The Buffalo Bills held a practice in Orchard Park Friday night, and while it wasn’t quite a game setting, it entertained the fans in attendance. With live tackling and a proper NFL backdrop, this was the closest thing to real Bills football that fans have seen in seven months. Here are the notes to know from tonight’s practice.
Speaking before practice, Sean McDermott clarified that there was no need to read deeply into A.J. McCarron’s two-day stint with the first string. He explained that he made the move in order to evenly distribute red zone drills between McCarron and Nate Peterman.
Josh Allen steps up “under the bright lights”
With the Bills holding this practice at New Era Field (in front of a reported 20 thousand fans), McDermott wanted to see how his players would perform with the “bright lights and crowd.” One of the more impressive performances on the night was rookie Josh Allen. He found Khari Lee on a play action rollout pass for a touchdown in a goalline drill. He threaded the needle in 11-on-11 for a deep throw to Ray Ray McCloud, and took a scramble 60 yards to the end zone (though the whistles blew early on that play). He had a few missed throws, including in a drill where the team was backed up to its own end zone, and also took a sack for a safety. He later completed two targets to advance the chains before the end of that drill.
No quarterback played particularly badly on Friday, but when Allen starts throwing his arm talent is strongly evident in comparison with his teammates.
Praise for an undrafted rookie
Undrafted Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips has been an early summer standout, making a big catch in seemingly every practice. Before Friday’s practice, McDermott had positive remarks for the rookie.
“He’s off to a good start,” McDermott said. “The first thing that jumps out at me or us as coaches is the way he handles the scheme, not only offensively but on special teams. He’s got really good football acumen. … He comes from a good program at Virginia Tech.”
As a player vying for a spot at the back of the roster, some encouraging words about his special teams play are a positive sign for Phillips.
Injury updates and veteran rest
LeSean McCoy, Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander, and Charles Clay took the night off for rest. Trent Murphy (groin) and Zay Jones (knee) were both inactive from the start. Wide receiver Kaelin Clay had to be helped off the field after taking a hard hit to the ribs on a pass route. Rookie receiver Cam Phillips left the field with a groin injury and met with trainers near the end of the scrimmage. Offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse was carted off the field and taken to the hospital after practice, dealing with severe cramps.
A new signing
At the start of practice, the Bills announced they had signed Drew Agahiu out of Oishei Children’s Hospital to a one-day contract. The precocious cornerback showed off his skills, intercepting Nate Peterman and bringing the ball to the end zone for a pick-six.
With McCoy and Clay resting, the starting skill positions on Friday were Travaris Cadet, Logan Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin, Jeremy Kerley, and Brandon Reilly... Chris Ivory and Patrick DiMarco replaced Cadet and Kerley in a base offense look... Marcus Murphy and Keith Ford both had some strong touchdown runs against backups... The team spent plenty of time working on the running game with short yardage situations and goalline plays tonight.