The Buffalo Bills returned to the training camp practice field at St. John Fisher on Wednesday following a day off, and in many respects the team picked up right where it left off: the defense dominated the offense. There were a few wrinkles - the first-team offense had an opportunity to play reserve defenders for the first time this summer, to a higher level of success than usual - but for the most part, the team seems to be settling into a groove.
These were the common story lines to emerge from the various practice recaps being posted by those that were on hand to watch practice today.
- QB story lines du jour: Matt Cassel was about the same (solid on short and intermediate throws, bad on longer stuff) - though, by some accounts, slightly better than usual. E.J. Manuel was about the same (a few excellent throws surrounded by maddeningly inaccurate ones, plus more ball security issues). Tyrod Taylor, you guessed it, was about the same (capable of a big play at any moment, but highly inconsistent most of the time). Taylor has been the recipient of most of the faint praise coming out of Fisher over the last couple of practices.
- RB depth chart thinning: Boobie Dixon will miss at least two weeks (perhaps even a month) with a calf injury. LeSean McCoy is nursing a sore toe. Right now, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, and rookie Karlos Williams are the only backs on the roster taking reps - and as a result, Brown is one of the more scrutinized players of the day. He's fumbled once so far in camp, and had a few bad plays, but has also turned in some very good ones.
- Praise for Goodwin: There has been a quiet trend developing amongst recaps early in camp that Chris Hogan is struggling thus far in camp (though he did score a touchdown on a busted coverage today), while a healthy Marquise Goodwin has made a far more favorable impression. That continued today, with Goodwin racing past Ron Brooks to haul in a 60-plus-yard touchdown from Taylor.
- Clay sighting: It almost seems tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic at this point, but reporters can finally lay the "Charles Clay hasn't been targeted in full-team work yet" story line, because he hauled in his first receptions of training camp on Wednesday.
- Kouandjio down: Cyrus Kouandjio left practice early on Wednesday with what Rex Ryan called a knee injury. While it does not sound serious, it could hurt Kouandjio in the right tackle competition, where Seantrel Henderson seems to have come on of late. Henderson took all of the first-team reps at right tackle on Wednesday, and continues to look good in the running game, by most accounts.
- Mario who?: He barely even registers on the list of Bills players named Mario, but cornerback Mario Butler continues to turn in a strong camp. He had already been singled out by Ryan earlier in camp for his strong play, and on Wednesday he hauled in his first interception of camp on a deep ball. Watch your butt, Ross Cockrell.
Those are just the commonly-discussed story lines, however; today's slate of recaps contains a lot of branching narratives about several players and positional groups on the roster.
Joe Buscaglia, WKBW
Buscaglia comes out spitting fire in discussing a slow start for Eric Wood, who is struggling with the likes of Corbin Bryant in one-on-one drills through three padded practices. He continues his line analysis by talking up the play of little-known William Campbell, a potential ninth offensive lineman for the 53-man roster (if they keep that many). His MVP for the day is a lineman, as well.
Jay Skurski, The Buffalo News
Subbing in for Vic Carucci, Skurski provides his own perspective on the quarterback battle. It falls in line with the rest: consistent and unimpressive for Cassel, mostly bad with glimpses of good from Manuel, and the big-play promise of Taylor are referenced.
Matthew Fairburn, Syracuse.com
This recap differentiates from Buscaglia's in the Wood department, as Fairburn attempts to assign some blame to Wood for botched snaps and false starts. He also talks up Taylor for a second straight day, points out that Sammy Watkins has been the team's primary red zone target (good!), and has nice things to say about undrafted rookie linebacker A.J. Tarpley.
Tyler Dunne, The Buffalo News
Dunne, a former beat reporter in Green Bay, likens Mario Williams to Julius Peppers athletically in his recap. He also goes over the expected roles for rookies Karlos Williams and Tony Steward, and the increased focus on Brown with some running backs banged up.
Sal Capaccio, WGR 550
Sal checks in with the most diversified set of notes available today; his thoughts on the quarterbacks echo the general sentiment, but he also has some interesting thoughts on the progress being made in the running game and lineup notes for the first-team defense and receivers working with the top offensive unit.
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