Throughout the first five practices of 2015 Buffalo Bills training camp, the struggles of the team's starting quarterback candidates superseded all other rhetoric about the team. This was a completely foreseeable and understandable circumstance, but it's also something that can wear one down after a while.
Which is why Thursday's top story line from the sixth camp practice of the year was a breath of fresh air for, well, everyone who pays daily attention to these matters.
- Improved QB play: Buffalo's three quarterbacks were universally praised on Thursday, turning in their best single-day performance as a collective group by far to this point in camp. Rex Ryan seemed to go out of his way to talk up Tyrod Taylor most fervently, but E.J. Manuel also had easily his best day of camp, and Matt Cassel was improved, as well. More of this, please, gentlemen.
- Watkins nicked up: Sammy Watkins was rendered a bit sore after pulling up on a deep-ball attempt with Ron Brooks in coverage. Reporters noticed him limping a bit, and the Bills held him out of the rest of practice as a precaution. This doesn't sound serious, but we may not see much of Watkins over the next few days with live hitting starting up.
- McCoy, Kouandjio return: Two prominent figures on offense returned to the practice field following injuries. LeSean McCoy was back working with the first-team offense after a couple of rest days for his sore toe, and quickly started doing LeSean McCoy things to Buffalo's reserve defenders. Cyrus Kouandjio, meanwhile, hustled back into the huddle despite a tweaked knee; he is eager not to lose ground in his race against Seantrel Henderson for the starting right tackle job. (Henderson still took most of the first-team reps on Thursday.)
- A wrinkle at safety: When the Bills started to incorporate three-safety looks into their defensive repertoire on Thursday, the absence of Duke Williams stuck out like a sore thumb. Williams has not seen much play with the first-team defense so far in camp, and that continued yesterday with Jonathan Meeks joining starters Aaron Williams and Corey Graham on the field for three-safety looks. His seeming fall down the depth chart is most definitely something to monitor moving forward.
What else caught reporters' eyes on Thursday? Let's take a look...
Joe Buscaglia, WKBW
Consider Buscaglia in line with Ryan on the Taylor front; he called the day in favor of No. 5, as well. This recap also has encouraging words on slot corner Nickell Robey and middle linebacker Preston Brown, plus some observations on Kyle Williams and Percy Harvin trying out new positions.
Sal Capaccio, WGR 550
Capaccio notes that, according to Ryan, Taylor was "spectacular" during the zone-read portions of practice. Also noted here: McCoy's increasing presence as a receiver, Dezmin Lewis working with the first-team offense, the continued improvement of the running game, and more.
Matthew Fairburn, Syracuse.com
Fairburn kept statistics on the quarterbacks, in case you care about those sorts of things. He also took notes on the offensive line rotation, with the most noteworthy item there being Cyril Richardson seeing time at tackle. He also mentions some inconsistencies coming from Stephon Gilmore, runs through the linebacker depth chart, and takes note of strong play from reserve wideout Justin Brown.
Mike Rodak, ESPN
Rodak appears to favor splitting his recaps up into many smaller posts; this one touches on the quarterback play, featuring quotes from Ryan. He doesn't add much to the conversation from Thursday, to be quite frank.
Jay Skurski, The Buffalo News
Skurski's practice report is, essentially, a giant injury rundown, with quotes from Ryan to explain where several dinged-up players stand a week into camp. The names mentioned here: Leodis McKelvin (Ryan praises Ronald Darby, working in his stead), McCoy, and Kouandjio.
|FRI 7/31||10-12 (AM)||Live, Recap|
|SAT 8/1||10-12 (AM)||Live, Recap|
|SUN 8/2||10-12 (AM)||Live, Recap|
|MON 8/3||6-8 (PM)||Info||Live, Recap|
|WED 8/5||10-12 (AM)||Live, Recap|
|THU 8/6||10-12 (AM)||Live|
|FRI 8/7||10-12 (AM)|
|SAT 8/8||7-8:30 (PM)||Info|
|MON 8/10||10-12 (AM)|
|TUE 8/11||10-12 (AM)|
|WED 8/12||6-8 (PM)||Info|
|SUN 8/16||10-12 (AM)|
|MON 8/17||10-12 (AM)||Info|
|TUE 8/18||6-8 (PM)||Info|
|SAT 8/22||10-12 (AM)|
|SUN 8/23||6-8 (PM)||Info|
|TUE 8/25||10-12 (AM)|