LB Crowell returns to practice (Photo Source)
After nine days of practices, the Buffalo Bills had Sunday off and returned to the practice field yesterday afternoon for their eleventh day of training camp. While OT Jason Peters continued his holdout, the Bills did get some good news in the form of veteran LB Angelo Crowell returning to the field of play. Crowell missed the majority of last week's practices with a left knee injury.
Joining Crowell on the field were newly signed LB Donnie Spragan as well as UDFA rookie WR C.J. Hawthorne, a Hawaii product that the Bills added yesterday. Hawthorne takes the roster spot of one Jason Peters, and was signed to reduce the number of reps that Buffalo's depleted receiving corps was taking.
Strong safety Donte Whitner missed practice with an ankle injury that required an MRI, but the injury is not considered serious. WR Josh Reed was also held out of practice Monday as the team looked to reduce his work load and rest his surgically repaired lower back; he's not expected to miss much action either. DE Copeland Bryan (hamstring) and CB Will James (groin) also missed practice Monday. WR James Hardy (hamstring) participated on a limited basis in individual drills.
Parrish Stepping Up in Reed's Absence
Not surprisingly, Roscoe Parrish - the other veteran wideout on the team not named Lee Evans - saw an increased workload with Reed on the sidelines. Buffalo's diminutive return star was making some plays in the receiving game, always a nice thing to hear; he was also, however, showing that he can be physical despite his small frame:
After taking a hard hit from Jabari Greer on a short out route to the sideline that left him on the ground for a minute, Parrish came back with some of his own hitting as he cracked Ashton Youboty on a run play.
Donte Whitner shouted from the sidelines, "I see that Roscoe. You want to hit like that?"
To which Parrish responded, "I'll hit like that all day!"
Parrish isn't the only one with the bug; thing seem to have become a bit more physical as the team gears up for its first pre-season game of the year, this coming Saturday in Washington. Justin Jenkins also received some first-team reps at wideout in Reed's absence.
Cornerback Competition Update
With Will James sidelined with his groin injury, we've gotten a pretty good look at exactly how Buffalo's depth chart currently shakes out at cornerback. James - currently the first team nickel back on the depth chart - has been replaced at that position by rookie fourth-round pick Reggie Corner (with Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer holding down the starting slots, as usual). Ashton Youboty and Leodis McKelvin have manned the outside slots for the second unit. McKelvin has been taking reps at the nickel spot for both units as well.
Clearly, the Bills are mixing and matching their personnel inside for now to see which players fit best at which positions. What may be most surprising, however, is the fact that Reggie Corner's role seems to be solidified, while McKelvin's has not. It seems, for now, that the Bills are working on ways to get their first-round pick onto the field, because at this point, it seems pretty obvious that he won't start right away.
Who's Making Plays
Crowell looked good in his return to the lineup, making several plays in the passing game. Parrish routinely beat defenders running routes, and has proven to be quite as difficult to cover as Lee Evans has in man coverage. CB Jabari Greer blocked a field goal yesterday. Buffalo Rumblings' second-favorite linebacker, Jon Banks, tipped a pass that was intercepted by safety Jon Corto.
You have to love hearing this, as well. Looking forward to big things from #23 this year.
Marshawn Lynch ran under a reception deep down the far sideline for a big gain.
The Bills will hit the practice field for another night practice today, which runs from 7PM until just after 9. We'll discuss the developments from tonight's practice tomorrow morning.