The big story heading into tonight was the premiere of first-round draft choice C.J. Spiller, fresh off of signing his five-year, $25 million deal. When he took the field, there was mild applause, but nothing close to a hero's welcome. On the day, he had a few short runs, showing his shiftiness, and returned a couple punts, but didn't do anything truly noteworthy.
His offensive teammates were greatly improved over the last couple of days, as they made some big plays in the pass-heavy practice. Receivers are still having a hard time getting open, and many of the checkdowns by Bills quarterbacks have been out of necessity, but they did have some nice gains as practice wore on.
Lee Evans drew single coverage twice, and both times Trent Edwards found him for a big play. The first was a 25-yard flag pattern against a zone defense. The route was perfect, as was Trent's throw, which allowed Lee to turn up the sidelines for a nice gain. The second was the highlight of camp so far, as Trent found Lee running free for a 65-yard touchdown bomb. The play action fake was so good that pulling Andy Levitre had no one to block in front of Edwards as he let the ball go. A few plays later, Ryan Fitzpatrick found Felton Huggins on a fly pattern, beating Leodis McKelvin for another big gain. James Hardy would have had one as well, having beaten his man on the previous play, but the defender bumped him as he was pulling away and was called for illegal contact by the NFL officials in attendance. Also during full team work, Joique Bell took a run 60 yards to pay dirt.
The defense did have some highlights as well. Donte Whitner jumped a curl route and picked off Edwards, taking it 25 yards to the house. Whitner had his second pick of the night as time ran out on the first team offense's two minute drill. Antonio Coleman bull rushed Kirk Chambers into the backfield so far that Brian Brohm had to throw a pass away in the two minute drill. And finally, Brohm ended practice when Bryan Scott jumped a route and picked him off.
There was also some big news on the injury front, as Eric Wood, Chris Kelsay and Cordaro Howard all returned to the practice field, while Demetrius Bell took first team reps for the vast majority of practice. On the negative, Roscoe Parrish limped off visibly frustrated and walking with a slight limp. Wood did not participate in 11-on-11 work, and Bell was pulled halfway through the final session of the night favoring his leg.
Other items of note from my partner in crime, Brian Galliford, were McKelvin continuing his punt catching problems by putting another on the turf through his arms tonight, Dwan Edwards impressing with his quickness, and Whitner looking "fantastic."
Tomorrow, the Bills will practice from 3:00-5:30 at St. John Fisher, but the great news is we are now less than a week away from Buffalo strapping it up to play the Washington Redskins next Friday. Also, don't forget tomorrow is the Buffalo Rumblings gathering at Champps. Be there after practice to meet the venerable Brian Galliford.