This morning was the final day of 2009 Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. I was in attendance today - as I was for a dozen practices this year - as the moving vans arrived and the team headed back to Orchard Park for the remainder of the pre-season. Due to the copious amounts of rain yesterday, my phone was not operational for Twitter updates this morning, so I am going to change up and give you a timeline of the typical practice after the jump with my notes from today.
I arrived early thanks to a friend who attends SJF. She gave me her parking pass and I rolled into the parking lot instead of taking the blasted shuttles. That was pretty sweet.
9:30 - 9:40 Special Teams - Punt Team
Bobby April led the punt team through some work on blocking, then on getting off their blocks; meanwhile, the gunners worked at the other end of the field. As has been a continuous trend, Ryan Neill got all first team work with Garrison Sanborn squarely behind him. Working at gunner (in no particular order) were Justin Jenkins, Reggie Corner, Ashton Youboty, Felton Huggins, Jairus Byrd, Shaine Smith, Lydell Sargeant, John Wendling, and Ko Simpson. Easily the most vocal player during this work was Marcus Stroud, standing on the sideline.
9:40 - 9:49 Walk Through vs. Scout Teams
The first team offense was without Terrell Owens again today; Owens has been officially ruled out of Saturday's pre-season contest in Green Bay. Josh Reed took his reps on the outside. Bryan Scott continued to practice following his injury and alternated moving up in the box with Donte Whitner during the exercise.
9:49 - 9:55 Warm up and Stretch
Easily the most boring thing to watch in practice, it's also the best to see who is participating. QB Matt Baker was stretching, but didn't throw a pass all day, instead standing and watching in a ball cap. WR James Hardy joined Owens in the training room, and defensive tackles Corey Mace and Marcus Smith watched from the sidelines. TE Shawn Nelson was late arriving on the field, but eventually joined the team during team work. Everyone else was participating fully.
9:55 - 10:11 Position Work
At this point in the practice, the team broke up into their position groups: DL, LB, DB, OL, TE, WR, RB, QB and ST (kickers, punters and long snappers). Without pads on, the OL and DL were working on footwork and hand techniques on opposite ends of the field. The RB and QB groups started together working on hand-offs before the RB group went to work on footwork and cuts. LBs were working on gap assignments, and DBs were focusing on backpedaling and ball skills. TEs were focusing on blocking and when to move off onto the blitzing linebacker. The WRs were catching passes after breaking off routes, but the most interesting part was that a coach was smacking them with a pad when the ball was in the air. Essentially the guys had to keep their focus even though they were being hit as the ball arrived. Then the WRs and QBs got together and worked on pass routes before the TEs and RBs were mixed in as well.
10:11 - 10:19 7on 7, OL vs. DL
While the offensive and defensive linemen did some one on one work, the first team offense and defense worked in the passing shell. It was around this time that people were figuring out that T.O. was just not going to show up. Many were sad. It would have been nice for him to at least come out and wave or something. Skill players with the first team offense were Lee Evans, Derek Fine, Josh Reed (in for Owens) and Shawn Nelson in the slot. He moved in tight on a couple plays as well before Roscoe Parrish replaced him. Roscoe and Nelson's reps were split pretty evenly as the "third WR" option. Good to see the big guy getting some first team reps. As an aside, it's pretty clear that Derek Schouman and Derek Fine are 1A and 1B and will rotate with Nelson. We officially have a three-headed monster at TE.
Trent Edwards was hitting guys in stride today and not one throw hit the ground during position work or 7 on 7. He was working the ball down the field, hitting Evans and Reed for gains on 15-20 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick also looked good, completing good passes before throwing a 30+ yard bomb to Justin Jenkins. It was a gorgeous arching pass right over the top of the defender. Even Gibran Hamdan got in on the act, threading the ball between two defenders for a 25-yard pickup to C.J. Hawthorne.
10:19 - 10:31 Special Teams - Kick Return
Bobby April had the front six on one side of the field and his back five on the other. The starters for the front line were George WIlson, Jon Corto, John Wendling, Marcus Buggs and Justin Jenkins (L to R facing the kicker), with Shawn Nelson about ten yards behind Wendling. They were working on picking up their guys based on what the kick team does. The wedge (April used the term) portion was Leodis McKelvin returning with Xavier Omon five yards in front of him, and Spencer Johnson five yards in front of Omon. The Dereks were about five yards further up splitting the field in thirds. When the ball was kicked deep, the Dereks stood about three yards apart and Johnson came between them about two yards back. They also worked on short kicks and getting communication down so they know who is going to catch it.
10:32 - 10:38 11 on 11
The first full-team work of the day again highlighted the offense as they continued to practice without pads. James Hardy made his way onto the field prior to the team work, walking out and talking with teammates. Bryan Scott had a simulated stop in the backfield on a Roscoe reverse, the second of those I witnessed today. Jairus Byrd had a nice pass breakup on a Gibran Hamdan throw working with the third team. Answering some questions, the second team center was Brandon Rodd and Seth McKinney, running second team guard, slid over to the pivot with the third team. Watching more position battles, Chris Ellis is clearly getting more reps than Copeland Bryan, who ran third team today. Ellis has been seeing second team reps while Aaron Maybin continues his holdout.
10:38 - 10:54 Walk Through vs. Coaches
A staple of the end of practice is a walk through against a team of coaches simulating a defense. It's not interesting to watch, but the fans were getting anxious and began chanting. At one point between plays, Eric Wood and Langston Walker raised their arms in the air exhorting the chants to continue and get louder. The first team offense was working against the coaches, but on the other side of the field, it was the second and third team defense getting the reps against the ghost team.
10:54 - 10:58 Stretching and Team Huddle
10:59 Position Meetings and Break
DB, OL, LB, and TE met with their position coaches briefly while the rest of the team made their way towards the locker room for the final time this year. After practice, Fitzpatrick signed autographs and Walker and Butler threw their gloves into the stands.
Best Development of the Day
Only one Trent Edwards pass hit the ground all day. It was a yard overthrown to Lee Evans on the sideline about 18 yards off the line of scrimmage.
Worst Development of the Day
The moving vans were moving stuff from the sidelines and locker room during the entire practice. I still have at least one camp story to tell and you should see that later this week, but for now, the only time we'll see the Bills is when they play the Packers this weekend.