Editor's Note: Yet another excellent practice recap from our FanPost section. Thanks, DanRoc! - BG
After a busy first couple of weeks, I was finally able to head out to training camp and get a look at the Buffalo Bills' practice. I'm no professional reporter, but here's my observations from today's practice session.
The first organized thing I saw after I sat down was the special teams doing field goal practice. Rian Lindell and John Potter were switching off as the kicks moved further and further back. Lindell and Potter were matching each other kick for kick. It's really surprising how good Potter's accuracy is - I wasn't expecting that from the videos I saw. Eventually though, on the last and furthest kick, it look like Lindell got one up on Potter, as a defender knifed through enough to hurry Potter into a line drive kick that looked to be wide left. All in all though, I was impressed with our rookie kicker.
The same can't be said about rookie UDFA Shawn Powell, unfortunately, who was very inconsistent during punting drills. Brian Moorman was as impressive as ever, booming kicks with hang times of at least 4.5 seconds, with a few over 5 seconds long. Powell's leg strength was noticeably weaker, with only one kick traveling more than 60 yards in the air. I'm no punting coach, but it looked like Powell's problem was an inconsistent ball placement as his foot made contact. The ball spun differently each time, and it was clear when he was "on" and when he wasn't. Powell was a little better at kicking the ball directionally - his punts tended towards one coffin corner or the other. Moorman's punts usually headed for the 2 yard line, but in the center of the field. Powell also improved as he kicked more during the day, but it was clear that he is not where he needs to be if he's going to unseat Moorman.
Speaking of struggling rookies, Cordy Glenn, who spent today practicing with the one's, found himself getting a reality check from Mark Anderson. Anderson, starting for Chris Kelsay (who I didn't see out there at all today), thoroughly schooled Glenn on multiple occasions, using both his low bends to speed around the side, and switching it up with delayed bull rushes to push him into Fitz. Joining Anderson in the wake up call was Kyle Williams, who stunted out to face Glenn several times, getting serious pressure. Sam Young and Chris Hairston rotated in at first team RT, with Young and Zebrie Sanders getting rotated at second team RT. Neither Young nor Hairston had a good day against Mario Williams, who flushed Fitz out of the pocket for a few would-be sacks and got his hands up to bat a pass Kyle Williams, stunting the other direction this time, also beat Hairston easily in getting some major pressure on the pocket. Sanders also had a weak day, getting beaten multiple times by Kyle Moore, including being totally faked out by a counter move that left him falling on his butt and left Tyler Thigpen unprotected. The defensive line definitely looked in fine form, culminating in a forced fumble that Kelvin Sheppard returned for a "training camp touchdown".
Luckily, the offensive line had somebody helping them out. Though Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson were both on the sidelines today, CJ Spiller was in midseason form, lining up all over the field, catching passes and running touchdowns. He looked like a true first rounder and fine starter and was a big help for the offense. Johnny White and Tashard Choice also had their moments, looking very fast at times. Corey McIntyre was doing alright in practice, but got up slowly from a fall in one-on-ones and didn't play the rest of the day.
The linebacking corps was having some mixed performances today. Arthur Moats defended a pass, but was later beaten deep by CJ Spiller on a play action pass. Nigel Bradham didn't do a whole lot. Scott McKillop did have a pass defensed. All in all, I couldn't see very much from the linebackers today, although part of that had to do with where I was sitting - when the goalline drills started, it was out of my vision.
The defensive backs were decent, with the exception of Stephon Gilmore. You guys have been hearing this a lot, but this kid is the real deal. He was easily the most talented, most consistent corner we had playing today. In 1 on 1's he had tight coverage on Marcus Easley, slowing him down to force an incompletion. Gilmore later had a pick-6 on a tipped pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw an out route that Gilmore jumped. Gilmore later showed good judgement on a slip screen to Donald Jones, which kept Jones from breaking the play open and limited it to a 3 yard gain. He made no mistakes and was playing like a veteran - this looks like a great selection so far! Aaron Williams on the other hand, had a mixed night. He had a few plays where he slipped or misstepped while backpedaling and it allowed players like Scott Chandler to get an easy completion. He did have a tough hit on CJ Spiller though. Terrence McGee was back out running plays on the second team defense, but I didn't see any passes go his way. There weren't any other notable plays or players from the secondary that I saw tonight.
The receiving corps had an average day, with Stevie Johnson resting his minor injury. Derek Hagan was starting in his place, opposite Donald Jones, and made the most of the opportunity again. He was very physical in getting open and had many passes thrown his way. It wasn't all perfect though, as there was at least one play where he dropped a pass despite beating the corner cleanly. Marcus Easley was lined up as a second team outside receiver and I didn't see any passes thrown in his direction during the day. Ruvell Martin actually lined up with the first team today, as one of the slot receivers. Donald Jones played pretty well, with some good catches including a nice grab over the middle. TJ Graham had some good plays where he gained separation with his speed, and there were a few passes where he should have had a catch but the QB threw too deep.
Speaking of the QB's, it was another day of good and bad. Fitz was, for the most part, on the ball, but he still had several passes that were off the mark, like his pick-6. Tyler Thigpen was the second string QB, and actually had a pretty good day, with some on target passes. However, his throws are on the wobbly side which means he didn't do too well deep. Vince Young had some good touch on his deep passes, but he had a lousy attempt at a screen that went at the receiver's knees, and he didn't seem to be making very many good plays. Brad Smith was about as good as you'd expect someone who threw one pass last year to be. The most notable plays he had were one where he held onto the ball too long and got flushed from the pocket, and another where he threw at Marcus Easley into ridiculously tight coverage that led to Easley getting popped pretty hard and missing the pass.
So it was an encouraging day for some players, and discouraging for others, but overall, this team definitely seems more talented than the one I saw last year. Definitely impressed by the collection of players we've gathered. To sum the day up:
Marcus Easley (Because he didn't get much action)
Not practicing today:
Back to practice:
Injured during practice: