Day one of practice for the 2017 Buffalo Bills is in the books, and most reports indicate that it had a much different feel than the practices in training camp for the last two seasons. Head Coach Sean McDermott ran an up-tempo session in his first official practice as an NFL head coach where players were running from station to station.
If you weren’t able to keep up with practice, or want to recap what happen, here’s a quick rundown of some of the more popular talking points from tonight’s practice session.
Sammy is back
In the brief portion of practice available via live stream, one major thing stood out to me: Sammy Watkins looked sharp. His cuts were crisp, his burst was there, and he was able to plant, cut, and dig into the turf with no problem. I know we were only able to see him run against air; however, it was encouraging to see him look that fluid after missing so much time over the past two seasons due to a fracture in his foot. He said that he’s done talking about the foot injury because his foot is completely fine. Regarding his contract, he spoke about how he needs to earn it, sounding as if he was not offended by the team’s decision to decline his fifth-year option on his rookie deal. He said football is “a business” when asked if he has any animosity towards the Bills.
Tyrod taking the reins
Tyrod Taylor looked good, by most accounts, in terms of his arm strength, his accuracy, and his leadership. Nate Geary noted that Taylor threw the ball with much more velocity than backups T.J. Yates and Nathan Peterman; he also said that Taylor was fairly accurate on the day. When the offense ran a few consecutive plays and looked tremendously out of sync, Taylor huddled the group up before running another play. To have those kind of expectations of excellence on day one is a very positive thing, and I hope that it translates into greater success throughout the season.
Pace of practice greatly increased
Compared to Rex Ryan’s practices in training camp, many reporters notes the pacing of practice under McDermott. Even in the live stream, it was obvious that players were asked to complete their reps in a hurry and with a purpose. The emphasis on doing as much as possible in the time frame allotted was nice to see.
Minor injury notes
Andre Holmes went down hard trying to haul in a deep pass; he returned to practice... Seantrel Henderson left practice for an undisclosed reason, but he returned ten minutes later...Jerel Worthy left after making a tackle; he was seen pointing at his stomach. No word as to what the issue was, though there was speculation that he was ill.
Deep ball discussions
By most accounts, Taylor put a beautiful deep pass right on the money to Andre Holmes that he dropped. It was Holmes’s second drop of the night, according to Mark Ludwiczak. Matthew Fairburn was the only one to note that Holmes dove to try to make the catch, as Geary, Ludwiczak, Del Reid, and our own Grif noted that the pass was a good one. Fairburn also pointed out a beauty from Peterman, who “dropped a dime” on Rod Streater from way out in the team portion of practice. Earlier, Geary had noted Peterman’s lack of arm strength and timing to be problematic, as it led to his being intercepted by Charles James.
Camp battles abound
There were some interesting rotations at certain positions, especially along the offensive line. The first five out, from left to right, were Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, and Jordan Mills. In other words, there wasn’t much surprise there. Seantrel Henderson subbed in on the left side for Cordy Glenn, and the other lineman to receive first-team snaps was Vladimir Ducasse at right guard. There was no mention of Dion Dawkins coming in for Jordan Mills with the first team; Dawkins instead rolled with the twos. At tight end, undrafted rookie free agent Jason Croom subbed in with the starting unit, as well.
The first receiver group included Sammy Watkins and Andre Holmes, the latter of whom did not have a banner day. Depending on whose tweets you read, the second group either included Zay Jones and Corey “Philly” Brown (per Mike Rodak), or Jones and Brandon Tate (per Sal Capaccio). Capaccio also had Brown and Jeremy Butler, who I’m definitely going to call Jerry at some point this summer, as the fifth and sixth receivers.
At linebacker, Ramon Humber opened with the starters at the WILL linebacker spot, with Preston Brown running as the starting middle linebacker. Reggie Ragland ran almost exclusively with the second unit as its middle linebacker. I saw no other linebackers named on any twitter feeds, but maybe some of our eyes at camp can fill in some blanks about the others.
Adolphus Washington spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for improper handling of a firearm. He told the media that he thought about the possibility of losing his job after the incident. He has since entered a not guilty plea, and his attorney has stated that he believes the charges should be dismissed. Brandon Beane, Buffalo’s new general manager, and McDermott said that the incident was “disappointing” in their pre-practice press conference.