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Bills camp, 8/3: Return men, linebackers, and injuries dominate discussion

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Some big names sat out of practice today, while a new face entered the return man competition

When the Buffalo Bills signed running back Taiwan Jones yesterday, the assumption was that the depth behind LeSean McCoy and Jonathan Williams must have been concerning to the coaching staff. Today, we saw a different reason for the signing, as Jones worked his way into the competition for the primary gig at kick returner. The Bills also had some big names sitting due to injuries, with some causing more concern among the coaching staff than others. Here are the major storylines from day 7 of training camp.

Taiwan Jones working in at kick returner

The Bills wasted no time in working their newest player into a battle that was thought to be an easy win for incumbent return man Brandon Tate. Sandwiched between Tate, who went first in the rotation, and Jones (3rd) was Rashad Ross. While we noted that Jones had done a lot of work as a special teams player, and even mentioned that he spent time as a return man while with the Oakland Raiders, it’s interesting to see his inclusion in the rotation right off the bat. What’s also interesting is his jersey number, which makes it seem like the team’s equipment manager may have wanted to avoid wasting those Cardale Jones jerseys he already had.

Cordy Glenn’s sore foot cause for concern

The Bills’ starting left tackle sat out for the Spring with a lingering ankle injury, and there appears to be some residual soreness from that injury that just won’t quit. Head coach Sean McDermott called it “concerning,” but the hope is that the Bills are merely being cautious and providing Glenn time to rest before the season begins. As has been the pattern during training camp, Seantrel Henderson took Glenn’s place with the first team. While he has been performing well, he won’t be eligible to play until the sixth game of the season, as he is completing a suspension for his second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy last season.

Other injury updates

With Micah Hyde sitting after injuring his hip on this play yesterday, Shamiel Gary was the man who received most of the first-team reps in his place. Trae Elston also worked in with the starting unit in Hyde’s place. While it isn’t an injury note, per se, Charles Clay’s absence is also one worth noting. It seems that Nick O’Leary worked with the starters, and he had a pretty good day, as he caught a couple of passes from Tyrod Taylor in 11-on-11 work. Speaking of Taylor...

Tyrod looks sharp

QB1 put together a good day today. He even forced Mike Rodak to tweet something almost complimentary regarding his red zone work for the day. Taylor was the only quarterback to successfully execute a two-point try in the team’s 3-play drill, hitting Nick O’Leary for the conversion. He also hooked up with Sammy Watkins on a deep ball during team work. After a few days of so-so play from Buffalo’s passing attack in practice, it’s nice to hear some positives.

Linebacker shuffling continues

While the three linebackers at the top—Preston Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, and Ramon Humber—have remained essentially the same, the rotation after that has continued to change a bit. Matt Milano, Tanner Vallejo, Reggie Ragland, and Gerald Hodges all worked in at different spots with different backup units today. The most interesting developments involved the middle linebacker spot with the second team. For a time, Hodges supplanted Ragland in the middle. At another point, Ragland came back in the middle and Hodges moved to the WLB spot. It’s obvious that the coaching staff is trying to find combinations that work, and they aren’t partial to any player in particular. Letting the competition shake out based on merit is good to see.

Odds and ends

Live tackling will take place at Friday night’s practice 8/4...Rod Streater has continued to be awesome; it feels like a matter of time before he starts making some noise to move up depth chart...Adolphus Washington was back with 2nd team defense...Eddie Yarbrough took 1st team reps; he has moved from 3rd team to 1st team playing time in matter of 4 days. Yarbrough has continued to make plays, batting down a Tyrod Taylor pass on his first snap with the ones...Nathan Peterman had a strong end to practice, finding Wes Saxton in the end zone during situational work.

Kyle Williams is my hero

If you’re a young player at Bills camp thinking about taking it easy on a rep, you’d better watch Kyle Williams and change your mind. The veteran has only one speed—ludicrous—and he’s not taking anything for granted. His value to the squad is so much more than his performance, which is already strong enough, but watching a veteran of 12 NFL training camps go this hard in a position drill makes me even more excited for the season to begin.