The Buffalo Bills have a home preseason game against the Carolina Panthers this Friday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and most assume it will serve as the next major tipping point in several ongoing positional battles across the roster. During Monday's practice, the first since Saturday night's full-team scrimmage, however, a few things seemed to be clearer in those battles. There was also a surprisingly strong day throwing the ball from, arguably, the Bills' least exciting starting quarterback candidate.
Here is today's recap recap, in which we consolidate all of the day's practice reports into one cohesive list of talking points.
- Cassel plays well: Things did not, by all accounts, go well for EJ Manuel on Monday. Tyrod Taylor ranged between so-so and solid, depending on who you're reading. But by all accounts, it was Matt Cassel that paced the Bills' quarterback group, tossing three touchdowns in a highly efficient day. One of those touchdowns: a lengthy bomb to Sammy Watkins against the first-team defense. Perhaps of more significance than the quality of his play, however, are the multiple accounts that Cassel took the majority of the first-team snaps. Is that just because he's starting against Carolina?
- A bump for Karlos: The Bills are still taking it a bit easy on LeSean McCoy, and today, they gave some of his first-team reps not to Bryce Brown, but to rookie Karlos Williams, who continues to impress observers on a near-daily basis. We can safely write his name in pen on the final 53-man roster, provided he stays healthy through the preseason.
- Henderson pulling away: After an iffy spring workout season and an early-training camp demotion, Seantrel Henderson has quickly re-asserted himself as the favorite to win the starting right tackle job. Cyrus Kouandjio has not factored into the first-team rotation nearly as much as he did early in camp (and prior to missing a day due to injury), while Henderson has drawn some praise for his work in the practice setting.
- A major injury scare: Kyle Williams left practice early with a limp after fellow lineman Marcell Dareus threw Karlos Williams into his leg. Kyle did not return to practice, but it appears he'll be alright; he's been diagnosed with a quad contusion, and is only expected to miss a few days. He may not play against Carolina on Friday, but otherwise, this isn't a big deal.
- Woods vs. Gilmore: The first bona fide fight of camp broke out on Monday, with Robert Woods and Stephon Gilmore directly involved. A block was sustained a bit too long, Woods lost his helmet, and then the receiver threw several punches at the Bills' top cornerback, per multiple reports. Ryan did not sound overly pleased with the development after practice.
Matthew Fairburn, Syracuse.com
Fairburn is impressed with the dominance of Mario Williams and Watkins (and Corbin Bryant, too), and notes that after being stymied for over a week, Jerry Hughes finally snuck past Cordy Glenn for a sack in team work.
Joe Buscaglia, WKBW
Buscaglia takes things a step further than some, saying that Cassel won the day "by a large margin," before launching into many of the same observations that Fairburn made - about Mario and Bryant, specifically. He also has some thoughts on the backup tight end race.
Sal Capaccio, WGR 550
Capaccio notes that Woods continues to be the team's primary punt returner with Leodis McKelvin injured, plus has good things to say about the two-minute offense, Charles Clay, the power elements of Greg Roman's offense, and the continued presence of the 46 defense.
The Buffalo News
After a few days away at the Hall of Fame, Vic Carucci is back in town and tracking the quarterback race. Carucci also has a separate article which includes Ryan's thoughts on the recently-signed contract extension for Nickell Robey. Ty Dunne also weighs in with a post of his own, in which he runs through why it's self-evident that Henderson has leapfrogged Kouandjio, Manuel's struggles taking snaps this summer, and Ryan's ardent defense of Gilmore.
Chris Brown, BuffaloBills.com
If you learn nothing else from this recap, at the very least, you should stop by to feast your eyes on what is easily the best photograph to be snapped at camp this year. It's magnificent.
Mike Rodak, ESPN
Linked above is Rodak's review of the quarterbacks, which falls in line with the theme of the day. He also put out articles on Henderson pulling away in the right tackle competition, and the Williams-Brown dynamic at running back, covering what we already discussed above.