Hardy, others miss practice time (Photo Source)
The Buffalo Bills completed their first full seven-day week of training camp last night with an evening practice at St. John Fisher College, and Buffalo's injury list continues to lengthen early in camp.
The injuries are not yet considered serious, but there are several players missing practice time. Rookie wide receiver James Hardy, who pulled a hamstring during warm-ups, joined fellow rookie wideout Steve Johnson as sideline spectators. LB Angelo Crowell missed his third straight night of practice, and S Ko Simpson was absent as well as he had his surgically repaired ankle tested (the MRIs were reportedly negative). Fellow starting safety Donte Whitner left practice early after getting sick on the field.
Despite the injuries (and the continued absence of a certain Pro Bowl left tackle), the Bills' offense put together one of its better practice sessions of camp last night, particularly in the red zone. Defensive ends Aaron Schobel and Shaun Nua were also absent.
Evans, Royal, Jackson Making Plays as Receivers
I'm hoping that headline isn't surprising to any of you in regards to Evans. It's great news to hear just how effective Evans was last night in the red area without the team's tall, shiny new receiver to take attention away from him. Evans burned both of Buffalo's starting corners, Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer, for scores last night.
The quarterback and receiver hooked up for a pair of touchdowns. Early in practice Edwards zipped a tight pass to Evans outside shoulder as he got just enough separation from Jabari Greer for a touchdown in the front corner of the end zone on the far sideline. Evans later got by Terrence McGee for another touchdown reception on the near sideline.
Fred Jackson was also a frequent target of Trent Edwards during this session, both down the field and out in the flats. What's encouraging to hear is that Robert Royal seems to be stepping up his play as he fights for his starting job with the unheralded Derek Schouman:
Robert Royal is factoring a bit more into the offense the last couple of practices. He caught a touchdown pass down the middle on a well-timed pass from J.P. Losman. He also pulled in a well-placed throw down the seam from Edwards.
Defense Making Plays in the Backfield
After two years of attempting to install a penetrating, Cover 2 defense with a disruptive defensive line, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell seems to have finally reached his goal. Buffalo's active front seven has made plays in the backfield early and often in camp, and continued the trend last night:
Kawika Mitchell came screaming into the backfield on one stretch play to the near sideline and would've had Lynch on a tackle for loss in live football conditions...
Among the other highlights during full team work was a blitz by Donte Whitner as he got to Edwards before he delivered a quick timing pass on a three step drop for a would-be sack...
Third-round pick Chris Ellis also had a would-be sack on Losman as he knifed inside and got into the offensive backfield quickly.
Ellis is still, in my opinion, the key to Buffalo having not just a very good defense this season, but a dominant one. If he can provide that spark as a situational pass rusher that the team hasn't had in years, Buffalo might just have one of the better defensive lines in football. It's good to hear that he's finally starting to make some plays in camp; we'll be watching his progress during pre-season games with great interest.
The Enigma that is Demetrius Bell
As the Bills continue to experiment with their depth at offensive tackle, one benefactor has been rookie seventh-round pick Demetrius Bell. One of the most athletic players on the team - yet also one of the most underdeveloped as a player - Bell has been taking strides as of late and was rewarded with some reps as the second-team left tackle last night.
Seventh-round pick Demetrius Bell has come along of late and was moved up to the second unit to get some left tackle snaps Thursday night. Matt Murphy flipped over to right tackle with the second group.
Murphy has impressed, too, with his footwork after making the transition to tackle from tight end. Depending on what happens with Jason Peters' holdout situation, it's not completely out of the question to believe that either Bell or Murphy (or both) could sneak ahead of Kirk Chambers on the depth chart. Again, that would probably only happen if Peters returns in time for the final cut-downs.
The Bills have one practice today (Friday), which runs from 2:15-4:20 PM.