Today, Buffalo Bills players are enjoying their second day off from training camp practices and meetings since they reported for duty on July 27. It's a good day to reflect on the first eight public practices of the 2013 season, and to take stock of which players have impressed thus far in camp, as well as a handful that have left a bit (or more) to be desired. Let's dive right in...
Stock up: Alex Carrington
We'd be happy to tell you all about how Carrington has looked superb running with the first-team defense, but head coach Doug Marrone did it better than we could have after last night's scrimmage.
"He’s had an outstanding camp. He really has," Marrone said Monday evening. "The one thing that you have to work on during camp is pad level quite a bit. We talked to the coaches about that. But I think Alex Carrington has had the best pad level throughout the camp on both sides of the ball. And I think he’s playing extremely well for us right now."
Stock down: Cordy Glenn
Buffalo's franchise left tackle had a so-so conclusion to his rookie season, and doesn't appear to have made much of a leap (if any) entering his second pro season. Pass rushers are beating Glenn in practice, and he's been flagged for penalties a few times. On one occasion during Monday night's scrimmage, he was late trotting onto the field after a punt, then gave up a sack on the very next play. Glenn is not even remotely the most pressing concern for this football team - not even along the offensive line, for that matter - but it'd be nice to see an improved level of play from him.
Stock up: EJ Manuel
True, he has struggled for two straight practices taking all of the first-team reps (Kevin Kolb is out of the lineup). Sure, that casts doubt on, mostly, how quickly he'll be able to slide into the starting lineup and fulfill the "future is now" wishes of a playoff-starved fan base. Several strong practices early in camp indicate, however, that Manuel is making quick strides with technique; the physical part of the game won't be an issue. How quickly he can get up to speed and play consistently are the big questions, and knowing what we know about how he approaches the preparation aspect of the game, there's plenty of reason for optimism - even the giddy variety. Immediate expectations, however, could stand to be tempered.
Stock down: Jairus Byrd
First-team safeties Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy have made a smattering of plays and avoided being liabilities for the first-team defense, but neither has been a standout. Still, there is not a desperate need for the Bills to have Byrd in the lineup - and as time passes and he continues to stay away from team activities, he'll only further alienate a select (read: large) chunk of the fan base. When he returns he'll likely get up to speed quickly, but for now, he's falling ever further behind.
Stock up: Marquise Goodwin
5'9" wide receivers are typically pigeon-holed into very specific roles within an offense, but Goodwin has proven himself capable of much more in camp. The Olympic athlete can play the ball in the air, out-jump much taller defensive backs and has the vertical speed to demand respect playing on the perimeter of the field. He's rough around the edges and may not be completely ready to contribute immediately, but Goodwin is a football player through and through - and a potentially dynamic one at that.
Stock down: Alan Branch
While Carrington and others have impressed along the defensive line, Branch - a free agent signee from Seattle this spring - has been something of an also-ran. We even thought that Torell Troup was more impactful than Branch during the scrimmage, and if the oft-injured fourth-year player is making more plays in the camp setting, it makes you wonder how big a role Branch will have in the defensive line rotation this season.
Stock up: Jamie Blatnick
The Bills released Mark Anderson just prior to training camp, so we already had a pretty good idea that Jerry Hughes, Blatnick and other pass rushers were making positive impressions with the coaching staff. Kourtnei Brown has received just about as much positive press at this point, but it was Blatnick that was the most impressive player on the field during last night's scrimmage. If he keeps this up, the edge rusher could compete for a sub-package pass rushing role in 2013.
Stock down: Crezdon Butler
Cornerback depth is a huge issue for this team, and Butler - a former Pittsburgh mid-round pick that the team was high on when he came out of Clemson in 2010, and remained high on through this off-season - is chief among the group of young corners not stepping up. He's made more waves for two camp fights than for his play, and has fallen down to second- and third-team work - even when the team was handing reps to young players while Leodis McKelvin was getting up to speed. Once thought of as a candidate to be the team's top backup corner, Butler may not even make the team at this point.
Stock up: Jay Ross
While Carrington is stealing all the ink on the defensive line, the little-known Ross has had an impressive camp, as well. He took a lot of first-team reps while Marcell Dareus recovered from a viral sickness, and has remained in the first-team rotation ever since. He looks quick off the ball and strong at the point of attack, has clearly leap-frogged the aforementioned Branch on the depth chart, and stands a good chance of staying there.
Stock down: Zebrie Sanders
Fans carried high hopes for last year's fifth-round pick, even as he recovered from surgeries on both hips and a missed rookie season. Even as Chris Hairston has missed practices with his own health issues, Sanders has failed to make an impression, instead establishing himself as a mainstay third-team left tackle. He's behind Thomas Welch on the depth chart at this point, and right now looks like a long-shot to make the 53-man roster.
That's our take. Who has and/or hasn't impressed you, Bills fans?