It's Training Camp Eve, Bills fans. My Bills socks are hung above the fire place, anxiously awaiting some tasty nuggets from practice reports tomorrow. Speaking of tasty nuggets, I left out milk and cookies for Losman Claus, but they've since been consumed - call it a "case of the Langston Walkers". OK, I'm done with the corny Christmas Eve parallels, I swear.
Since tomorrow's initial practices are all I can think about, I figured it was prudent to throw out a list of players that I plan on keeping two eyes and a brain on during the duration of camp and the pre-season. I tried to pare the list down to just five guys, but alas, I threw in a tie to keep it sort of fair. So below, take a gander at the six guys I'll be keenly interested in over the next month; feel free to add to or subtract from this list in the comments section.
#1 - QB J.P. Losman (7)
This was the obvious one - I'm pretty sure every single Bills fan will be chomping at the bit to hear how Losman looks in individual drills and team work tomorrow. He received glowing reports during the spring months; now it's time to see how he starts to lead this young group of guys tomorrow. I'll be keeping an eye on his performance in practice, obviously, but it's also going to be interesting to see how he handles the media - he's the go-to interview now, which speaks volumes to his importance on this team. Lead on, J.P.
#2a - DT John McCargo (97)
Coming off of a serious foot injury last season, McCargo has received the OK from team doctors and will be practicing full-tilt from the first snap of tomorrow's opening practice. That's great news for a defense that desperately needs some production out of the '06 first-round pick. He'll probably be a bit rusty physically; I'll be checking to see if he's up to snuff mentally. That physical stuff will come fast, and just in time for the regular season. Now's the time to get the brainy aspect of this defense down, Big John.
#2b - MLB Paul Posluszny (51)
It was absolutely great to hear that Poz got signed today in time to not miss any practices - if there's any potential starter on this team who needs practice reps, it's Paul Posluszny. I'm going to try not to compare him to John DiGiorgio from any reports we hear, but it'd be nice to hear that Paul is making a few plays in pass defense. I'm also anxious to hear (but more anxious to witness on August 14) the core strength of Poz and how it pertains to shedding blockers; it's his edge in this department over other Bills linebackers that could make him a run-stuffing force.
#3 - RB Marshawn Lynch (23)
Negotiations are reportedly still ongoing, but it seems likely that Lynch will join Darwin Walker as the only two Bills to miss tomorrow's initial practice. While this looks to be a situation that will resolve itself quickly enough to minimize Marshawn's missed practices, the situation bears watching; even after he's signed, the player bears watching as well. I'm looking to see his route-running, his patience as a runner (key to success as a rookie) and how he interacts with teammates. Should be fun to watch.
#4 - CB Ashton Youboty (26)
For a full year now he's been hyped as the "eventual" replacement for Nate Clements; with 22 out of the way, it has to be a blow to his psyche a bit to see Kiwaukee Thomas re-signed and Jason Webster inserted into the starting lineup directly off the trash heap. I'll be looking for confident play out of Youboty, as well as any playmaking flair whatsoever. I expect him to make mistakes (he has only played 3 NFL games, after all), but if he can stay in the competition to start for more than just a week or two, we're likely to see a lot of this kid in '07. And he needs that - experience.
#5 - RT Langston Walker (68)
I'm not worried about Jason Peters, Derrick Dockery or Melvin Fowler. Heck, I'm not even worried about the battle at right guard, because we already know that's the biggest question mark on our newly-crafted offensive line. No, I'm interested in Walker - particularly, his movement. I want to see how he holds up in one-on-one blocking drills against Aaron Schobel. I want to see where the majority of the pressure on Losman comes from in team drills; I really want to see how much Robert Royal is left in blocking on passing plays. Run blocking isn't a concern, it's fluidity and pass protection, and it'll be important to keep an eye on Walker in those departments.