Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has had his fair share of shaky moments through the first week of his inaugural NFL training camp experience, but Sunday may have been his shakiest single practice today.
Filling in as the first-team quarterback for Kevin Kolb - who did not practice with a knee injury, but may return for tomorrow night's scrimmage - Manuel struggled this afternoon, throwing at least three interceptions and missing a handful of open targets. John Wawrow of the Associated Press published a few tweets chronicling the struggles which you can re-live in our open thread for the session, but he wasn't alone in reporting the off day for No. 3.
Ups and downs are to be expected for any rookie quarterback, and we should keep in mind that Manuel's worst day came a full seven practices into camp - and also on a day when Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that the team is continuing to show him more complicated defensive looks as camp progresses. He'll have plenty of opportunities for a rebound performance tomorrow night, even with Kolb potentially back in the lineup.
The more noteworthy item than Manuel struggling: the fact that, with Kolb sidelined for two full practices, Manuel did not exactly take command of the battle for the starting quarterback job. With Kolb returning to the lineup quickly, that position remains very much wide open.
Mario, Kyle make more progress
For the first time in training camp this year, pass rusher Mario Williams took part in full-team drills for the Bills. After participating in individual drills for a second straight day, Williams was on the field for the first two 11-on-11 reps with the first-team defense. His full-team work remains limited, of course, but after a big deal was made of his mysterious left foot injury early in camp, he looks well on his way to being full go in the very near future.
Kyle Williams, meanwhile, took another step forward, participating in 1-on-1 drills against offensive linemen for the first time in camp, according to WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia. The team has held him back as he continues to recover from off-season foot surgery, but he's been impressive thus far in camp, and has progressed to the point where he may no longer officially be a worry for fans when it comes to regular season action.
In addition to the aforementioned Kolb, wide receivers Stevie Johnson (hamstring) and Kevin Elliott (shoulder) missed practice, as did tight end Mike Caussin (hip), cornerback Justin Rogers (hamstring) and rookie safety Duke Williams, who is apparently being treated for concussion symptoms. Williams left practice early on Saturday, but spoke on the radio with WGR 550's Sal Capaccio after practice, so he can't be too bad off.
Kicking battle a tough read
The long-held assumption that rookie Dustin Hopkins would unseat veteran Rian Lindell for the team's kicking duties remains true, but in windy conditions at St. John Fisher today, a situation unfolded in Lindell's clear favor. While Lindell connected on 10-of-13 field goal tries (typically struggling to hit longer distances, as usual), Hopkins was all over the place, hitting just 5-of-11 kicks, per Buscaglia. Hopkins has a much stronger leg and obviously offers the Bills the most long-term upside, but Lindell is also clearly the more consistent of the two at this point. This race may end up being closer than first assumed.
More as we see it.