KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Donald Jones #19 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter on September 11, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Bills beat the Chiefs 41-7.(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
The big news coming out of the final week of Buffalo Bills OTAs is that wide receiver Stevie Johnson - who had previously been ruled out of spring practices by head coach Chan Gailey - appears set to return to the practice field soon to get some limited work in with Ryan Fitzpatrick before the last summer hiatus prior to training camp. That's a good thing, clearly.
Another intriguing tidbit emerged at receiver today, as well: in the midst of a coach-speak answer regarding the brewing competition for a prominent receiving role, Gailey singled out Donald Jones as the early leader.
"We’ll know exactly where we stand, and it all works itself out, by the time we get to the first ball game," Gailey said of the competition. "We’ve got two or three guys that have done a great job. Donald Jones is probably a little bit ahead of everybody at this point."
The idea that Jones is ahead of the likes of Derek Hagan, Marcus Easley and rookie T.J. Graham at this point in time is not surprising. He's the most tenured player of the quartet in terms of experience in Gailey's offense, and has the most amount of time working with Fitzpatrick. It's intriguing nonetheless that Gailey felt compelled to publicly state that there's an early leader at this point in the off-season. Don't read too deeply into this; just store this in the back of your mind for when training camp rolls around.
It's also interesting that Gailey said that there have been "two or three guys" that have performed well. Assuming Jones is one of them (a pretty safe assumption), it's possible that Gailey has not been overly impressed with one or more of the other trio of receivers in play. Then again, it's simply possible that Gailey miscounted in quickly recalling who he's been impressed with at one position while answering a question. Still, if you ask us - and many of you have - Jones seems to be the clear front-runner for a starting job at this point.
We also know that one or more of these guys will soon be getting less work with Fitzpatrick and the ones as Johnson returns to the lineup. Time will tell which player that is (or it may be all of them); for now, Jones seems a likely bet to stick with the ones.