Milano keeps quiet while marching to his own ‘boom, boom’ beat

AP Photo Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano defends a pass against Michael Mayer of the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half Sunday in Orchard Park.

ORCHARD PARK — Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano is a player of numerous accolades and very few words, even when it comes to the topic of his musical tastes.

Milano’s eyes lit up Wednesday when informed some of his teammates revealed he was a fan of house music.

“I don’t know nothing about that,” the seventh-year player said, laughing. “They’re just making up (stuff).”

As for what Milano might be into, the 2022 All-Pro player provided a blunt response.

“I’m into football,” he said.

It’s a perfect answer from a player who is as intensely focused on keeping his life private, as Milano is running down an opponent.

Whether true or not, the house music connection is not lost on many of Milano’s teammates because the “boom, boom, boom” beat of the sound reflects the familiar constant thud of tackles he makes during games.

“It’s usually just him laying the wood, you know, boom, boom, left and right,” said running back Damien Harris, who faced Milano twice a year during his first four seasons with the division-rival Patriots before signing with Buffalo this offseason. “You always know where 58 is on the field.”

Milano has not lost a step two games into his seventh season, with Buffalo (1-1) preparing play at Washington (2-0) on Sunday.

And Milano is doing so while adapting to a new defensive system to accommodate Buffalo losing starting middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in free agency.

Undersized second-year linebacker Terrel Bernard has taken over Edmunds’ spot, and the Bills have incorporated Taylor Rapp to play a safety/linebacker role during passing situations.

Known for his ability to penetrate the backfield, drop back in coverage and his sideline-to-sideline range, Milano is second on the team in having had a hand in 12 tackles, and leads Buffalo with two interceptions.

The first came when he dropped back into coverage and easily picked off Zach Wilson in a season-opening 22-16 overtime loss at the Jets. His next one came Sunday, when Milano jumped over the back of Raiders running back Josh Jacobs to cleanly catch Jimmy Garoppolo’s attempt in a 38-10 win.

“I actually had a pretty good vantage point to see it unfold, and just amazing,” coach Sean McDermott said. “It’s weird, though, because I almost expected Matt to do that when I saw the position he was in.”

His dual abilities against the run and pass are the result of Milano’s experience playing safety at Boston College. The question mark for Milano entering the 2017 draft was how his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame would translate to the NFL because he was regarded as being too slow to play safety and too small to play linebacker.

Selected in the fifth-round by Buffalo, Milano quickly found a fit in the Bills’ defense and has been a starter since late in his rookie season.

“That boy can do it all, man,” safety Micah Hyde said. “He’s no longer our secret on defense, because the word’s definitely getting out. He’s making too many plays.”

The spotlight is something that makes Milano uncomfortable. Though polite with reporters, he eschews lengthy interviews because the few times he’s done them immediately led to him getting hurt the following weekend.

His man-of-few-words approach has led to teammates poking fun at Milano in a sign of playful respect and bid to get a rise out of the linebacker.

It began during training camp, when Harris first raised the notion of Milano’s music tastes after saying the linebacker shared his playlist during a massage session.

“Clearly, not too many people know he likes house music, so I definitely outed him on that, and I do not care at all,” Harris said, laughing.

Tackle Dion Dawkins chimed in a few minutes later.

“Typical of Matt Milano, right?” Dawkins said. “Italian guru. All-Pro-Lano. Looks like a mannequin and bumps his chest to house music, Doot, doot, doot, doot.”

On Wednesday, quarterback Josh Allen got into it.

“Matt has like a French mafia house vibe. I can see that,” Allen said with a wink. “But it’s a very select type of music. Or he just listens to TV static. I don’t know. It’s one or the other. You never know with him.”

Make no mistake, however, Allen only had praise for Milano as a player.

“I don’t know what allows him to do it, but it was the least surprising Matt Milano play ever,” Allen said of the linebacker’s most recent interception. “If it was anybody else, it’s like, ‘Holy cow, what a play.’ And then you see it’s Milano and it’s, ‘Of course Milano does it.’ He’s just got this like silent assassin mentality, and it’s fun to watch.”

Milano, as he typically does, deflected credit for his interception Sunday.

“I was just doing my job. Bobby’s got us keyed in on our keys, and I was just right place, right time,” Milano said, referring to his position coach. “Bobby Babich. Best coach in the NFL.”


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