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Notes from Night Practice, 8/17

By and large the story of tonight's practice was domination by the D.  Even with Merriman sitting out due to a minor leg injury the offense look stifled for most of the evening, with a potent d-line composed of Dareus, Kyle Williams and Alex Carrington moving everywhere on the field to record (tagged) sacks, bat down passes, and clog up running lanes.  Carrington was playing with the 1's due to an injury to Dwan Edwards and he took full advantage of the opportunity to impress.  The d-line coach had to be overjoyed with his unit.

The secondary contributed to the fun as well.  McGee had a stellar pass defense, knocking down a deep ball from Fitz to Stevie Johnson, followed on the next play by a Drayton Florence pick of a pass also from Fitz to Stevie. Another way of expressing the main story would be to say that Fitz looked rather shaky.  He did roll out to the left on one play and loft a terrific 25 yarder to Scott Chandler in the middle of the field, and there was a fabulous screen play to Spiller that went the distance, but primarily because of a great lead block by Eric Wood.  Other than that Fitz had few highlights, which meant in turn that no one in the first-string receiving corps looked very good, either.  Fitz just wasn't putting them where his guys could grab them. I may be entirely wrong about this, but I wonder if the reason why is a quiet QB competition that is developing between Fitz and Thigpen that may be getting to Fitz's head.  Watching the 7-on-7 endzone drill where the QB has to throw the ball hard into tight places I kept thinking that Thigpen was trying to outdo Fitz on every throw, and for the most part he did.  It may have simply been a case of Thigpen having a good night and Fitz having a bad one, but as I watched it through my trusty binocs I suspected that some one-upsmanship may have been going on. Fitz also had a very hard time with the garbage can drill, in which the QB's try to throw passes that land in a garbage can set at the far corner of the endzone from longer and longer distances.  The clear winner of the drill tonight was Levi Brown, who either put the ball directly into the can or hit the rim.  Thigpen was the next best, and Fitz couldn't come anywhere near it.  Maybe the drill doesn't matter much -- after all the QB's are not under any pressure when they make their throws -- but then again it is a routine part of practice for the QB's lasting twenty minutes, so it must have some value. Thigpen also looked better than Fitz in the 11-on-11 drills, at one point putting up a 50 yard bomb that Donald Jones brought in at the 5 yard line.  He had another bomb that landed on Easley's fingertips, but Easley dropped it.  Thigpen also had two nifty passes to Na'aman Roosevelt, including one that was a bit over his head that Na'aman caught securely anyway.  It happened that Buddy Nix was standing on the field right at the spot of the reception and I could see him smiling broadly.  I think Na'aman is making this team, period. The brightest moments for the offense, however, came when Brad Smith was on the field running the wildcat.  Those plays always gained good yardage, whether Smith ran or passed (he had one 25 yarder to Scott Chandler that was a delight to behold).  It's hard to say why, but the wildcat seems to have a magic effect whenever Smith comes on to run it.  As good as our D is, they can't seem to handle it. As for Fitz, he may have had an off-night that means nothing, but if he is off this coming Saturday at Denver my observation about a possible background competition with Thigpen starting to get to Fitz might be worth dusting off.  Let's hope that's not it. A few additional random oberservations:      -Dareus is very hard to neutralize, but the one o-lineman who managed to do it was Eric Pears blocking laterally and pushing on Dareus from his side.  It may not be textbook, but it worked a couple of times.       - Training my super-high-powered binocs on Andy Levitre, I discovered him sweating like an open spigot.  You can't imagine the volume of water that came pouring out of his helmet play after play.   No other Bills player had any comparable sweat on what was basically a rather cool (though humid) night, leading me to wonder if Levitre reported to camp in the best of physical shape.  Or perhaps he just perspires like a geyser.       -Shawn Merriman was not dressed, but he hardly wasted the practice.  Rather he sent over an hour working with his position coach on his hand technique.  I kept looking over assuming they were about to stop, but they went on and on.  That, I suspect, is a big part of Merriman's secret -- he is a perfectionist who takes advantage of every opportunity to learn more.     -The drill in which the d-lineman bash a tackling dummy after doing some fancy footwork is a favorite of mine, but tonight I broke out in laughter as I witnessed Michael Jasper smashing the dummy to kingdom come.    When Jasper goes after that dummy, the dummy really feels it.      -Donald Jones is listed at 6' 1", but at one point he was standing next to Roscoe Parrish and looked just a tad taller.  Jones also missed or dropped a ton of passes tonight.  He's no Lee Evans -- at least not yet.      -There was a lot of action on the field tonight, with players getting fewer chances than normal to hang out with their buddies, so I have less to report in that category, except to note that Dareus, Jasper and Spencer Johnson seem to have a real bond, while David Nelson, C. J. Spiller and Fitz spent a lot of time together (when Fitz was not off chatting with Chan).




Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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