The Buffalo Bills wrapped up their 2009 rookie mini-camp yesterday. Chris Brown at BuffaloBills.com has daily wrap-ups of the practice sessions here, here and here. As with any rookie mini-camp, nothing truly substantial came out of it - but there are certainly some interesting discussion points.
Wood at RG, Levitre at LG, both get snaps at center
As expected, first-round pick OG Eric Wood spent the vast majority of his time this weekend playing right guard - though he also was worked in at center as well. Wood is a virtual lock to start at right guard this season, though the Bills are clearly getting him reps at other positions in the event that their full plans along the line don't come to fruition.
Second-round pick OG Andy Levitre also stands a great chance of starting immediately, and he spent most of his time playing left guard. Like Wood, Levitre got some snaps at center, a position he never manned at Oregon State outside of the practice setting.
With these two developments in hand, Buffalo's anticipated re-tooled offensive line will include Levitre at LG and Wood at RG with Langston Walker at LT, Geoff Hangartner at C and Brad Butler at RT.
Maybin asserting himself quickly
DE Aaron Maybin didn't have much competition at defensive end this weekend, but that doesn't mean he wasn't asserting himself as a leader over the weekend:
Bills top pick Aaron Maybin took it upon himself to break the huddle each day of practice and did so again at the close of the camp Sunday encouraging his fellow players to "go get it" if they want it badly enough. But by no means is Maybin looking to rule the roost when he returns in a couple of weeks for voluntary OTAs.
"As a young guy coming in, I’m only 21 years old," said Maybin. "I’m not arrogant enough to think that I’m going to come in and run everything inside out in this entire program. All I want to be able to do is come in and work as hard as I can, be able to get on the field and use my skill set to help this team in any way possible."
Maybin lined up at left defensive end for the majority of the weekend, an indication that he might be seeing a lot of time playing opposite of right end Aaron Schobel this coming season.
Late-rounders fitting in, making plays
Buffalo's three late-round picks - LB Nic Harris, CB Cary Harris and CB Ellis Lankster - raised a few eyebrows, but all three players acquitted themselves nicely over the weekend.
Defensively fifth-round pick
Nic Harrishad a pass breakup on a play that was going to tight end Travis McCall. Harris shadowed the tight end well in coverage and got his hand in the passing lane to prevent the completion.
"I’m just trying to make plays," said Harris. "Right now just being an athletic guy, being brought down to the linebacker position. I played a little bit at OU, not necessarily linebacker, but covering receivers and stuff like that. Kind of with the scheme right now it’s an every down linebacker. It’s new, but I’m learning on the curve."
Cary Harris, Lankster:
Cary Harrishad a pass defensed in the flat to force an incompletion.
Defensively, seventh-round pick
Ellis Lanksterhas settled in pretty well in terms of coverage assignments in the 7-on-7 setting, which is a good sign knowing he’s coming from a West Virginia defense that wasn’t anything like Buffalo’s.
"It’s totally different because we had different disguises or different coverages that we’d play," said Lankster. "But I feel I can adapt to it. I feel like I’m fitting in real nicely. I’m learning the defense real fast so I feel like I’m doing a good job."
Fourth-round TE Nelson shines
The one rookie generating more buzz than any other over the weekend was athletic fourth-round TE Shawn Nelson, who drew rave reviews with his hands and speed (though he did reportedly struggle some with false starts in the mid-to-late portions of the three-day camp).
Shawn Nelson was solid in his first day particularly in the receiving game. Blessed with natural hands, Nelson made some difficult catches look effortless and rarely broke stride even when some passes were outside his body frame.
"There are some things that I can do that some tight ends in the NFL can do and there are some things that I can’t do and that’s what I try to work on," said Nelson. "The things I can’t do as well or can’t do at all is what I work on to be a complete tight end."
Plenty of tryout players to be signed?
Buffalo brought in 30 players to camp on a tryout basis over the weekend, and so impressed was the Bills' coaching staff with the group that Chris Brown saw fit to share this nugget:
In fact of the 30 tryout players brought in for the weekend, Jauron believes anywhere from five to 10 players could be signed.
“Sometimes when you have a group tryout it can deteriorate pretty fast and this was really good,” said Jauron. “I think there are some guys in this tryout group that we’ll try to bring back, at least for our OTAs and maybe for training camp.”
That would certainly be intriguing, particularly since the Bills already have a pretty full roster. Might we see some significant changes by the team's May 18 voluntary OTA sessions?