The Buffalo Bills strapped on the pads for the first time on Monday in their fifth training camp practice of the summer at St. John Fisher College. The day was highlighted by rookie guard Andy Levitre, who after signing his rookie contract on Sunday practiced with his new teammates at training camp for the first time.
Our designated training camp reporter, MattRichWarren, wasn't present at camp today. That doesn't mean that we can't glean some juicy talking points from other sources. Matt will be returning to Fisher for tomorrow's practice - the first night practice of the evening - so we'll be covering camp live tomorrow evening. In the meantime, head on in for today's (briefer) recap, and make sure you check out David Selby's photos from day two and day three.
Keeping track of the O-Line
We wondered openly yesterday how quickly Levitre would be thrown into the fire with the first unit offensive line. BuffaloBills.com answers that, as Chris Brown reports that Levitre took roughly half of the first-team reps at left guard despite being two days behind his teammates in preparations. (Kirk Chambers took the rest of the reps.)
The rest of the line remains the same - until first-round OG Eric Wood gets into camp, that is. Levitre is clearly going to be given every opportunity to win the starting job at left guard, however. We've been hearing from several fans that attended camp that Chambers wasn't particularly impressive over the weekend. It seems a virtual certainty at this point that if Levitre merely improves incrementally in the pre-season, the job is his.
Quote of the Day
This one comes courtesy BuffaloBills.com, quoting rookie TE Shawn Nelson.
"I’m pretty excited," said Nelson after practice. "This is my first day in pads going against competition on the professional level. Everybody is coming hard trying to look good and I did a great job. I’m not new to competition so I just want to come out and work hard and let those guys know I’m going to come out and bust a** just like everybody else."
I like this guy.
Hot and Not
There's a lot of good going down at camp right now - legitimately good, not fluffy good. As we didn't have a delegate at camp today, we're working on hearsay; with three days of practices complete, here's who we're hearing are hot and who... well, they need a little more work.
HOT: QB Trent Edwards. He was rusty on Saturday morning, but over the past four practices Edwards has done a lot of good things, including several long completions - most of them to WR Terrell Owens. We're not putting Owens on this list, as that would be pretty obvious; suffice it to say that Edwards-to-Owens has been the most dominant force at camp thus far.
NOT: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is unfortunate on several levels, but Buffalo's new backup quarterback has struggled mightily adapting to the Bills' new offense. He's getting incrementally better - we suppose that's a good thing - but the notion of having to rely on him during the regular season is still a highly uncomfortable one. (It's also unfortunate that Fitzpatrick is struggling, as it in part is leading to much of the Michael Vick speculation you'll hear about until he finds a new team.)
HOT: DT Kyle Williams. We recently called him Buffalo's most underrated and under-appreciated defender. When the pads went on on Monday, Williams showed us why, as he was the most dominant run defender on the field. Entering his fourth season as a starter for this team (seriously, can you believe that?), Williams could be on the verge of making a bigger name for himself. This guy can play.
NOT: FB Corey McIntyre. As the only fullback on the roster, McIntyre needs to be a bit worried - his special teams value has diminished after this off-season's wedge-related rule changes, and the fullback has all but been phased out of the offensive attack as the team leans more toward a three-wide, no-huddle approach. (Who would you rather have on the field - McIntyre or Josh Reed?) There are tight ends on this roster that can line up in the backfield on occasion. McIntyre's time in Buffalo may be running short, and he hasn't done much to distinguish himself at camp.
HOT: CB Ashton Youboty. Is anyone truly surprised that Youboty has been Buffalo's most consistent defensive back in the early stages of camp? He's not as flashy as some of his teammates, but he's consistently making plays on the ball, and he's perhaps the best tackler of the group. He appears to be fully healed from the plantar fasciitis that sidelined him last season. He had a pass break-up today that thwarted a potential touchdown throw; Youboty turns in plays like this every day. Reggie Corner is still taking first-team nickel reps, but Youboty is hot on his tail.
NOT: CB Leodis McKelvin. Leo hasn't been bad. He's gotten torched by T.O., but let's face it - T.O. has done that to a lot of defensive backs in his day. McKelvin, despite giving up big plays to Edwards and his top two receivers, has shown a nice burst to the ball, as evidenced by his pick-six in the first practice of camp. Inconsistency is McKelvin's big issue right now. He's going to start, but there's a reason that Drayton Florence is seeing most of his reps on the outside - he's an insurance policy.
DT Marcus Stroud is still out nursing his hamstring injury; again, that injury is not considered serious. WR Steve Johnson joined Stroud on the sidelines with reported rib cartilege damage; Dick Jauron ruled him out indefinitely, and Brown guessed that Johnson could miss two to three weeks of practice. If that's true, he might not be healthy enough to play in the team's pre-season opener. DE Copeland Bryan is also dealing with a hamstring injury; no word yet on how much practice time he could miss.