The Buffalo Bills convened as a full team for the first time in the 2014 NFL calendar year on Wednesday for the first Organized Team Activity of the season. You'll be reading a lot of notes and quotes from the opening session for the rest of the afternoon, but here is the most pertinent information to mull over as a starting point.
Two veterans absent
This is not unusual behavior for either player; as newly-signed free agents last spring working in Mike Pettine's defense for the first time, Branch and Lawson both missed voluntary workouts. The duo shared a reason for missing these workouts a year ago: both were at home welcoming newborn children into the world. It's not clear why they are not in town this time around - they're learning a new defense for the second straight offseason, this time working under Jim Schwartz - but again, these workouts are voluntary.
Several players rehabbing
We are specifically not going to cover which players lined up with which units, and not just because it's far too early to begin that dance: several key Bills were held out of certain portions of the workouts because they're still rehabbing from offseason surgical procedures. The list is long, but all of these players are expected to be fully healthy by the time training camp begins in about nine weeks:
- WR Robert Woods (ankle)
- WR T.J. Graham (hip)
- WR Marcus Easley (knee)
- TE Scott Chandler (knee)
- DE Mario Williams (hip)
- DE Jerry Hughes (undisclosed)
- LB Kiko Alonso (hip)
- CB Stephon Gilmore (hip)
- CB Leodis McKelvin (hip)
- S Aaron Williams (shoulder)
Apparently, hip surgeries were the popular offseason activity for dinged up Bills players this offseason. Alonso's, by the way, was reportedly a labrum repair that occurred way back in January.
Two players were injured in the first practice of the year: running back Ronnie Wingo and cornerback Ron Brooks. The severity of the injuries to these reserve players is not yet known.
One player returning to the lineup, finally: fourth-year tackle Chris Hairston, who missed the entirety of the 2013 season with an undisclosed medical issue. In fact, he also missed most of the team's OTA work last spring coming off of a late-2012 ankle injury that landed him on IR, so this was still one of the first practices that Hairston has had under Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett. That's kind of crazy to think about.
Here are a few random tweets from reporters on hand to round up today's first practice. (This is the part where we'll include the "who worked with what unit" stuff, in case you actually care about those tidbits at this point.)
Ramses Barden wearing number 13 at Bills OTAs. Weird.— Mark Ludwiczak (@MarkLud12) May 28, 2014
Cyril Richardson opening up as 2nd team right guard behind Urbik. Pears was 1st team RT, but Kouandjio got a couple reps with the 1s #Bills— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) May 28, 2014
Seantrel Henderson is the third team left tackle. #Bills— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) May 28, 2014
Nigel Bradham stepped in for Alonso. Brooks and Graham for McKelvin/Robey. Williams/Searcy first S combo— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 28, 2014
Sammy Watkins will be excused from OTAs later this week for the NFL's rookie premiere— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 28, 2014
Bills DT Kyle Williams on trading 2015 first-round pick to get Watkins: "I might be dead in 2015. I only care about what's in front of me."— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) May 28, 2014
EJ Manuel said besides watching each of his games twice from last year he's watched video of ARodgers, CKaepernick, RWilson and DBrees— Mark Gaughan (@gggaughan) May 28, 2014
Sammy Watkins signs rookie deal w Bills. "It's definitely a blessing. ... I've got to move forward and perform now."— Mark Gaughan (@gggaughan) May 28, 2014