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Bills Training Camp: Spotlight On The Wide Receivers

Some of the optimism and fan support made a resurgence at Buffalo Bills training camp this afternoon. From 3:15 until 5:00 when practice ended, the crowd cheered great plays and groaned on close calls. It was the first time this year I noticed that the crowd was truly into what was going on down on the field.

At today's practice I wanted to focus in on the wide receivers. I hadn't seen them play very much, and wanted to get a sense of how each was performing. During positional drills, the wideouts worked on quick slants. Roscoe Parrish let one get through his hands, and David Nelson made a nice adjustment to get back to the ball on a throw that was behind him.

The next route to work on was a hard curl. The coaches set up three orange discs, and that was where the wide receivers had to stop and come back to the ball. Several had excellent footwork, while others looked like they were running in cement. Once again, Nelson made a crisp cut. Lee Evans also was very good at stopping on a dime and coming back towards the ball. James Hardy had one go through his hands and off his shoulders pads. Chad Jackson slipped and fell over. In practice, the coach didn't throw it, but in the game that could be a pick-six very easily.

Marcus Easley was catching passes but noticeably limping. Steve Johnson had his left knee wrapped, but it wasn't affecting his routes and he wasn't limping.

Perhaps the biggest difference from the Dick Jauron offense was the heavy use of motion. Today, the receivers spent a lot of time on running routes out of motion. For instance, in goal line work they began wide, motioned in, and then ran a quick slant across the goal line. Another was a motion inside to a flag pattern, where Trent Edwards hit Nelson on a 20-yard strike against air.

As the team moved to the passing shell, where the DBs and WRs go head-to-head with a QB throwing the ball, you could start to see who was good against air and who was good, period. Evans always seemed to have a step on his defender. Jackson slipped and went down for the second time in practice, but soon ran a great out pattern and had a phenomenal shoestring grab.

In other red zone work, Parrish caught a pair of touchdowns, Shawn Nelson shielded the defender using his big body to grab a score, and Naaman Roosevelt had a touchdown on a nice high throw from Brian Brohm

As for the quarterbacks, Edwards is still looking the best. Brian Brohm was floating some red zone posts, and Fitzpatrick was inconsistent. Levi Brown also received his first extended action in preparation for Friday's preseason tilt, when he ran a two-minute drill. He completed five passes and scrambled for 15 yards. The last completion was a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jackson, who caught the bad throw one-handed as he crossed the goal line to end practice.

A few other notes from practice include John McCargo making his presence felt on several tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a QB would-be-sack, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch doing their best pitcher impressions on the side during special teams work, and C.J. Spiller split out wide from time to time. (By the way, that guy has quick feet.)

Updating the injury situation, Hardy ended practice on the sideline, getting his foot/ankle looked at by trainers, though it did not seem serious. Paul Posluszny and Keith Ellison participated in some team work, but not 11-on-11. Corey McIntyre, Marcus Stroud, Demetrius Bell, Eric Wood, and John Destin all participated as well. Cornell Green, Jon Corto, Spencer Johnson, Andre Ramsey, Easley, Derek Schouman, Ed Wang and Danny Batten all missed practice.

The Bills take the field again in the morning for a closed practice and in the evening for a practice under the lights at 7:15PM. You will need a ticket for the night practice, but if you don't have one, show up anyways. The ushers always have a few extras. I will not be in attendance, so someone's got to keep us in the loop.