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Buffalo Bills training camp battles taking shape

We look at the pecking order after the first day of practice

During any NFL training camp, fans look to see who will serve in what role for their favorite team. We discussed the major training camp battles for the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, and we were able to catch a glimpse of how the coaching staff views those battles during the first training camp practice.

QB 2—Nathan Peterman vs. T.J. Yates

Most of use have assumed that Yates will be the backup to incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor, but little was tweeted about Yates during yesterday’s practice. From the comment section on our practice recap, community member Jhalli described Yates as “a tire fire,” which is never the endorsement one wants to receive when he’s the primary backup to the most important position in the sport. Peterman, for his part, took some chances and showed good touch, although his lack of arm strength was evident. Matthew Fairburn described him as “fun to watch,” so this battle could be a little more interesting than many had assumed.

Wide Receiver rotation

Sammy Watkins was the clear top dog, with Andre Holmes receiving the majority of the starting reps as the second receiver. When the Bills went three-wide, Zay Jones worked the slot with the starting group (thanks to Grif for noting it in the comments). Jones, Brandon Tate, Jeremy Butler, and Corey Brown were mentioned as taking part in second- and third-team reps by Mike Rodak and Sal Capaccio, although they each had a different combination for the second and third teams (Rodak had Jones/Brown as team two, while Sal had Jones/Tate second with Brown/Butler third). Rod Streater must have worked in with the third team, as he was on the receiving end of Peterman’s best throw of the night.

While Holmes seemed to be the nominal number two, he did not have a great night, dropping two balls, one of which was a great deep throw from Taylor. Little was said about the other receivers, which is probably a good thing. With everyone’s attention on Sammy Watkins and whether or not he’s healthy (he is), it’s a good sign that most of the others were able to fly under the radar. It will be interesting to see if Holmes remains the second receiver, or if rookie Zay Jones is given an opportunity after Holmes’s struggles last night.

Backup tight end

While most expected Logan Thomas to be the top name after Charles Clay and Nick O’Leary, a surprise name worked in with the starting unit yesterday—Jason Croom, the undrafted rookie free agent from Tennessee. Whether or not he has leapfrogged Thomas is yet to be seen, but it was a pretty intriguing development nonetheless.

O-line shuffles

We had assumed that Jordan Mills would be competing for his job at right tackle with Dion Dawkins, and they did rotate in and out for each other with the first team. Instead, Cordy Glenn was replaced by Seantrel Henderson on the left side at times (though that may have been more precautionary in managing Glenn’s reps as he works his way back from an ankle injury), and John Miller found himself watching Vlad Ducasse at times at right guard. No mention was made of either Eric Wood or Richie Incognito, so I assume that the coaching staff views Ryan Groy as the backup center and not the starter.

MLB—Preston Brown vs. Reggie Ragland

The lead dog after the first night was Brown, as he ran with the ones and Ragland led the twos. Brown was in on 99% of Buffalo’s defensive snaps last season, so it’s not terribly surprising that he was out there; however, his name has been floated as a possible surprise cut, so beginning with the starting unit signals his probable stronghold on a roster spot.

We’ll be on the lookout for more information regarding these battles and more when practice starts Friday at 2:15. If you’re attending, please don’t hesitate to put your eyewitness accounts in the comment section of the open thread—it helps all of us football junkies who can’t make the trek out to practice paint a clearer mental picture of what’s happening.