The Buffalo Bills have officially been on the practice fields at St. John Fisher College for a full week's worth of training camp sessions. In general, the defense has been much better and more consistent than the offense (not surprising), the offense is running better than it's passing (not surprising), and the team looks like it's a long, long way away from contending (not surprising).
Still, it's not all bad - though there's certainly bad to talk about, as well. We've got three studs and three duds - all players, as they're what matters most in the NFL - from the first week of Bills training camp.
NT Torell Troup: The rookie out of Central Florida has been unblockable in one-on-one drills, consistently beating blockers with brute strength unrivaled by anyone else on this roster. In team work, he has shown the capability to shed blockers repeatedly, and consistently controls blockers and generates great push. He's surprisingly technically sound, and is a real throwback-type, as he's the only player on the field without any tape or gloves on his hands. I'm still not sure Troup's ceiling is very high, but he appears to be close to it already, and could get a lot more rookie playing time than originally anticipated.
SS Donte Whitner: The former No. 8 overall pick was almost an afterthought entering camp, what with all the hype surrounding fellow safeties Jairus Byrd and George Wilson. Whitner has looked excellent, however; he's moving faster than every defender on the field, looks great on the blitz from his strong safety position, and has never been a liability in coverage at safety. Many thought Wilson would claim his starting spot, but judging from the way Whitner is acclimating to the new defensive scheme, that seems unlikely for the time being.
WR Chad Jackson: Bills head coach Chan Gailey was very up front in heaping praise on the former second-round pick of New England, and Jackson has begun his march up the depth chart as a result - he got some first-team reps Wednesday in spread formation looks as the fourth receiver, ahead of names like James Hardy, Felton Huggins and David Nelson. Steve Johnson still appears to have a stranglehold on the No. 2 receiving spot (and Roscoe Parrish likewise in the slot), but no receiver has made a bigger impression to this point than Jackson. He's looked every bit of the phenomenal athlete that made him a second-round pick in the first place.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: Exactly zero of Buffalo's quarterbacks has been impressive through the first week of camp, but Fitzpatrick has been a special case of terrible. No QB has tossed more interceptions to date, his accuracy is as erratic as ever, and I've heard whispers that of all quarterbacks on the roster, he's been most frustrated by how the "pecking order" has taken shape. (Those are obviously unconfirmed, and no bad blood exists between the four guys, so don't get your panties in a bunch; disregard entirely if you're not a fan of rumors.) He was always a long-shot to emerge from the pre-season as the starter, but he's already put himself in an early hole in that regard.
CB Leodis McKelvin: ESPN's Tim Graham called McKelvin out on his blog for showing lapses in concentration on the practice field. He's been aggressive at times, but complacent at others, and has been burned a few times on deep routes. He's also being given an excellent opportunity to win the punt returning job, but is quite literally fumbling that chance away, muffing punts as frequently as Fitzpatrick skips passes. I said all off-season that McKelvin would have a hard time earning his starting cornerback job back, and if he continues to play the way he has this past week, he'll likely be relegated to nickel duty to start the season.
OT Jamon Meredith: With an entire set of spring practices under his belt as the starting left tackle, many thought Meredith would be able to hold off incumbent Demetrius Bell for the starting job on the blind side. Bell is still working his way back into full playing shape, meaning that while Bell still looks to be penciled in as the starter, Meredith is still seeing a lot of work with the first team at left tackle. He's not taking advantage, struggling mightily with good speed rushes on the edge, and finding difficulty dealing with the power of Buffalo's underrated five-technique defensive ends. Meredith has looked OK run blocking, but at the moment, he projects most comfortably as the team's swing tackle behind Bell and Cornell Green.