The Bills held yet another night practice last evening at St. John Fisher college, and the practice saw a resurgence for the offense. It's always nice to see one of our units rebound after a poor performance (or two), but it will be interesting if the unit can keep up that level of performance on a consistent basis. There's also an interesting announcement coming out of this morning's practice; here's what's important:
Bills Getting Healthier
Slowly, as injuries continue to nag Bills players, those afflicted are healing up. Quickly, in some instances. John McCargo, who tweaked his lower leg on Tuesday, has a good chance of playing tomorrow night against the Falcons. RB Josh Scobey and OG Aaron Merz will miss their second straight games, and S Trevor Hooper will join them along with OG Brad Butler, who also missed last week's game. The good news on Butler is that he was spotted doing a few individual reps Wednesday night, so he could be close to returning to practice next week.
Two veterans - LB Angelo Crowell and C Melvin Fowler - are dinged up as well, and are likely to be considered game-time decisions tomorrow night. Coy Wire and Duke Preston would start in their respective places; my guess is that these guys are healthy enough that if this were the regular season, they'd be suiting up. Crowell has some minor swelling on his left knee while Fowler is dealing with a minor ankle injury (much like McCargo).
The Coaching Staff Loves Sam Aiken
Wideout Sam Aiken has never been much of an offensive threat for this team, but you can tell that it doesn't much matter to the Bills' coaching staff. Check out this quote from Dick Jauron:
"As a receiver he's just gotten better and better," said Jauron. "He does make plays. He's bigger than most receivers and very tough. He's a very physical guy, so there's definitely a place for any player who plays the game like he does. For Sam Aiken on this team he's key."
Think this guy's not going to make the final roster? Think again. I still doubt whether Aiken sees much playing time in an offense that's not short of depth, but he's got a roster spot locked down. I'd go as far to say that right now, Aiken is the clear front-runner to be the team's special teams captain, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him used in some goal line and short yardage work as a blocker/big target during the regular season.
J.P. to Lee Back on Track
This was perhaps the most encouraging thing I read in various reports from the last two practices:
Losman and Evans looked very much in sync for the first time in a few practices as the pair worked the sidelines a lot. During their two-minute drill series Evans made two catches at the end of the drive. One he made in the flat and successfully got out bounds to stop the clock and on the next play he got outside the coverage to make a reception near the sideline.
When I visited camp on Tuesday, Losman-to-Evans was very out of sync. Losman's throws were off, and Evans just did not look as crisp as we've grown accustomed to. We all know that when this duo is on they're one of the deadliest combinations in the league; it's great to know that they're starting to bring it back together a little bit.
Starters to Get More PT
Head Coach Dick Jauron confirmed this afternoon that Marshawn Lynch will likely start the Falcons game at running back.
I'm not reading too much into this, because it's pretty apparent that the coaching staff will initially split carries between Lynch and Anthony Thomas. The A-Train is a vet, however, so it's easy to sub in Lynch to get him some much-needed reps prior to the start of his career. I'm very excited to see how he performs against an underrated Falcons defensive unit.
The rest of the offensive starters will likely see a quarter's worth of action, with the three top units likely to see the most action of the pre-season in next week's tilt with the Titans. Get them as many reps as you can, I say - these units, especially the offense and defense, need to develop as much chemistry as possible heading into the regular season. This is especially true if we wish to start quick against a very, very tough schedule.