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Bills open training camp as expected: rusty

The Buffalo Bills opened 2009 training camp with two practices, some roster moves, and a few instant talking points. Head on in past the jump to get into the discussions - and if it's pictures of camp you're looking for, click that picture of QB Trent Edwards above for a full set of AP photos from today's practices.

Before the Bills even hit the practice field on Monday, they were short three players after waiving LB John DiGiorgio (failed physical) and placing receivers James Hardy and C.J. Hawthorne on the active PUP list.  Hardy and Hawthorne are eligible to return to the active roster at any point (and both are expected to be cleared to practice soon), but if DiGiorgio's Bills career is to continue, he'll have to clear waivers.  Either way, he won't be playing again until 2010 after undergoing a second procedure on his surgically repaired knee.

Once the Bills hit the field, the team performed just as you'd expect a team to perform after not playing football for six weeks - they were rusty and streaky.  This was particularly true at the quarterback position.

Our very own MattRichWarren was at both practices today, noting that starting QB Trent Edwards was "off" throughout the day, making some good throws but missing several receivers as well.  Backups Ryan Fitzpatrick, Gibran Hamdan and Matt Baker didn't fare much better, as all four tossed interceptions on the day.

There was some good news, however - Edwards and WR Terrell Owens appeared to have a bit of chemistry, as most of Edwards' throws to Owens were for productive gains.  (S Donte Whitner did intercept an Edwards pass intended for Owens, however.) The trend with training camp is that the offense usually starts out slow, particularly with a young quarterback and some new personnel.  Rust was expected; it's nowhere near time to panic yet.

Keeping track of the offensive line
We'll have this little section in each practice recap that we put together; today's "installment" will be rather boring, however, as two projected starters on Buffalo's line have yet to report to camp in rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy LevitreKirk Chambers filled in at left guard between Langston Walker and Geoff Hangartner; the line was completed by veteran Seth McKinney at right guard and Brad Butler at right tackle.  No surprises.

Four rookies still unsigned
Due to some logistical (i.e. travel) issues, rookie TE Shawn Nelson was not able to make the morning session, as he had not yet signed the contract that was finalized on Friday night.  He signed today and practiced this afternoon.  Buffalo's top four rookies - the aforementioned Wood and Levitre, as well as DE Aaron Maybin and S Jairus Byrd - remain unsigned.  Our very own krytime spoke briefly with Byrd today, who was "bummed" about not being on the field, and hopeful something would get done soon.  (Feel free to ask kry about his general impressions of Byrd in the comments section.)

Tracking positional battles
TE: Derek Schouman was the first to rotate through with the first team, but he and Derek Fine split reps pretty equally throughout the day.  Schouman has a slight edge at the moment, but there's a lot of camp left, and Fine is universally considered slightly more talented.

SLB: Keith Ellison ran with the ones, and that's not likely to change any time soon.  Nic Harris ran with the twos at SAM, with undrafted rookie free agent Ashlee Palmer running on the weak side.  Jon Corto was the third-team SAM linebacker, with Alvin Bowen weak on the same unit.  It's quickly turning into a two-horse battle between Ellison and Harris (as expected), but we don't think Ellison is going anywhere.  (Keep your eyes on Palmer, too - he had a good day, as did Buffalo's linebacker unit as a whole.)

Nickel CB: Reggie Corner ran through first.  Ashton Youboty ran through second.  Drayton Florence got most of his reps on the outside, but that's likely to change as he gets a firmer grasp on the defense.  Corner has a much better shot at holding onto this job than most give him credit for, but my money is still in Florence in the long run.

We've mentioned Hardy and Hawthorne; DE Ryan Denney got poked in the eye, but returned quickly, and DT Marcus Stroud tweaked a hamstring, eventually getting pulled from practice.  There's a good chance he'll be held out for a day or two just to make sure he's completely healthy.

Y'all can read highlights elsewhere, but honestly, don't put much stock in them.  It's nice to see some defenders making plays, particularly Paul Posluszny, Donte Whitner and Leodis McKelvin.  We're going to need those guys to deliver.  Right now, however, if you're looking for a little optimism, the team practiced with good energy and good pacing.  Steady improvement is the name of the game now.

Buffalo has two more practices tomorrow, which will bring their two-a-day sessions to an end.