomorrow, and I think we'll look fast again Wednesday, and we just have to keep working toward game day."