The Buffalo Bills held their annual Blue-White scrimmage at St. John Fisher Saturday, and by all reports, things seemed to go rather smoothly. The offense was crisp, the defense made some strides, and John Wawrow took the role of most negative tweeter, going after IPAs (in poor taste, I must say) and man-buns in one of the stranger “storylines” of the night. The more pressing issues, of course, took place on the field, and some of the talking points are listed below.
- QBs sharp overall: Mike Rodak provided a detailed look at the quarterbacks’ performances last night, which can be found beneath his opening discussion of another positive from the night (more on that below). Combined, the Bills’ signal callers were 16 of 25 for 227 yards, 2 TDs and a pick. Tyrod Taylor was 8 for 11 for 89 of those yards, with a beautiful 36 yard TD pass to Robert Woods (check the fancy footwork on that catch, too!). EJ Manuel threw the other TD, a 41 yarder to Marquise Goodwin; he also threw an interception that popped out of Nick O’Leary’s hands. Cardale Jones was exciting (52-yard bomb! 28 yards worth of scrambles!), but inconsistent (bad red zone misses and eschewing slides for head-first dives).
- Goodwin’s big day: All of the reports raved about Flash (3 catches, 61 yards), saying he showed solid route running and that trademark speed that keeps fans wishing he could just stay healthy enough to continue contributing. Joe Buscaglia called him the night’s clear winner at the number 3 wideout position, which also included solid nights from Greg Little (2 catches, 31 yards) and Jarrett Boykin (2 catches, 61 yards). Dez Lewis and Leonard Hankerson were not targeted in the scrimmage.
- A-Will back in the swing: Rodak’s lead piece on Aaron Williams’s strong night will surely be a welcome sight for all Bills fans. Williams was aggressive and showed no ill effects after big collisions with both Mike Gillislee and James Wilder, Jr. A post-scrimmage interview gives a glimpse into the safety’s thoughts on the night, which he referred to as a “huge step” in his rehab process.
- Solid running game: With LeSean McCoy only carrying once for 3 yards, Karlos Williams out, and Reggie Bush serving solely as the team’s designated fair catch specialist on punts, three of the four men carrying the load performed admirably. Jonathan Williams led the way with 22 yards on 3 carries, and he was complimented nicely by Mike Gillislee (4 carries for 21 yards). James Wilder, Jr. carried 3 times for 11 yards. If there is a negative, it seems that the running game was big-play reliant. Williams gained 19 on one carry, Gillislee gained 17, and Wilder gained 9. Boom Herron was not impressive, as he ran twice for 2 yards and lost a fumble.
- Tight End group unimpressive: Running without the top two men on the depth chart (Jim Dray injured his ankle yesterday and Charles Clay was held out for an unspecified reason), the tight ends did little to help distinguish themselves. Both Chris Gragg and Nick O’Leary had costly drops (Gragg’s on a 3rd and 4 that caused a punt, and O’Leary’s leading to an interception), and Blake Annen caught 1 pass for 9 yards. All three need to show much more to earn time behind what is a pretty clear one-two combination.
- Zach Brown the Remedy for Ragland’s absence: Roles can change overnight in the NFL, and luckily, Brown was ready to jump right in, replacing Reggie Ragland with the ones for the entire scrimmage. Chris Brown’s practice recap includes a quote from Brown where he says he will continue to compete even when Ragland returns — and hopefully we’ll learn that date on Monday. Eric Striker also played in the middle, as did Bryson Albright. Overall, the defense had some good moments, with Corey Graham coming down with an INT and Corbin Bryant, Striker, and Robert Blanton registering sacks.
- Another day, another injury: Cordy Glenn went down with an ankle injury after a fourth down play. He walked off and “did not appear to be in any major pain,” according to Mark Ludwiczak. Glenn did not return to practice. Chris Martin, not Cyrus Kouandjio, filled in with the first team in his absence.
Lastly, on the contract front, Tyrod Taylor’s agent was spotted talking with Jim Overdorf during the scrimmage. Unless they were debating where the best wings in the city are, one can assume that this is a positive step towards signing Taylor to an extension, as the smoke indicates that a fire might be near.